A new multi-million-pound technology centre will place the University of Nottingham at the centre of aerospace research. The £5m Aerospace Technology Centre was opened by John Rishton, chief executive of Rolls-Royce. The 20,000 sq ft centre on the University of Nottingham Innovation Park will eventually house more than 100 staff, including people seconded from industry.
Researchers will develop new aerospace technology and ways to transfer that knowledge more effectively from academia to industry. High on the list is how to recycle composite materials such as those used in the latest passenger aircraft. The centre will be at the heart of the university’s Institute for Aerospace Technology. The institute brings together a number of internationally leading research groups involved in work on aerospace materials
Many of the world’s leading aerospace businesses work with the university. They include Rolls-Royce, GE, Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems and GKN. The university is also working with many small to medium-sized businesses.
Mr Rishton said: “Rolls-Royce has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with the university, including two university technology centres researching aero-engine transmission and manufacturing technologies.
“This new facility will help Rolls-Royce, the aerospace industry and the University of Nottingham maintain their positions at the forefront of technology.”
Mr Rishton, who graduated with a degree in economics from Nottingham in 1979, continued: “This centre will make the relationship between the university and its industrial partners still stronger.
“That is good for us all.
“It gives the university access to long-term funding.
“And it means PhD students and academic engineers get exposure to real-world challenges.”
Mr Rishton pointed to the partnership between Rolls-Royce and universities, including Nottingham, to develop critical technology for hollow titanium fan blades for the latest jet engines.
“Those fan blades are helping to propel people at hundreds of miles an hour, 30,000 feet above the earth more safely, more quietly and more fuel efficiently than every before.
“So what you do here makes a difference.”
Professor David Greenaway, vice-chancellor of the university, said: “It is very fitting that John Rishton is opening our new Aerospace Technology Centre.
“Not only is he a distinguished alumnus of the university but Rolls-Royce is the university’s largest industrial research partner.
“We are very proud of our long and close association with one of the UK’s most prestigious global businesses.
“The centre provides the university and our key industrial partners with a unique facility. Within it, we will be able to develop, integrate and demonstrate new technologies at a scale and complexity not currently possible within any other research institute in the UK.”
The university is currently involved in about 70 industrial aerospace projects across a spectrum of research areas. Its aerospace research portfolio amounts to around £50m, which includes more than £20m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The financial backing for the Aerospace Technology Centre building includes £3.1 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £2m from the university. In total, £8.8m is being spent to support the establishment of the institute, which will help to secure the university’s position as one of the leading institutions in the world for research into aerospace technologies.
Other significant investors in the university’s Institute for Aerospace Technology include the EPSRC itself, which has invested £1.37m in specialist equipment for use in aerospace research.