[Press and Public Relations] New £1m Boost for Engineering at University of Leicester



October 2000

No 181

A £1 million investment is set to boost facilities in the internationally-renowned Engineering Building at the University of Leicester by creating a suite of new research laboratories.

The Department of Engineering has received £995,000 funding from HEFCE for new laboratories for Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering. It will include the Centre for Advanced Electronically Controlled Drives, set up at the University in April 1999.

A collaboration of 20 companies, its portfolio of activities has been valued at £1.7M over three years, and it currently attracts £100K each year in industrial contracts, though further development has been hampered by the limitations of its present workspace. The hope is that once in its new accommodation, it can at least double its size over the next five years, attracting additional research funding.

The Centre for Advanced Electronically Controlled Drives enables companies to have a share in fundamental research into new electronically controlled motors. It has an international reputation for leading edge research into low cost motors for domestic and automotive applications.

Two further new laboratories will benefit researchers in High Voltage Insulation and Electrical Machines, who already receive research funding of £1M. Once satisfactorily rehoused, it is expected to raise its income by £425K over a five-year period.

Professor Charles Pollock, Head of the Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering Research Group, said: "The creation of the new laboratories is an essential step in my plan to make the University one of the world's leading centres for research in Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering. We have pioneered some innovative technology and the new laboratories will allow us to create a better and more professional working environment for our staff and students."

Business benefits as the University Engineering Department’s ability to share its expertise with industry and commerce will be enhanced, allowing it to create more links with manufacturers of electrical machines and drives as well as high-voltage and power systems across the world.

In expressing his delight at the prospect of the new Centre, Head of Engineering, Professor Ian Postlethwaite, said: “This investment will provide us with world class facilities which will enhance our already excellent links with industry. The award reflects the international quality of the research we are already doing in Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering.”

IMPROVEMENTS FOR A NEW ERA

  • The University Engineering Building has already received the distinction of a Grade 2* listing from the Department of National Heritage in 1993. The inspiration of architects Stirling and Gowan, it was designed and built between 1959-63.
  • An early example of James Stirling’s work, it contributed to his international reputation. But it was not designed for the computer age, nor could its architects foresee the implications of future electronics and materials research, all of which need more stable research environment than it can offer. The planned changes will make significant improvements in environmental conditions and energy costs.
  • In the refurbished area which will house the new Centre a false ceiling will help control heat and noise, while air conditioning – in this case not merely a comfort factor – will ensure essential temperature stability leading to greater accuracy in electrostatic and electromagnetic properties and the applications of materials.
  • Effective management of space will allow 22 additional staff to work in the area, releasing other accommodation for undergraduate-related purposes.
  • As well as creating a pleasant working environment, the changes will add a more concrete value to the Department, resulting in an estimated £½M from increased research income and decreased heating bills.

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    Last updated: 12 October 2000 16:12
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