Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, officially launched building work on the new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), during a visit to the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing today (18 November 2010).
Her Majesty donned a set of virtual reality glasses to remotely activate a digger from inside the AMRC’s MANTRA (Manufacturing Transporter). MANTRA is a customised lorry and trailer designed to give aspiring young engineers a hands-on experience with state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, including a 3D virtual reality system used for product design, simulation and training.
The Nuclear AMRC is a new collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the University of Manchester, with the backing of the Government and leading companies involved in building the new generation of civil nuclear power stations. Based on the same collaborative model as the AMRC, the Nuclear AMRC will help UK companies become global leaders in the production of components and systems for the new generation of nuclear power stations.
The Nuclear AMRC building will sit alongside the established AMRC Factory of the Future, on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in South Yorkshire. A former colliery site, the Advanced Manufacturing Park is now a national hub for high-technology manufacturing businesses.
During their visit, Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh toured the facilities of the AMRC Factory of the Future, and viewed research projects that AMRC researchers are leading for partner companies including Boeing, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. Her Majesty also met AMRC apprentices, who talked about how they are benefiting from the apprenticeship programme.
Professor Keith Ridgway OBE, founder and research director of the AMRC and programme director of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “We are very proud to welcome Her Majesty to the AMRC at this very exciting time. Over the past decade, the AMRC with Boeing has supported hundreds of manufacturing businesses and helped make sure that British engineering knowhow can compete with the world’s best. The Nuclear AMRC will take this technological excellence into new markets, and help British companies supply the new generation of power stations worldwide.”
Professor Mike Hounslow, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “The Sheffield City Region has a centuries-old reputation for manufacturing excellence. We are honoured to be able to demonstrate to Her Majesty that this reputation lives on at the cutting-edge of research and that by working together with industry we are able to add significant value in areas as diverse as aerospace and new generation nuclear reactors.”
The Nuclear AMRC will incorporate 8000 sq m of factory-scale research facilities, laboratories, and office and meeting space. The landmark building is designed by Bond Bryan Architects, and scheduled for completion in Autumn 2011. The manufacturing research facilities in South Yorkshire will be complemented by expanded research laboratories at the University of Manchester.
Other major new developments at the AMRC include a Knowledge Transfer Centre to provide businesses with training in new manufacturing technologies; and a Composite Centre extension to the Factory of the Future.
During their visit to Sheffield, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh also opened the new Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), and visited a showcase of projects led by the University of Sheffield’s SheffieldVolunteering at Sheffield Cathedral.