Professor boosts AME welding and joining capabilities

Posted on 19 Mar 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

An industry specialist who helped prevent Venice from flooding has joined the UK’s first Faculty on the Factory Floor at the AME.

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) has secured a major coup by appointing Steve Jones as its Professor for Welding and Joining Sciences.

Regarded by many as a global expert in his field, the former welding apprentice joins from Rolls-Royce plc and will be responsible for enhancing AME’s ability to bid for and deliver new technology projects in automotive, aerospace, energy, nuclear, oil and rail.

He has also been given the role of developing the materials and joining cell at the new 1700 sq metre manufacturing hub, whilst helping guide the next generation of engineers studying towards the BEng and MEng degree.

“I have been brought in to help AME and Coventry University become world class centres of applied research for joining and welding sciences,” explained Steve, who is currently Chairman of The Welding Institute’s (TWI), Membership, Education and Registration Committee.

“We have an outstanding new facility to work with, major investment in state-of-the-art equipment and an excellent team of lecturers, engineers and scientists eager to push the boundaries of this new technological capability.

“I also feel it is time to give something back and pass on years of experience to undergraduate and post-graduate engineers, who have the potential to change industry for the next three decades.

“I consider myself a ‘Pracademic’ so really buy into what AME is trying to do. By giving students the chance to work on real manufacturing and R&D projects we can accelerate their understanding and learning. Essential if we are to begin bridging the skills gap.”

steve jones
Jones, a former welding apprentice, joins the organisation from Rolls-Royce.

Jones’ career has spanned more than 30 years, starting life on the shopfloor as a craftsman apprentice welder in 1980 and taking in senior welding positions at Vickers Aerospace and Rolls-Royce plc, not to mention a string of academic roles.

During this time he played a pivotal role in assessing the welding techniques on the Venice Mose flood barriers and has been instrumental in developing safety critical components for use in the aerospace and nuclear sectors.

It is this experience that AME – a collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing – is hoping to capitalise on as it looks to build on early R&D wins in powertrain technology.

Carl Perrin, Director at the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, was delighted at the appointment. “Steve is one of the world’s leading figures on welding and joining sciences and a valuable addition to our team.

“He gives us the knowledge, experience and problem solving skills that position us as a credible R&D partner for new projects in nuclear civil build and energy generation. This opens up new areas of activity for us.

“There are lots of new joining techniques coming into industry and I’m already looking at power beam welding (electron and LASER) and novel brazing methods that we can start to introduce at AME.

“If we aim high and look to build partnerships with the likes of Nuclear AMRC and the nearby Manufacturing Technology Centre then there is no reason we can’t achieve our aim of becoming a centre for world class fabrication.”

In another announcement, Coventry University has also awarded Dr Carl Perrin a Professorship in Manufacturing Engineering.

The boss of AME is pioneering a new higher education model for manufacturing, offering degrees with a blend of innovative activity-led teaching, product development and research.

A dedicated 1,700 square metre state-of the-art manufacturing and R&D space is now officially open and home to the first cohort of 22 undergraduates and 5 postgraduate students.

The hub houses over £2m of state-of-the-art automation, joining technology and testing equipment and – alongside Unipart’s existing production lines – will play a key role in delivering £multi-million research projects to accelerate zero prototyping, explore lightweight exhausts and develop a new fuel rail system.