The University of Bolton and EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, are urging companies across the UK to provide the University's students with challenging 'real life' mechanical and electrical engineering projects.
The scheme will see companies and second and third year students working together for seven months on selected engineering projects, giving students experience of 'real world' problem-solving, plus the chance to see how businesses operate.
Projects will start in early October and will run until April. They will be worked on 'in house' by students using University facilities under the guidance of a team of experienced engineering specialists at no cost to participating companies.
Companies taking part would need to brief students initially on their project. There would then be a maximum of two further meetings with the students, which could be held via skype or video conferencing to help businesses based further afield.
At the end of the project, companies will receive a report and any other media, CAD files etc. that illustrate the outcomes. Potential projects and areas of work might include:
- Product development
- Component design and optimisation
- Thermal, stress and fluid flow analyses using Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
- Design, manufacture and test of prototype parts using composite materials
- Physical testing and analysis
- Conceptual design
- Design and parts manufacture using Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacture (CAM) and Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
- Automotive/Motorsport related projects
- Aerodynamics using wind-tunnels and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis
- Reverse engineering – laser and contact digitising of physical models.
However, the University will also look at proposals outside of that list and is keen for interested companies to get in touch to discuss their potential projects. Students taking part in the scheme can also be asked to sign non-disclosure agreements if required.
The University is deliberately setting the bar high as its students already have a strong track-record in problem-solving. Earlier this year, first year students came 2nd out of eight teams in the final of a North-West Region Undergraduate Design Challenge, after designing and making a device that could climb up inside a 2.2 metre high tube while lifting an increasing load and then return to ground level as quickly as possible. These same students are about to start their second year and are in need of a fresh challenge.
Paul Clavell, Senior Engineering Lecturer at the University of Bolton, says: "This is a great opportunity for companies to forge strong links with us and to help shape and inspire our engineering students. This scheme will teach students skills that industry values and wants more of, so it's well worth companies getting on board.
"The only thing we ask is that you make the project as challenging and real-to-life as possible so that students can get the most out of taking part."
Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, says: "Eight in ten manufacturers want to see universities produce students with real experience and work-place skills, while 79% want courses to be designed to meet industry needs. This scheme helps to tick these boxes and is a great opportunity for companies to give the hands-on, practical experience that makes for more rounded, 'work ready' graduates.
"It's a win-win for students and employers, so I would urge companies to seriously consider getting involved."
Companies interested in knowing more should email P.Clavell@bolton.ac.uk with details of their proposed project.