A NEW state-of-the-art engineering laboratory costing £1m was opened at Newbury College this week.
The college welcomed dignitaries, including local councillors and business leaders, to the opening of the facility which has been fitted with leading technology.
The lab will enable the college’s engineering apprentices to research, design and develop components for their employers.
It will also, according to the college, help address the needs of the local economy by raising the quality and profile of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) provision in the area.
In view of this, Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) provided £333,333 of funding for the new lab through its Local Growth Funds.
Opening the new facility on Monday, TVB LEP chairman Peter Read said the laboratory was a “step in the right direction” to increase the number of students entering the workplace with a STEM skill set.
He said: “While 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 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.”
The lab is made up 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.
Speaking at the opening of the facility, principal and chief executive of Newbury College, Anne Murdoch, 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.”