University’s EIC set for completion as major employment and skills hub

Preview of new £35m facility

Lancashire employers and students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and the region have been given a preview of the new £35m Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) in readiness for its completion in early 2019.

Located within one of the most intense engineering and manufacturing areas in the UK, the EIC will provide an integrated space for teaching, research and direct links with industry.

Staff, students and companies within the region will have access to top of the range equipment including flight simulators, artificial intelligence capabilities and specialist electronic labs, allowing students to work on live, real-world projects with commercial partners.

An example venture is the university’s ongoing work with ‘Juno’, the world’s first graphene-skinned plane which was unveiled at last Summer’s Farnborough Air Show 2018.

UCLan engineering students have been involved in the hands-on project, helping build Juno on the Preston Campus and the EIC is set to become a central location for the continuation of this world-leading research.

The £35m facility has been constructed with the involvement of employers across the county and the wider North West, who have helped to inform its design and will continue to play a significant role in the operation of the new building once open.

Designed by internationally-renowned architects, SimpsonHaugh, the building is anticipated to make a step change in producing locally-trained graduates in areas including aerospace, mechanical and energy technologies and engineering.

UCLan’s Professor Ian Allison, executive Ddean, faculty of science and technology, said: “It’s great to see the EIC taking shape and seeing our plans come to fruition.

“Within Lancashire, Preston’s historical strength has been in manufacturing and engineering, our aim for the EIC is to help ensure we are at the forefront of the new ‘digital’ industrial revolution; supporting new generations of engineers and shaping the future of skills development in our city, as well as Lancashire and the North West as a whole.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the EIC completed and welcoming students and academics into the building in early 2019.”

UCLan is Lancashire’s largest provider of graduate level qualifications, supplying large numbers of highly-skilled graduates into the workforce while 1% of all the county’s residents are enrolled at UCLan at any given time.

The university is also ranked as the leading UK university for helping to incubate start-up businesses that are still active after three years of trading.

Prof Allison added: “What we’re also enthused about is the excitement and willingness of industry partners to get involved from a variety of sectors including automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, and energy.

“Our strong links with industry ensure our course portfolio and research is aligned with the current and future demands of business, enabling us to develop sought-after graduates who thrive in the workplace.

“This has been one of the defining features of the EIC since the initial discussions began and we look forward to working with our partners to create the engineers of the future.

“Ensuring talented people from all walks of life make the most of their potential and go into employment, often within the North West region, is a staple of why UCLan is a major economic and social anchor.”

Main contractor, BAM Construction, is on schedule to complete the EIC, a part of the university’s £200m Masterplan, in early 2019.

Identified as a signature project within Lancashire’s Strategic Economic Plan, the EIC has secured £10.5m via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnerships’ Growth Deal with the Government.

The new facility has also received £5.8m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5m from HEFCE’s STEM Capital Fund.