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£400,000 funding boost to teach skills of the future

The National Composites Centre, based at the Bristol and Bath Science Park

Press release issued: 24 January 2018

Two exciting projects to equip students and retrain current workers with the skills to tackle future technology and engineering challenges have been awarded £200,000 each.

New courses in the fields of cloud computing and composite materials will be developed at the University of Bristol after academics successfully secured funding from HEFCE's Catalyst Fund, in response to a call for proposals aimed at 'Closing the Skills Gap'.

The programme has awarded £6.1 million in total to universities and colleges across the UK to enhance graduate outcomes and employability, and upskill the workforce - providing the key skills that industry and employers will need, and contributing to UK productivity in the longer term.

A grant of £200,000 has been awarded to a joint project between the Universities of Bristol and Plymouth to increase the number of trained composites scientists and engineers.

The current pool of experts is relatively small yet the advanced composites industry in the UK has the potential to grow very significantly over the next 10 years due to new applications in aerospace, automotive, wind energy, construction and oil and gas.

In order to meet the demand and realise the opportunity, there's an urgent need to retrain existing manufacturing professionals, alongside increasing the number of composites trained graduates coming out of the Universities.

Over the course of the year the project will work collaboratively with the National Composites Centre (NCC) and a range of industrial partners to clarify requirements, identify gaps, and produce a portfolio of flexible topic-based material.

The material will be trialled at the National Composites Centre and then made available across a range of sectors and partners to be used for a variety of levels and audiences.

A further £200,000 has been awarded for the development of new online teaching material to educate people about cloud computing and big data analytics – the study of large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights.

The materials will be accessible to students across the University and also to external people who are keen to learn more. The grant is intended to help provide students from a diverse range of backgrounds and subjects of study to gain the digital skills necessary for contemporary computer-based work in a variety of fields.

The project is being led by Dave Cliff, a Professor of Computer Science, who is also the academic director for the University's new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, which is set to open in 2021/22 and will focus on developing the digital technologies of the future.

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol, said: "We're very excited about both these projects and the scope they have to teach new skills to a wide variety of people.

"Universities have a key role to play in ensuring that industry has a skilled workforce to enable the UK to not only compete on a global scale but to lead the way in these exciting areas.

"These types of project exemplify our vision for the University's role both in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and at the NCC on the Bristol and Bath Science Park. We will be embracing new ways of learning and teaching, redesigning education to fit the needs of a rapidly changing knowledge economy and a broader range of students."

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