Training new generation of technologists

Northumberland College's STEM Centre staff and students.
Northumberland College's STEM Centre staff and students.

A college has welcomed the first batch of science students to a new £2.5million state-of-the-art facility.

Northumberland College’s STEM Centre is being used to train the next generation of engineers, scientists and technicians.

The new build, which opened at the college’s Ashington campus in September, is home to specialist science and technology workshops with dedicated facilities that include a class 10,000 clean room, digital 3D imagery equipment, nanotechnology, microscopes, specialist chemicals and fab labs where budding product designers and entrepreneurs can access the latest in digital fabrication equipment for prototyping.

With the addition of the new state-of-the-art equipment to the college’s existing Technology Park, it has been able to expand its course offer and welcome its first cohort of science learners.

New course provision includes forensic and biomedical sciences, advanced manufacturing, 3D design and cyber security.

Northumberland College’s STEM Centre manager Gordon Crombie said: “This is a very exciting time for the college and new revolutionary technologies will ensure our students have access to industry – standard equipment and will help to address skills shortages within science, technology, engineering and maths, so students gain real experience for the benefit of themselves, the region and local economy.”

The college is also offering a range of short courses, including introduction to pneumatics, rapid prototyping in the real world, introduction to programmable logic controllers and introduction to industrial robotics.

Marcus Clinton, college principal and CEO, said: “Our fantastic STEM Centre is training the next generation of engineers, scientists and technicians through courses that are designed with feedback from employers to benefit both students and the local economy.

“Our courses coincide with the North East’s growth opportunities within life science and health and digital, data and software, including software development and services, data applications, gaming and virtual reality.”

The college received £2.3million funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund to develop the centre, which supports the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan to deliver over one million jobs by 2024, with STEM qualification take-up among young people being a key priority.

The new centre also provides a base for engineering and digital creative media courses at the college.

This latest investment follows £10million that has been injected across all campuses to see a new hair and beauty salon, restaurant and kitchen, engineering and construction academies and new student hub at Ashington. There are also new workshops for agriculture and arboriculture, learning resource centre and classroom block at Kirkley Hall.