Twenty-first century solutions for the automotive industry will take their place in history alongside the invention of radar in the twentieth century and the launch of Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ in the nineteenth. Speaking on the first anniversary of the launch of the MIRA Technology Institute, Professor Joe McGeough, President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) said that STEM skills had been responsible for helping to solve problems ever since the industrial revolution began more than 200 years ago.

Unveiling a commemorative plaque, Professor McGeough spoke about the importance of industry and education working together and how historical collaborations had harnessed the power of steam in transportation for the first time and brought the detection of night bombing raids during the Second World War.

Professor McGeough said, “The UK has grown and developed as a result of highly-developed skills in science, technology, engineering and maths. I am convinced that the same disciplines will, when nurtured by organisations like the MIRA Technology Institute, overcome the challenges now facing the automotive industry with the development of autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicle technology, and the challenges brought by electrification, cybersecurity and emissions.”

The MTI is the result of a unique collaboration led by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, and its partners, HORIBA MIRA, Coventry University, the University of Leicester, and Loughborough University. Built with £9.5m investment from the UK Government’s Growth Fund via the LLEP, the MTI is a specialist facility designed specifically to train the next generation of engineers in the latest automotive technology. The MTI is helping to create specialist skills in some of the new disruptive technology areas including electrification and driverless cars.

Also speaking at the celebration event, Declan Allen, Managing Director of HORIBA MIRA said, “Ever since the inception of the Motor Industry Research Association in 1946 we have understood the importance of nurturing skills to solve some of the most pressing problems of the modern age. HORIBA MIRA has been working in close collaboration with North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College for several years and the development of the MTI seemed a natural next step on our journey to foster the skills of future engineers.”

Since it first opened its doors in 2018, the MTI has welcomed over 5,500 students and delegates. This includes over 360 studying for accredited qualifications from a Level 1 Institute of the Motor Industry certificate up to Masters’ degrees, and nearly 200 following apprenticeships at all levels. Furthermore, the MTI has a new degree level engineering apprenticeship launching in 2020 and has also had more than 3,000 automotive professionals taking part in professional development activities.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Chair of the MTI Operations Board, and Principal and Chief Executive North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College said, “We’re delighted to mark such a successful first year for the MTI and pleased that we are already delivering a sustainable supply of future specialist technicians and engineers.

”Our ambition is to be a global centre of excellence and we made some progress towards achieving that when, in June this year, we welcomed the chairman and group CEO of the HORIBA Group, Atsushi Horiba, to the MTI for HORIBA’s global strategy meeting.

“We are grateful to our partners in industry and higher education for enabling us to work together to address the issues of an ageing workforce in the context of a more rapid innovation cycle in the automotive sector than any we have seen before. I would like to thank the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership for its support in helping us to secure the local growth fund investment that has enabled us to deliver this fantastic facility.”

Guests at the celebration event were treated to demonstrations of the latest technology in action including a showcase on the software behind trusted autonomous vehicles from the University of Leicester, robotic role-play to combat cyber security from HORIBA MIRA, 3D printing from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, vehicle test laboratory cars from Loughborough University, and the Coventry University Formula Student race vehicle.

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Susan Bexson

Submitted on 14/11/2019