On 9 February 2017, in Hangar 1 at Cardington Airfield, Bedford College will unveil plans for its new £5 million Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre.
Employers from the engineering industry will be given an advanced viewing of the 21st century training facilities which will be built on the College’s well established riverside campus in the heart of Bedford.
The event is hosted by airship manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles and sponsored by Amey Construction and Chameleon Event Management. Holding it in one of the iconic airship sheds demonstrates the significance of the investment in engineering, not just for Bedford but for the entire South East region.
Bedford has a proud history in manufacturing, previously being a national and WW2 centre for engineering with companies such as WH Allen, Rolls-Royce and Texas Instruments operating in the town until the 1970s. This history of engineering is still reflected in the businesses which successfully operate across the county today.
Bedford College is linked to this history. Today it has a dedicated apprenticeship engineering centre in the town and offers extensive built environment and civil engineering facilities at its award-winning eco designed Brundtland Building at its Cauldwell Street campus (see photo with Ian Pryce CBE CEO and Principal of Bedford College).
Bedford College has won funding for the Centre via SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) which recognised how the further education college is leading the way and working with international names such as Cranfield University (photo shows students testing virtual reality technology at Cranfield University) as well as already providing a BSc in Engineering with the University of Northampton.
In partnership with international motor giant General Motors, Bedford College is also running Mechatronics Apprenticeships – the only one in the region which meets the new Government ‘standards’ for apprenticeships to match modern industry demands.
The Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre will house newer, lighter, analytical equipment, BIM Software and robotics. The Centre will allow students to move through to the higher engineering and degree level training essential in today’s manufacturing and civil engineering markets.
It will increase student numbers by an additional 300 full-time and part-time students and 150 higher level apprentices each year - thus meeting some of the huge demand from employers for skilled Engineers.
The space will provide students with room to experiment with intelligent design, analyse and assess problems, and develop real life solutions in the safety of the classroom and the virtual world environment.
Ian Pryce, CBE, CEO and Principal of Bedford College, who has seen the College go from good to great and the number one provider of modern education in the region said: “Successful FE colleges such as ours have stayed in the forefront of training because we work so closely with cutting edge employers. This Advanced Engineering & Construction Centre is what they want to help power the South East forward.”