Lancaster University

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£1m Development Grant for Engineering

07/02/2002 16:02:20

Lancaster University's Engineering Department currently has a great deal to celebrate. Not only has it been ranked the 3rd best engineering department in the country by the Guardian league tables, but it has also secured £1m from the European Regional Development Fund to assist local engineering and manufacturing companies by setting up the Lancaster Product Development Unit. The project, which is expected to last for the next 2 years, will have a significant effect on local businesses in Lancashire and Cumbria.

It will enable local businesses to benefit from the latest developments in the powerful emerging technology of Virtual Prototyping and Product Development through the implementation of suitable Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. Virtual prototyping is the process of developing new and revised products and components by testing software models, often as an alternative to the construction of physical prototypes prior to committing to full production.

The project will build up links between local and regional businesses and the University through engaging in low-cost trials of CAD in order to establish the need before significant financial commitment. Training for key members of staff will also be facilitated through the University either in their dedicated CAD training suite or at the training centres of the software suppliers. The fundamental aim of the project is to establish a regional user network for the provision of mutual support and knowledge dissemination.

Allan E W Rennie, project manager, states, "The European Regional Development Funded Virtual Prototyping Project should enhance the collaboration and communication of SME's as suppliers with the larger organisations which they are supporting in their supply chains. By bringing them into line with the technology and practices of these larger organisations, product development times will be significantly reduced, allowing for the seamless flow of data and information. This in turn will reduce the development costs, and should improve the design quality prior to full production - making things "right first time!"

"By working closely with SME's, the University should gain significant industrial links and knowledge about real industry requirements, allowing for excellent collaboration both now and in the future."

The University is currently seeking interest from local manufacturing companies with less than 250 employees who may benefit from implementing the technology into their business. For further information, please contact Dr Allan E W Rennie at the LPDU on 01524 594298.