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Posted: December 5, 2008

Bristol University to train scientists and engineers for Britain's future

(Nanowerk News) Bristol University has won funding for four new centres that will generate the scientists and engineers needed for Britain's future, it was announced today [5 December 2008] by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – the UK funding body for science and engineering.
The four centres, which will receive funding totalling over £24 million, are:
  • Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science
  • Doctoral Training Centre in Functional Nanomaterials
  • Holistic Doctoral Training Centre for Chemical Synthesis
  • Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems
  • The Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science, based in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, will help provide the necessary skill base and expertise to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The rapidly growing use of composites in aerospace and renewable energy requires a technological transformation for the UK to maintain a lead. This centre will encompass all aspects of the materials science and engineering of composite materials.
    The Doctoral Training Centre in Functional Nanomaterials will train a new generation of scientists in the area of functional nanomaterials to connect fundamental nanoscience with real-life applications, coupled to economic and societal benefits, in the areas of healthcare, computing and pharmaceuticals.
    The Holistic Doctoral Training Centre for Chemical Synthesis, based in the School of Chemistry, will train world-class PhD students, with enhanced team-working and problem-solving skills, who will create better, greener and more efficient processes for making new drugs and medicines, new materials, polymers and nanomaterials. They will ensure that the UK maintains its competitive position as the place for highly innovative and creative research. The centre has also attracted massive additional funding from leading UK pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries.
    The Industrial Doctorate Centre in Systems will provide a research and training environment designed using 'systems thinking' principles to develop tomorrow’s leaders in the heart of UK industry and deliver industrially relevant research and commercially successful innovation.
    Professor Eric Thomas, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “This is wonderful news. It confirms the University is right at the forefront of developments in these key areas of science and engineering. It is here in Bristol that many of the next generation's leading innovators will shape the future."
    Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, announced the £250 million initiative, which will create 44 training centres across the UK and generate over 2,000 PhD and EngD graduates. They will tackle some of the biggest problems currently facing Britain, such as climate change, energy, our ageing population, and high-tech crime.
    Lord Drayson said: “Britain faces many challenges in the 21st century and needs scientists and engineers with the right skills to find answers to these challenges, build a strong economy and keep us globally competitive. EPSRC’s doctoral training centres will provide a new wave of engineers and scientists to do the job.”
    He continued: “These new centres will help to develop clean renewable energy, fight high tech crime, assist in reducing carbon emissions, and discover new healthcare solutions for an ageing population. This is an exciting, innovative approach to training young researchers and will help build a better future for Britain.”
    EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training are a bold new approach to training PhD students and EngD research engineers, creating communities of researchers working on current and future challenges. Seventeen of the new centres will be industrial training centres that will equip their students with the business skills they need to turn pioneering ideas into products and services, boosting their impact on the UK’s economy.
    Professor Dave Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC, said: “People are the heart of our future strategy. We want to drive a modern economy and meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in talented people and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
    He continued: “EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training expand our existing training portfolio, focus on priority themes for the UK, emerging and multidisciplinary research, and greater collaboration with business.”
    The initiative is widely supported by business and industry. The involvement of the South West Regional Development Agency was vital to the success of Bristol’s bids.
    The multidisciplinary centres bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today’s evolving issues. They also create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry.
    Students in these centres will receive a formal programme of taught coursework to develop and enhance their technical interdisciplinary knowledge, and broaden their set of skills. Alongside this they will undertake a challenging and original research project at doctoral level.
    Source: Bristol University