£5 million AME funding to boost manufacturing skills

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The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) – a collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing Group to equip engineering graduates with the experience and skills employers need in the future – is to be extended after receiving over £5 million of funding. Work is now due to start on refurbishing one of the site’s buildings, with a view to it being officially opened by the end of 2019.

AME was established at Unipart Manufacturing on Beresford Avenue in Holbrooks, Coventry, four years ago to provide teaching and research space for Coventry University students. Around 120 students are currently studying at the site and, since AME was launched, 100% of those graduating have been employed in engineering jobs.

The Government’s Local Growth Fund – through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) – has awarded £1 million of funding, while Coventry University is providing a further £4 million to equip the building with digital manufacturing and materials analysis equipment. This exercise will include investment in robotics, digital technologies, laser processing and surface engineering equipment, all designed to enhance research and teaching capabilities that will drive increased productivity.

Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry says: We are committed to boosting economic growth across the Midlands Engine and the whole of the UK to build a Britain fit for the future. Our £1 million investment from the Local Growth Fund in the expansion of the AME will enhance its capacity to train highly-skilled workers and support the world-class manufacturing and engineering sector across the region long into the future.”

Professor Carl Perrin, CEO of the Institute for Future Transport & Cities (FTC), and director of AME, says: “The quality of students who have graduated has got better and better. Each year, as part of their degree, students are tasked with solving problems from Unipart’s manufacturing facilities and then presenting their recommendations to Unipart Manufacturing Group’s managing director. The expanded AME will consolidate our manufacturing and materials research under one roof and provide a digital manufacturing demonstrator for research, upskilling regional businesses and teaching our students in the latest digital manufacturing technologies.”

Jonathan Browning, chair of the CWLEP, says equipping students with the skills which employers need to drive future growth was essential for the area’s economy: “This is an exciting collaboration that has established an innovative teaching environment for higher education manufacturing/engineering degree courses. Renovating another building and equipping it with state-of-the-art technology will give students the best possible chance to learn new skills which employers tell us they need from graduates joining their workforces. The Local Growth Fund was established to create jobs, help businesses and boost the economy, and this is being achieved in every sense in this project.”

Carol Burke, managing director at Unipart Manufacturing Group, concludes: “It is essential that we work collaboratively to support the development of the UK supply chain so that we can deliver the capacity and skills required to lead the world in low-carbon technology. Expansion of the AME is a welcome boost in achieving this aim and will, in turn, continue contributing to industrial growth both in the West Midlands and further afield.”