The University of Ulster is to open a new Centre for Renewable Energy Engineering in a £1million plus investment at its Magee campus.
The new Centre, currently being fitted out with over £1m worth of sophisticated engineering equipment, will accept its first intake of 50 students this autumn.
The engineering degree programmes run over four and five years, and will offer over 200 places once fully operational.
Magee is already home to the University’s Intelligent Systems Research Centre, whose expertise in electronic engineering has achieved international recognition since it opened on campus in 2007.
Director of the new Centre is Dr Justin Quinn, whose background is in mechanical engineering and composites technology.
He’s worked with international firms such as Bombardier and Airbus, as well as leading Northern Ireland firms including Powerscreen and Terex.
His experience gives him an understanding both of the international engineering context, and of the industry environment in Northern Ireland into which Magee engineering graduates will be seeking to build their careers.
Dr Quinn said: I see our new developments in engineering at Magee as servicing the industry in the north-west, providing well-qualified graduates who are familiar with the techniques and needs of the kind of engineering that is currently carried on in the region.
“In the beginning, there will be four courses: a BEng Hons and a MEng in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and a BEng Hons and an MEng in Renewable Energy Engineering. We’ve chosen these courses carefully: both will suit the area in many ways, because mechanical engineering in the /Derry/Tyrone/Fermanagh area is very strong, and in terms of renewable energy engineering we have a fantastic resource on this island for wind, wave, tidal and hydro power, as well as a very healthy biomass sector, with a number of indigenous biomass machinery manufacturers.
“In the first instance we will provide graduates who will be immediately valuable to local industry but we can’t stop there. Local industry must aim for export growth, so we will want our students to be able to function at a global level. We have to lay the foundations for that international skill level, to ensure that we have a solid base of engineering fundamentals to build on.” Dr Quinn plans to work with local schools producing the next generation of engineers studying STEM subjects.