December 2022

University collaboration opens new engineering and manufacturing training hub. 

By Darren Campbell

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A brand new hub dedicated to developing the next generation of engineering and manufacturing workers has been opened as part of a collaboration between University College Birmingham and other institutions around the West Midlands.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub officially opened its doors for the first time on 8 December.

Located on Holt Street in Birmingham, the hub features a range of state-of-the-art facilities including Europe's largest cyber physical manufacturing rig – a scaled down factory of the future – providing learners with insight into how a real-life work environment looks in the modern-day industry.

The GBSIoT is one of 12 Institutes of Technology (IoTs) currently established across England as unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities and employers to offer technical education and training at higher skills levels in key STEM sectors.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for our engineering learners here at University College Birmingham"

Rosa Wells Executive Dean of the School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction

Rosa Wells, GBSIoT Board member and Executive Dean of the School of Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction at University College Birmingham, joined West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and other representatives to cut the ribbon at the new GBSIoT Hub on Thursday (pictured above).

Also in attendance were GBSIoT Board members Dr Rebecca Gater, Professor Julian Beer, Professor Jonathan Rowe and Pat Carvalho, GBSIoT employers Tony Sartorius, Sukhi Clark, Claire Kennady, Anita Davenport-Brookes, Neil Heslington and Rebecca Waterfield, as well as key GBSIoT stakeholders Aleks Subic, Henrietta Brealey, Henriette Breukelaar, Abbie Vlahakis and key colleagues from the Department for Education.

"By bringing together the leading local colleges and universities who are informed by a consortium of local engineering employers, and supported by our stakeholders such as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), the GBSIoT has established an innovative collaboration generating opportunities for our learners and residents," said Rosa.

Mayor Andy Street speaks with Abbie Vlahakis, CEO of Millennium Point Trust, Micky Burke, Operations Director, GBSIoT, and Vanessa Currie, Head of People, Learning and Development, Millennium Point Trust

"With the hub now complete and open for students, apprentices and employers, the GBSIoT will be the epicentre for collaboration and opportunity in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for our engineering learners here at University College Birmingham, who are excited to use the hub in 2023."

As part of the opening, Mayor Andy Street was given a tour of the hub and a demonstration of the cyber physical manufacturing rig by Festo Didactic colleagues, as well as discussing future plans and strategy with representatives of the GBSIoT's partner institutions and employers.

"We all know it is mission critical to improve the skills of the workforce in the West Midlands so they can move into the high-quality jobs of the future," he said. "It is the cornerstone of my 100k jobs plan, and the new GBSIoT will help achieve exactly that.

Watch: About Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology

"As a hub for technical education in engineering and advanced manufacturing, it will help make this key economic sector for the West Midlands accessible to all young people. Not only that, but it also has some world-class facilities, such as the largest cyber physical manufacturing rig in Europe, for students to benefit from.

"The GBSIoT is a fantastic addition to Birmingham and the West Midlands, and I am delighted it is now formally open."

Designed to create a 'powerhouse' for advanced manufacturing and engineering, the GBSIoT is led by Solihull College and University Centre with Aston University, Birmingham City University and South and City College Birmingham as members, supported by University College Birmingham, BMET College and the University of Birmingham as partners.

Investment in engineering

University College Birmingham has developed a range of new specialist courses for the fields of engineering and manufacturing, with a variety of further and higher education programmes including BTEC Levels 1, 2 and 3, T-levels and Higher National Certificate/Higher National Diploma courses.

The University has also invested in brand new multi-million-pound engineering facilities at its refurbished Camden House campus building in Birmingham city centre, featuring robotics labs, process manufacturing training equipment, a range of training rigs and simulators and enhanced IT facilities.

Find out more about our range of engineering courses in our A-Z listings.

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