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College opens £1m engineering lab

LEP chair helps unveil new facility that aims to raise profile of STEM provision

Newbury College Engineering Solutions Lab

Dr Anne Murdoch and Peter Read, chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, at the opening of the Engineering Solutions Lab

THE chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Peter Read, has officially opened Newbury College’s new £1m Engineering Solutions Lab.

The new facility, fitted with leading technology, will enable the college’s engineering apprentices to research, design and develop components for their employers, while also benefitting students on full-time engineering programmes.

Part of the investment for the project came from a successful bid to Thames Valley Berkshire LEP for Local Growth Funds. The college received £333,333.

The new facility will help address the needs of the local economy by raising the quality and profile of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) provision in the area.

The Lab is comprised of two zones.

The first contains electronic and electrical equipment, including CNC milling and turning machines, 3D printers and scanners and a 3D laser etching machine to help design and develop innovative industry-approved engineering projects.

The second zone is a fully-functioning computer-aided design (CAD) area fitted out with design and drawing software packages such as AutoCAD and Inventor, and CNC software to connect to the machines in the other room.

Mr Read said: “Our Growth Deal set out to grow the STEM skills base in Berkshire, and this project is an excellent example of this being put into action.

“Whilst employers continue to place strong emphasis on STEM skills, the number of young people entering the workforce with these skills remains below demand.

“As a high proportion of businesses in the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) economy are knowledge-intensive and therefore require a continuing flow of STEM talent, it is vital that significant steps are taken to ensure the economic potential of TVB is not restricted by labour supply issues.

“The opening of the Engineering Solutions Lab today is a definite step in the right direction.”

Dr Anne Murdoch, principal and chief executive of Newbury College, said: “As well as providing career progression and business development opportunities to our apprentices and their employers, our new facility also gives full-time students on engineering courses the chance to develop their STEM skills and gain experience working with leading technology.

“Organisations already making use of the new facility include Blatchford, Progressive Technology, Williams F1 and Xtrac, and we encourage other local employers to also make use of the facility by getting in touch with us.”

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