New Engineering Centre moves to next stage of development

After planning permission was granted earlier this year for phase 3 of the Dudley Learning Quarter, Dudley College is now forging ahead with the pre-build stages of Dudley Advance, its new Centre for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Technology, which will be sited on Priory Road. Dudley Advance will provide a specialised training centre to support the local and national engineering, technology and manufacturing sector.

The centre will house specialist teaching spaces and be packed full of cutting-edge, industry specific equipment for mechatronics, electrical engineering and engineering science, as well as traditional machine tool based engineering and state-of-the-art CNC. These facilities will give prospective engineers the chance to study a range of traditional and innovative courses, from entry level through to post graduate level, in electrical engineering, engineering science, advanced manufacturing technology and production, hydraulic engineering, product design and CNC/CAD.

With copper being a feature on the outside of Evolve and Dudley Sixth, this new addition to the Learning Quarter will continue the theme of using metal as an architectural feature. The cube-like structure has been designed to look like machined steel, covered in zinc-type cladding. This was chosen as the college wanted the building to represent not only the industrial heritage of the area, but also to act as an iconic feature that will entice and attract the next generation of skilled engineers.

The development is on schedule to open in September 2014. Tenders issued to pre-selected contractors are expected back by mid July and once a contractor is appointed work will commence on the construction of the development at the end of August, after some nominal alterations to the car park on Priory Road have been completed.

Lowell Williams, Principal at Dudley College explained: “Dudley Advance is a very exciting and distinctive project. There has been a great deal of interest shown in the development by the Black Country LEP and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, (HEFCE) who are excited about the new learning opportunities we will be able to offer and the latest addition to the Learning Quarter, which will focus on the development of high value manufacturing and engineering skills for the region.”

The curriculum offered in the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology will be developed and delivered in close partnership with Aston University and key local employers including Thomas Dudley Ltd and the Hadley Group. There will be a heavy emphasis on the development of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects along with functional and enterprise skills.

Along with other employers in the area, these partners will support the centre by offering mentoring, work placements, apprenticeships, masterclasses and curriculum input to students. In return for this support local businesses will have the opportunity to access the centre and its facilities to assist their own research, prototype and development projects.

Students will study in a tailored learning environment and will follow an enhanced curriculum designed and supported by local employer partnerships. This unique blend of vocational training and ‘hand-on’ experience will help them progress their careers and develop the much-needed skills that manufacturing and technology employers need to help them maintain their core business and advance into new and emerging marketing at home and overseas.