Specialist equipment which ensures that Staffordshire University students are at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and able to plug skills gaps in the region has been unveiled this week.
Part-funded by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the equipment is part of a ‘Digital Shed’ maker zone which will be openly accessible to students from a wide range of courses from September this year.
Inspired by Maker-spaces and 'Fab-Labs' the new Digital Shed, at the entrance to the Mellor building, will house a range of equipment including milling machines, 3d printers, laser cutters, a soldering station and specialist work benches and tools.
Professor David Hawkins, Dean of the School of Creative Arts and Engineering, said: “The space will create a culture of collaboration and knowledge exchange and access to such high-spec equipment will ensure our students leave with the skills our industries need.
"Even more exciting is the fact that the maker space has been the catalyst for a planned £1.3m Smart Zone - a bustling centre of invention, innovation and creation - which opens to students this Autumn.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP Vice Chairman Alun Rogers, who attended the launch, said: “We are delighted to support Staffordshire University in developing these exciting new facilities which will provide students with hands on experience in digital and electronic proto-typing.
“This is just one example of the University’s innovative approach which is putting Staffordshire at the forefront of digital and technological education and will help us create the highly skilled jobs that will ensure a thriving local economy.”
The launch took place in conjunction with GradEX 2019 - an annual showcase of the innovative work being produced by final-year students from the Schools of Computing, and Digital Technologies and Engineering and Creative Arts.
Last month the University celebrated the opening of a new Clinical Simulation Suite at its Stoke-on-Trent campus which received £176,000 of funding from Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP Local Growth Fund to pay for specialist equipment for use by trainee healthcare professionals.
Local Growth Fund
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country. By 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders. Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.
Some Midlands Engine key facts:
- The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion.
- So far the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Midlands.
- 8 Enterprise Zones have been established in the Midlands Engine since 2012, and 3 zones have been extended. By March 2016 these had attracted almost £1 billion of private investment, and created 85 new businesses and 7,291 jobs.