New IfM building will link manufacturing to societal needs

Posted on 19 Nov 2009 by The Manufacturer

HRH Prince Philip officially opened the Alan Reece Building today, the new home of the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University.

The Alan Reece Building is a state-of-the-art facility housing the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM),the manufacturing and management division of the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, run by Prof Mike Gregory.

The 4,400m2 building is named after Dr Alan Reece, a philanthropist and patron of the Institute — whose £5m donation provided the construction funding. Dr Reece, founder of Pearson Engineering Ltd, has a long and distinguished involvement in manufacturing, both as an academic and an industrialist. A further £5m donation came from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

Prince Phillip opens The Alan Reece Building at the Instutue for Manufacturing

Mike Sharman CBE, a retired engineer who worked for de Havilland after completing the Cambridge Tripos engineering course, set up the original manufacturing department at Cambridge and was present when Prince Philip opened it in 1952. He lectured at the University of Hertfordshire before returning to Cambridge, and taught Mike Gregory as a fourth year student. “When I came back to Cambridge I was asked to do just four lectures a week,” said Sharman. “It’s gradually gone up until you’ve now got this fantastic place.”

The building provides new teaching and research facilities, an industrial design and innovation studio, and state-of-the art equipment for industrial photonic and laser systems, inkjet, and RFID applications.

“This facility is designed to be a place of collaboration,” said Prof Mike Gregory. “People are realising that manufacturing is not just about efficient processes required in making things – in food and drink, pharmaceutical, engineering, automotive, aerospace etc, which are very important – but how this is integrated, and how manufacturing and services support one another. We have the opportunity to join these elements together. Skills and knowledge will be harnessed here that will let us sustain the planet.”

Prof Allison Richard, vice-chancellor of the University, co-presented the opening. She said: “This building is extending the breadth of what we do at Cambridge University. There is no more vivid a model that links academia with what manufacturing does to the needs of society than the Institute for Manufacturing.”

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh said: “I am very devoted to manufacturing in Britain and I am delighted to open this new building. I opened a building in the main engineering department in 1952, so you now see a very experience plaque-unveiler in action.”