Bristol University to train scientists and engineers for Britain’s future
Press release issued: 5 December 2008
Bristol University has won funding for four new centres that will generate the scientists and engineers needed for Britain's future, it was announced today [5 December 2008] by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – the UK funding body for science and engineering.
The four centres, which will receive funding totalling over £24 million, are:
- Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science
- Doctoral Training Centre in Functional Nanomaterials
- Holistic Doctoral Training Centre for Chemical Synthesis
- Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems
The Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science, based in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, will help provide the necessary skill base and expertise to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The rapidly growing use of composites in aerospace and renewable energy requires a technological transformation for the UK to maintain a lead. This centre will encompass all aspects of the materials science and engineering of composite materials.
The Doctoral Training Centre in Functional Nanomaterials will train a new generation of scientists in the area of functional nanomaterials to connect fundamental nanoscience with real-life applications, coupled to economic and societal benefits, in the areas of healthcare, computing and pharmaceuticals.
The Holistic Doctoral Training Centre for Chemical Synthesis, based in the School of Chemistry, will train world-class PhD students, with enhanced team-working and problem-solving skills, who will create better, greener and more efficient processes for making new drugs and medicines, new materials, polymers and nanomaterials. They will ensure that the UK maintains its competitive position as the place for highly innovative and creative research. The centre has also attracted massive additional funding from leading UK pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries.
The Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems will provide a research and training environment designed using 'systems thinking' principles to develop tomorrow’s leaders in the heart of UK industry and deliver industrially relevant research and commercially successful innovation.
Professor Eric Thomas, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is wonderful news. It confirms the University is right at the forefront of developments in these key areas of science and engineering. It is here in Science City Bristol that many of the next generation's leading innovators will shape the future."
Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, announced the £250 million initiative, which will create 44 training centres across the UK and generate over 2,000 PhD and EngD graduates. They will tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Britain, such as climate change, energy, our ageing population, and high-tech crime.
The 44 centres will be located at 22 universities. Only one of the 22, University College London, has been awarded more centres than Bristol.
Lord Drayson said: “Britain faces many challenges in the 21st century and needs scientists and engineers with the right skills to find answers to these challenges, build a strong economy and keep us globally competitive. EPSRC’s doctoral training centres will provide a new wave of engineers and scientists to do the job.”
He continued: “These new centres will help to develop clean renewable energy, fight high tech crime, assist in reducing carbon emissions, and discover new healthcare solutions for an ageing population. This is an exciting, innovative approach to training young researchers and will help build a better future for Britain.”
EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training are a bold new approach to training PhD students and EngD research engineers, creating communities of researchers working on current and future challenges. Seventeen of the new centres will be industrial training centres that will equip their students with the business skills they need to turn pioneering ideas into products and services, boosting their impact on the UK’s economy.
Professor Dave Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: “People are the heart of our future strategy. We want to drive a modern economy and meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in talented people and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
He continued: “EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training expand our existing training portfolio, focus on priority themes for the UK, emerging and multidisciplinary research, and greater collaboration with business.”
The initiative is widely supported by business and industry. The involvement of the South West Regional Development Agency was vital to the success of Bristol’s bids.
The multidisciplinary centres bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today’s evolving issues. They also create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry.
Students in these centres will receive a formal programme of taught coursework to develop and enhance their technical interdisciplinary knowledge, and broaden their set of skills. Alongside this they will undertake a challenging and original research project at doctoral level.
Further informationQuotes from the University of Bristol Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) Directors:
The Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science
Dr Paul Weaver, Director of the Centre, said: “This award will give us the opportunity to address and create an internationally leading DTC encompassing the materials science and engineering of composite materials. The Centre will contribute significantly by providing a step-change in capacity, supporting more than 50 PhD students in this strategically important area and strengthens the UK's already excellent reputation in advanced composites.”
The Doctoral Training Centre in Functional Nanomaterials
Dr Terry McMaster, Director of the Centre, said: “The award of a DTC to the Bristol functional nanomaterials team is a landmark event for the University of Bristol, and the wider nanomaterials community in the UK. The training of a new generation of scientists in the area of functional nanomaterials is of great national urgency if robust interconnections are to be forged between fundamental nanoscience and real-life applications, and coupled to economic and societal benefits.
“Housed in the University’s new £12 million Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, each DTC student of the Bristol functional nanomaterials centre will receive state-of-the-art training, brimming with innovative elements, and will be part of, and contribute, to a world-class research environment supported by the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering.”
The centre is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and will be led by the Director (Dr Terry McMaster), Principal (Professor Stephen Mann), and co-Principal (Professor Mervyn Miles).
The Holistic Doctoral Training Centre for Chemical Synthesis
Professor Kevin Booker-Milburn, Centre Director, said: “Chemical synthesis is an area of huge significance as it contributes to so many materials and products found in all aspects of everyday life. Our centre, which has attracted massive additional funding from leading UK pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries, will train a new generation of world-class PhD students, with enhanced team-working and problem-solving skills, who will create better, greener and more efficient processes and ensure the UK maintains its competitive position as the place for highly innovative and creative research.”
The Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems
Professor Patrick Godfrey, Systems Centre Director, said: “This award puts us on track to deliver our vision of being recognised as a world-leading centre for systems by 2012. Industrial need for integration is at the root of our success; consequently there is a considerable unsatisfied demand for holistic systems engineers, and ‘systems thinking’ skills generally. Industry support and participation in our centre are essential, and we have this in abundance with over 40 companies actively involved. Bristol’s stakeholder-needs driven approach has been widely welcomed and is leading to a rapidly growing portfolio of industrial and fundamental research. The IDC is an opportunity to build on the success of the EPSRC-funded EngD Centre, started in 2006, and our excellent collaboration with the University of Bath.”
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing around £740 million a year in a broad range of subjects – from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.