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11th December 2014, 4:47pm
Attracting more talent to the compressed air industry
School of Engineering Engineering students at the University of Lincoln, UK, have been working with a world-leading company in a joint project to help nurture the next generation of engineers and attract new talent into the compressed air industry.

Mattei, which provides air-compressor and gas-compressor products and services, set the School of Engineering’s second year undergraduates the challenge of separating compressed air, lubricating oil and condensed water from a vehicle mounted compressor.

The problem had not previously been solved using simple, low-cost technologies, so it was a particularly demanding project for the students.

The students were required to create a concept to solve the problem, and presented their final design to a panel of experts; which included ideas that were well outside the current view and methods used by the industry. Two groups produced prototype systems.  

Ron Bickerton, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lincoln, said: “This process of learning by problem solving is a real challenge for the students. It involves self-teaching of the concepts they develop, as well as time planning with project management techniques, and ultimately leads to higher quality individual final year projects.

“Collaboration with industry partners such as Mattei is critical to producing graduates that are not only academically excellent, but are also ‘industry ready’. It is good for industry and ‘UK PLC’; there are opportunities for students to go directly from us into a company they have had experience with; and it also enhances the reputation of the University and the quality of our degree.”

A further benefit of the industry panel devised by the University is that members like Mattei have the opportunity to engage with students in the second year summer term and again with a third year project specific to their company and industry sector. This allows them to undertake multiple ‘interviews’ during the ‘boardroom style’ panel presentations for students they would like to employ as interns or graduate engineers in the future.

Mattei’s Managing Director, Andy Jones, said: “We were impressed by the standard of work produced and fully support the University’s approach of immersing students in real world problems to get them ready to make a positive contribution in the field of modern engineering. We hope that our involvement with the University of Lincoln will inspire more talented engineers into the industry. The skills gap is probably the biggest challenge that the engineering industry currently faces, and indeed will continue to face for years to come.

“The compressed air industry is often considered to be the industrial sector’s fourth utility, and should really be attracting large numbers of young engineers. It’s a very diverse industry offering many different career paths, but there isn’t the same level of skilled engineers and service engineers coming into the industry anymore, which is a real concern. Mattei is committed to attracting young people into the compressed air sector, and we believe that collaboration between employers and education – such as the industry projects and partnerships the University of Lincoln runs – can make a significant difference.”

Engineering at the University of Lincoln is rated number one in the UK for graduate prospects with a 100 per cent graduate employment rate, such is the success of the ‘industry ready graduates’ ethos.

Siemens has co-located their product training facility in custom designed locations within the Hub. This has cemented links between Siemens and the University of Lincoln for both teaching and research in many fields of Engineering.

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