High-tech engineering comes to Yorkshire

Using funding provided by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership and equipment generously donated by various suppliers to the industry, East Riding College has opened a new Mechatronics Centre in Bridlington, Yorkshire.

The Centre will aid the delivery of specialised engineering courses that meet the demands of the modern engineering industry, where high-level skills are in demand. Mechatronics is the branch of engineering that focuses on designing and manufacturing products that have both mechanical and electronic components. It brings robotics into engineering, with a strong emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach and problem-solving skills.

The Centre supports the innovative engineering pathway established through the HEAD into Engineering partnership – a collaborative agreement between Headlands School in Bridlington, East Riding College, A B Graphic International (a Bridlington-based multinational), and Derwent Training Association. A ground-breaking initiative, HEAD into Engineering is a programme for pupils in years 10 and 11 at school to have a clear engineering pathway as a GCSE option, which can lead them on to full-time courses at college or an apprenticeship and provide their first steps into a career in the industry.

Phil Robson, operations manager for AB Graphic International, said, “AB Graphic International is delighted to be associated with the new Bridlington Mechatronics Centre. It’s important to us to support people into our industry and be able to recruit local talent at our head office and manufacturing plant in the East Riding. The Centre gives young people the opportunity to develop the practical and problem-solving skills that employers in manufacturing and engineering want, making them extremely employable, in our eyes. The future looks bright for Bridlington’s budding engineers and we hope our investment and involvement through the HEAD Partnership will encourage more young people into engineering and help to support our thriving industry.”

Engineering will be a growth sector in the wider region over the next decade. Growth is forecast as a result of the development of the Humber as the ‘energy estuary’ and the associated supply chain and infrastructure needs. The sector is changing and higher level skills are in demand to replace an ageing workforce and to accommodate the increasingly sophisticated and cross-disciplinary approaches needed in the manufacturing sector in a technological age.

John Doris, vice-principal for finance and resources, said: “The new Centre, along with the HEAD into Engineering programme really puts us in the best position to train highly-skilled engineers in our region. We collaborated with employers, suppliers and other education providers on this project to ensure that students will be able to train on industry-standard equipment and the industry has been very supportive advising on and in some cases, providing the latest state-of-the-art machinery for our students. It shows a real desire in the industry to invest in the next generation of engineers.”

Mark Thomas, key account & national systems sales at Bosch Rexroth, added: “As part of our on-going commitment to support the next generation we are proud to support the Bridlington Mechatronics Centre with our latest training aids. The equipment, which is built from genuine industry-leading components, will enable students and lecturers to recreate real-world applications, while demonstrating the principles of modern machine control systems. We hope others will follow in the footsteps of the Centre and set the future cogs in motion for a thriving manufacturing industry.”

The Centre was officially opened on October 17, with live demonstrations by students.