World-Class engineering skills centre opens its doors

A world-class skills powerhouse to create engineering leaders of the future has been officially opened at Furness College.

The Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre – the first of its kind in Cumbria – is a £4 million state-of-the-art training facility on the Channelside campus. It was opened by the chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, George Beveridge as part of the area’s ten-year strategic economic plan.

The centre will help meet the growing demand locally for highly skilled workers by enabling students to develop skills on real-life projects for companies ranging from major employers to SMEs. Students will have access to the latest high-tech equipment and machinery, a metrology lab for the study of materials, learning hub, CAD classrooms and industrial-size workshop.

Opening the new multi-million-pound facility, Mr Beveridge said it would help more local people gain the qualifications they needed to access new jobs being created in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, nuclear and biopharmaceuticals, as well as providing technology led businesses with a supply of skilled staff.

“It will focus on science, technology, engineering and maths related subjects and skills, with a key emphasis on ensuring that the county can fill the many thousands of projected new jobs coming on stream here with fully qualified candidates,” he stated.

“Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and partners such as Furness College will continue to help accelerate economic growth in the county by ensuring that its workforce has the skills to meet future employer needs. The new centre will certainly help us do that.”

Steve McAloone, head of engineering and advanced manufacturing at the college, said it would support Cumbria’s economic growth strategy and was a ‘win-win’ for engineering students and employers.

“We want to prepare tomorrow’s engineers and technicians for the workplace and enable current workers to retrain and enhance their skills,” he commented. “This facility provides the ideal environment and specialist equipment for students to work at the cutting-edge of engineering on research projects that will help local employers take design and manufacturing to the next level.”

He added that there was substantial growth in engineering in the area with significant investment at companies including BAE Systems to deliver the Successor programme, GSK’s new biopharmaceutical facility and at Sellafield.

The facility has classroom space for up to 450 higher education students and 1,150 apprentices on science, technology and engineering apprenticeships and HNC and degree programmes in engineering manufacturing and electrical and electronic engineering. New equipment ranges from a rapid prototyping machine, CAD/CAM software and 5-axis machine technology to a Faro scan arm, a suite of new 3D printers and virtual welding machine.

Furness College

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