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TWI welcomes funding award for a new higher-education engineering research centre

22 November 2012
Resonance testing at TWI

TWI Ltd welcomes the announcement by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to support its plans to form a National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRCTM). The latest round of the Government’s Regional Growth Funding awards will enable TWI and a consortium of leading academic and industrial partners to realise the establishment of the new postgraduate engineering facility at Granta Park, South Cambridgeshire.

Built in new premises adjacent to TWI’s headquarters, NSIRCTM will be established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, alongside the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester. Key industrial organisations including BP, Lloyd’s Register and Network Rail have also indicated their support. The academic partners will provide NSIRC with fundamental science, academic supervision and governance for the degree awards. Industry will provide the long-term technical challenges that the Centre will address through its research programmes.

Network Rail's Technical Director of Asset Management Services, Steve Yianni, said: "Network Rail supports the creation of the National Structural Integrity Research Centre and is currently in discussion with TWI about how it can be involved. By taking an active role in developing the engineers of the future, a foundation like this can not only give the railway the talent it needs, but also provide the rest of British industry with a stream of well-qualified engineers to drive the country forward."

In parallel with this award of funding from the Regional Growth Fund, Brunel University has also secured funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for specialist research equipment for the Centre.

The aim of the Centre will be to train, qualify and award higher degrees specifically related to structural integrity and, at the same time, to innovate by developing technologies and approaches to enhance the safety of new and existing engineering structures. The facility will provide UK industry with world-class engineers who can lead the development of new, safe, world-beating products in diverse industries, including oil and gas, energy generation, aerospace, road transport and medical devices.

The new Centre is expected to offer capacity for 200 postgraduate students and will create around 48 new jobs.

TWI estimates that in addition to the environmental and social benefits resulting from the avoidance of engineering failures, the direct economic benefit brought by those graduating from the Centre after the first ten years of its operation will be in excess of £350m. This can be multiplied to more than £3.5bn when considering the benefits of the work the qualified engineers will undertake for industry.

MP for South Cambridgeshire, Andrew Lansley CBE said: "Structural integrity is a technology field critical to many sectors of engineering and advanced manufacturing. I applaud TWI in securing this major funding to enable such a remarkable extension to its high-level research into structural integrity and support for specialist skills across the country."

TWI Chief Executive, Dr Christoph Wiesner added: “This is a key strategic initiative for UK engineering. It will ensure we have the qualified engineers that industry needs, together with the underlying science that will keep the UK as worldwide leader in this hugely important technical area.”

For further information, please contact Peter Oakley, Associate Director, TWI.