A new £2m technology and engineering campus has opened at Plymouth’s marine enterprise zone – soon to be at the heart of the city’s freeport.
City College Plymouth has transformed 631sq m of new industrial space into the epicentre of the South West Institute of Technology teaching area.
The facility will deliver university-level courses that will provide high-quality and up-to-date training to people already working in the marine and engineering industries and those looking for a career in them.
The centre has taken on seven units in Phase 2 of the £14.3m Oceansgate development, in what was once naval base land and which will form part of the city’s freeport, or “freezone” as it is termed, project.
From September 13, 2021, about 95 students will be on-site each day, but with them mainly being on day-release it means about 500 will be using the facilities each week.
They will be studying the latest developments in autonomy, electrical engineering, civil engineering, manufacturing, and mechanical engineering.
The building contains classrooms fitted with the latest big screen IT, and three workshops including a technical resource centre, a composites lab and milling and turning labs. The top-of-the-range equipment contained inside includes 3D printers.
The college invested about £2m of Department for Education funding to fit-out and equip the centre. It is intended that the resource is used by companies across the region to train staff in the latest technologies.
Lance Chatfield, City College’s executive of technical innovation, said: “We want this to be used 50 weeks of the year and are looking to work with employers to make that happen. The plan is to work with organisations to upskill the workforce.”
He added: “We are listening to organisations and groups and bodies to see what they need.”
Rob Watson, director of Plymouth-based Marine Business Technology Centre (MBTC), said: ”It’s very much helping to define what employers will require in 2030.”
City College Plymouth is a key educational partner within South West Institute of Technology, a partnership consisting of University of Plymouth, Exeter University, Exeter College, Petroc, Truro and Penwith College and Bridgewater and Taunton College.
The new facility is based in Oceansgate’s second phase, which includes a new three-storey office building and 15 light industrial units. Oceansgate is being created on disused MoD land in South Yard, Devonport. It will become a £14.3million marine Enterprise Zone, and a part of the freeport, and help cement the city’s ambition as a maritime powerhouse.
The development’s first phase was completed in April 2018 and is now a base for eight businesses, including the new Marine Business Technology Centre, as well as international marine consultants MECAL and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The £7.6million Phase 2 development was funded by Plymouth City Council and a £2.25million grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
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The waterfront facilities will maximise their location, surrounded by key marine businesses and organisations including the MBTC. Students will also be able to access specialist equipment through the MBTC’s proving area, Smart Sound Plymouth, which is used for designing, testing and developing cutting-edge marine and autonomous products.
Alongside the development of the new building, new degree programmes have been developed as part of the South West Institute of Technology project. The college has worked closely with employers to identify the skills required and has used this to develop four bachelor of science degrees linked to naval architecture, marine engineering, integrated technologies and autonomous engineering. These programmes will further shape the future workforce, and allow students to continue their studies on a part-time basis beyond levels 4 and 5.
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