Year of Engineering - EPSRC helping to build knowledge and skills base

Supplementary content information

Throughout 2018 EPSRC have been supporting the Year of Engineering and have partnered with IET and ITN productions to produce a special news programme entitled 'Year of Engineering - EPSRC helping to build knowledge and skills base'.

 

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Natasha Kaplinsky - Newsreader

Innovation and development across industry is vital for economic growth in the UK.  The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funds research and training to build the knowledge and skills base required to facilitate this.  The research helps not only to generate prosperity and improve lives but also to inspire future generations.  Katie Haswell went to find out how.

Katy Haswell – Reporter (KH)

EPSRC invests over £800 million a year into research in engineering and physical sciences like mathematics, material science and information technology, helping to increase the UK’s productivity and growth. 

Dr Kedar Pandya - Associate Director, Business and User Engagement, EPSRC (KP)

EPSRC is critical in helping to deliver the aspirations of the industrial strategy.  EPS researchers here in the UK lead the world in manipulating atoms, data energy, numbers, and you need that if you are going to transform existing sectors, or indeed if you are going to build wholly new industries and new sectors.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya – Chairman of WMG, Regius Professor of Manufacturing

British universities are the crème de la crème of the world and that’s because I think the way we do research in British universities is unique, that’s our strength and so what we need to do is make sure that we are able to exploit that in the future.  No matter what you do, if you are not competitive you lose out.

(KH)

In 1980 Lord Bhattacharyya founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to translate academic research into tangible businesses.  Today it is one of the world’s leading applied research centres.  This is the WMG’s main engineering hall here at the University of Warwick and it’s one of the places where EPSRC invests in a wide range of science and engineering projects.  Projects which are quite literally at the cutting edge of technology.  Like turning waste vegetable oil into a sustainable material. 

Lavinia Bianchi – EngD student with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Material and Manufacturing

Here we purify and chemically modified oil and then we produce bio-based polymers like this one, which can be used as an alternative to epoxy fiberglass for example.

(KH)

Through investing in expertise like this EPSRC is helping to build businesses and power industries.

Professor Barbara Shollock – Academic Director and Tata Steel Research Chair in Coatings, WMG

We have some very clear examples of where EPSRC-funded research has made a significant difference, for example, we had a £1 million project here at WMG with Airbus that resulted in a £10 million per year savings on wing assembly.

(KH)

EPSRC nurtures scientists and engineers throughout their careers.

Professor Kerry Kirwan – Sustainable Material and Manufacturing, WMG

EPSRC is seen as a kite mark of quality and the funding they provide allows us to attract the best students in the world, have great opportunities to travel, to build their careers, but it’s also very flexible, so if they want to go off into industry at the end of their qualification they can do, if they want to stay in academia they can do, there’s all different mechanisms that we can use flexibly to enable them to do that. 

Valentina Guerra – Research Student, Nano Composite Materials

EPSRC is helping me by funding my project and promoting the collaboration between the university and industry.  This is very important because in this way we can introduce innovation to the industry, by tapping into the skills of high calibre research staff and world leading facilities.

(KH)

Here at the University of Birmingham EPSRC-funded quantum physicists research the miniscule, fundamental science for emerging technologies. 

Professor Kai Bongs – Director of the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors & Metrology

We are building sensors which look into the brain’s magnetic signals to help diagnose conditions like dementia, child concentration deficits and others.  We are dreaming of getting gravity sensors into space to look for global groundwater distribution and help millions of starving families and children by better irrigation policies.

EPSRC has been absolutely instrumental in setting up this whole exercise, because EPSRC provides a broad funding based purely on excellence.  We get the world’s best nano engineers to build our laser systems, we get the best physicists to put these together into our world leading sensors, and we get the applied engineers and civil engineers who look into the ground or neuro scientists who look into the brain.

(KP)

The vision is to make the UK the best place to research, discover and innovate and really what we are trying to do is to build the knowledge and the skills that the UK needs in the future.