Autumn 2018 will see a significant milestone for the University of Chichester, the region, engineering and digital technology when the University’s landmark £35 million Engineering and Digital Technology Park opens for business on its Bognor Regis campus.
For engineering, the space will combine purpose-built, state-of-the-art workshops, laboratories and equipment with an innovative approach to engineering learning which takes on board input from the commercial sector – designed to produce well-rounded, creative engineers the meet current and future requirements of industry and beyond.
For digital technology, this is an opportunity for the University to build on its already excellent international reputation in the world of film, animation, special effects, gaming and supporting skills such as screenplay and score writing.
Excitingly, the Engineering and Digital Technology Park will bring together skills and expertise across both areas to create some ‘STEAM’ – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – with productive opportunities for regional businesses to get involved.
The University of Chichester is intending to change the way students are taught STEM subjects to tackle the shortage of skilled workers across the UK, through using an employee-led curriculum and focusing on applied research to develop graduates able to move across engineering, technology and creative areas.
The project is overseen by Professor Seamus Higson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University, whose vision is to put STEAM into STEM by bringing together science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with the arts. It represents a substantial realignment for a University renowned for its provision in education, sports, and the humanities.
Professor Higson says: “Encouraging students and young people into STEM subjects is essential to the very future of the national market. We are changing the way we teach STEM subjects as, previously, it has tended to be undertaken in silos and some undergraduates go their full degree without closely interacting with cohorts in other years.
“The industry does not work like that, they have teams from different disciplines working together. Our Tech Park will be completely interactive: glass walls surrounding the workshops with viewing platforms to see teaching and research inside our laboratories to encourage students from all years to work together.”
Opening in September the construction aims to attract 500 undergraduates and postgraduates to the University every year by 2021. It is already interesting students near and far, including 19-year-old Louise Grainger, who joined the University’s integrated foundation course after it was launched last year to make STEM degrees more accessible.
Louise, from Bognor Regis, will progress to one of the Technology Park’s engineering undergraduate degrees when it opens next autumn. She says: “I’m so excited that I will take my first steps into engineering in such an incredible place.
“I’ve always dreamt of one day working for a motor sports or F1 team and now I feel that I can achieve that ambition. The Technology Park will give me the opportunities that I’ve never had before and I can’t wait to start learning in its laboratories and workshops.”
The development has so far received the backing from over 40 industry organisations, including Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Sony, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises which have declared a shortage of workers with STEM skills. It has been supported and part-funded with a £2.7million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and an £8million grant from south coast’s Local Enterprise Partnership.
To find out more about the Engineering and Digital Technology Park at the University of Chichester visit steam.chi.ac.uk.