£10m boost for engineering and robotics at Sussex

Students in the University's School of Engineering and Informatics will learn about computing, robotics, electronics and mechatronics in a high-tech learning environment thanks to a £10 million investment

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A state-of-the-art centre to teach students the latest innovations in engineering and robotics is at the heart of a new £10 million investment at the University of Sussex.

Half of the money (£4.9 million) for the modernisation will come from the Government’s £200 million fund for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) teaching, confirmed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) today (Monday 8 December).

The new centre and changes to the School of Engineering and Informatics comes off the back of a 60% surge in applications for engineering and computing degrees at Sussex.

The development includes a complete internal refurbishment of one of the buildings on campus to create a new student-focused hub, as well as a suite of high-spec computers and new teaching and project workspaces.

The newly founded Computing, Robotics, Electronics and Mechatronics Centre (CREaM) will allow students to learn about advancements in robotics and autonomous systems, working with the latest technologies behind innovations such as auto-pilots, drones, space robotics and driverless cars.

Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

“This funding is badly needed by universities and colleges to meet the increased interest in science and engineering. It will also ensure that students benefit from state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories, and are thereby equipped for the workplace of the 21st century.

“I am particularly pleased to see successful projects across all parts of the country, and the degree to which institutions are focusing their investment to support their local economies and key industry partners.”

The £4.9 million Government investment into the University will be matched by Sussex, making a significant £10 million injection into one of the University’s fastest growing Schools.

Professor Diane Mynors, Head of the School of Engineering and Informatics, said: “This dynamic new space within Sussex will empower the next generation of scientists and engineers and will foster the type of learning environment that could lead to great developments for mankind.

“We already have vast staff expertise in robotics and autonomous systems, with around half of our academics actively researching in this field. Now we will have the 21st-century facilities to match.”

Engineering-related subjects are in high demand at Sussex. Applications to the School of Engineering and Informatics are up 60% over the past five years and the number of students within the School is forecast to double by 2021.

Graduates of Sussex’s engineering and informatics degrees also have strong job prospects, with 92%* in graduate-level employment or further study within six months of completing their degrees.

Professor Mynors adds: “Virtually every industry relies upon computing, robotics, electronics and mechatronics - from aviation and energy, to medicine and agriculture. This fantastic modern space, coupled with new placement opportunities and partnerships with businesses, means we will be able to attract the strongest students and produce even more high quality and highly employable graduates.”

The work will start in the new year and is expected to be completed by March 2016. 

Notes to editors:

University of Sussex Press Office contacts: James Hakner and Jacqui Bealing. 01273 678888 or email press@sussex.ac.uk.

* Figures taken from the 2013 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.

‘STEM teaching capital funding 2015-16’ (HEFCE 2014/14), www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2014/201414/

The Assessment Panel was comprised of the following members:

Chair: Professor Lesley Yellowlees, University of Edinburgh

Professor Mark Cleary, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford

Professor Caroline Gipps, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton

Dr David Grant, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cardiff

Professor Neva Haites, University of Aberdeen

Gary Jebb, Director of Estates, University of Edinburgh

Matthew Harrison, Buro Happold

Ann Brown, Nationwide

By: James Hakner
Last updated: Monday, 8 December 2014