Exeter College is about to unveil its new multi-million pound centre of excellence with cutting-edge robotics and engineering technology. The state-of-the-art Centre for Advanced Industrial Automation covers 780 square metres and is an extension of Exeter College Technology Centre. Thus, it will have the very latest in hi-tech equipment, at a total cost, including building works, of around £3million.
As a result of this investment, Exeter College will be one of the best facilities in the UK for engineering disciplines. The college is classified as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted (2013/14 inspection) and is a specialist provider of high quality work-based apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing.
The South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) and Exeter College itself have provided equal funding for this ambitious project.
The project is part of the college’s long-term commitment to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. The extension is required to support an expansion in the college’s range of courses in engineering, aerospace and automotive technologies; providing industry-led teaching spaces, workshops and laboratories for both practical and academic learning.
Under the plans, there will be new workshops and laboratories for engineering, robotics, automated manufacturing, rapid prototyping and 3D printing. There will also be a cutting-edge virtual welding facility in which students can progress to real welding.
Axminster Tools & Machinery will be supplying the new centre with nine Jet Elite mills and ten Jet Elite lathes together with four CNC mills and four pillar drills, collectively worth more than £230K. One of the workshops will be dedicated to housing the Axminster and Jet machines.
The Robotics workshop will accommodate seven Kuka robots including the KR Agilus. Consequently, Exeter College will be the leading college in the UK for robotics programming. The engineering students themselves will be responsible for maintaining these robots.
In the coming academic year, Exeter College will deliver three levels of engineering apprenticeships: Intermediate (level 2), Advanced (level 3) and Higher (level 4). And several different pathways will be available: electrical, mechanical, maintenance, technical support, welding, and robotics and automation.
All of these machines and equipment, together with high quality teaching, will give Exeter College students a head start when it comes to future employment.
The facilities will be ready for new students in September, with a grand opening taking place in the autumn.