Flying visit by business and enterprise committee
Press release issued: 3 November 2009
Last week the Department of Aerospace Engineering hosted a visit from the Parliamentary Select Committee for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the aerospace and motor sports industries with particular focus on new innovation and research in the sector as well as the links between universities and industry.
As part of their inquiry, the Committee is assessing the role of these sectors in the wider economy, the effects of the recession on these two sectors and examining the effectiveness of government policies in supporting them.
The aim of the two-day trip, which involved visits to Airbus and GKN, as well as the University, was to explore the role that universities play in supporting these industries and helping to maintain their excellence in aeronautical engineering.
The Committee, chaired by Peter Luff MP, was welcomed by Professor David Clarke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and members of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and taken on a tour of the laboratories. A number of academic staff presented the MPs with an overview of the internationally renowned Advanced Centre for Composites Innovation and Science (ACCIS), as well as the activities of the department’s Aerodynamics group and the Dynamics and Systems research group.
The presentations focused on the impact of the department’s research on the sector and on the means of interacting with industry. The latter includes several large-scale strategic research partnerships and has some important differences from the mechanisms by which universities in competitor countries link up with their industries. The extensive collaborations both within the University and externally were highlighted, and the tendency for aerospace research to benefit other areas was demonstrated by examples including wind and marine turbines and even glaciology.
Mark Lowenberg, Head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, commenting on the visit, said: “My colleagues and I were most impressed by the dedication and engagement of the Committee members and their enthusiasm in getting to grips with the nature of aerospace research, its importance to the industry, national funding issues and many other concerns and suggestions expressed by colleagues in terms of enhancing the health of university aerospace research.”