University of Sheffield and AMRC secure major doctoral training investment

3 mins read

Next generation engineers will be trained in machining, assembly and digital engineering for manufacturing after funding was secured to create a new Centre for Doctoral Training, being run by lead experts in a joint collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the AMRC.

The new centre, announced by Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan as part of the UK’s biggest-ever investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills, totalling more than £1bn, will help students develop skills that are crucial for the future of UK manufacturing and boosting productivity. 

It will be led by the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering, working in collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and will train engineers closely with industrial partners, who will help identify the scope of each studentship to ensure they are highly skilled in areas of industrial need. It will seek to attract students with backgrounds from across the spectrum of engineering and science to help create a more diverse manufacturing workforce.

Advanced manufacturing across the UK continues to thrive and be celebrated, but poor productivity and skills gaps are thought to be factors in uneven and lower growth across the country. Digital technologies are recognised as a key productivity enabler and this new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will equip students with digital skill sets dedicated to the four productivity challenges in manufacturing; sustainability, speed, quality and flexibility. 

Professor David Curtis, professor of subtractive manufacturing at the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “We are extremely grateful for the backing from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in our vision, and the support we have received from our industrial partners in co-creating this offering. 

“The new centre will build off the strengths of our previous CDT in Machining Science where, alongside the Faculty of Engineering, we helped deliver our greatest asset, our alumni. With graduates taking on critical roles in the high value manufacturing sector, they continue to generate impact at scale and influence the future of UK manufacturing. We are really looking forward to repeating this with a fresh set of priorities.

“Expanding our focus across key disciplines of machining, assembly and digital engineering builds on over 20 years of innovation at the AMRC, where we play a leading role within the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a national network of research centres that work with government, industry and academia to commercialise cutting-edge research. 

“Bringing together research, innovation and industry in each studentship will allow us to respond in a connected manner to industrial challenges, ensuring a pathway to impact. We all need to respond to the net zero challenge, in sectors like aerospace we will see significant product disruption which will provide significant opportunities for manufacturing innovation. Research carried out within this centre, and the alumni we train, will play a key part in shaping the future.”

Professor Neil Sims, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield and lead of the CDT, added: “We are really excited to be able to lead this CDT in collaboration with the AMRC. The UK's high value manufacturing sector has a great opportunity to increase its productivity and sustainability through digital engineering, for example by combining computer models with measurement data from production systems. 

“New research ideas on topics like data science, artificial intelligence, and engineering modelling are ripe for application to this area of manufacturing, and so the collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and the AMRC provides us with an excellent foundation for our centre. Our students will have a unique experience, working at the forefront of the UK's high value manufacturing activities within the AMRC, and so we expect them to become future leaders for the manufacturing sector.”

The new CDT will launch in September 2025 and will train a total of 40 students over four cohorts, each leaving with a PhD or Doctor of Engineering (EngD) and extensive co-created graduate attributes. With the centre funded by the EPSRC, industrial partners and the University, co-creation of both skills and the research direction has been central to the vision of the CDT.  

The University of Sheffield is also partnering in a total of nine new CDTs, addressing key challenges in areas of national importance, including energy, infrastructure, materials, manufacturing assembly and machining, medicines and semiconductors.

For further information on the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Machining, Assembly, and Digital Engineering for Manufacturing (MADE4Manufacturing), visit: