An innovative digital laboratory will be created at Coventry University to further help students learn the in-demand skills needed within the healthcare and engineering sectors.
The Precision Digital Manufacturing and Healthcare Technology Lab has been awarded £5million from the Office for Students (OfS) and will be equipped with industry standard digital technologies such as 3D metal printing and high-end radiography equipment.
Students from Coventry University’s Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing and the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, will both benefit from the facility, learning how to use specialist equipment employed in both health and engineering sectors.
It is hoped the lab will also foster a collaborative approach and potentially lead to developments in areas such as prosthetics and wearable technologies, which require both areas of expertise.
Professor Stephen Hagen, Interim Academic Dean at Coventry University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said: “Digitisation of healthcare is the future and in order to develop this area we need to have access to this high-cost equipment, enabling us to train the specialists that our hospitals are calling out for.
“We already have equipment to train our students in diagnostic radiography, but this new laboratory will make it possible to teach therapeutic radiography, which is the use of radiation to treat cancer.
“Having this level of collaboration between faculties in a shared laboratory will make us unusual as a university, as due to the high-cost, many higher education institutions are not able to offer these facilities. Nationally there is a shortage of key staff in these specialist areas of healthcare.
“We’re delighted to have this opportunity, without large capital investments like these we would not be able to gain access to this type of specialist and costly equipment.”
Prof Hagen added that he expects Coventry University will develop new healthcare courses when the equipment is available.
Professor Catherine Hobbs, Academic Dean at Coventry University’s Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, said: “This project presents great opportunities for students as they will be able to access state-of-the-art digital engineering technology, but further forward collaboration between both faculties will offer great benefits especially in areas such as digital healthcare. The precision 3D printing technology available will mean we can create useable components for healthcare applications, while digital twinning will allow us to simulate how objects will work in a virtual environment.
“We are absolutely thrilled that we will be able to invest in these technologies, it’s an incredible opportunity for us, that doesn’t come around very often.”
Susan Lapworth, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: “Investing in modern buildings and innovative equipment will help universities and colleges in England prepare students for their future careers. Modern laboratories and state-of-the-art technology mean students learn with the best facilities. Our investment will also increase the provision of short courses that offer flexibility to boost the skills of the workforce.
“Competition for funding was strong, with high quality applications from across the sector. The OfS-funded capital projects will ensure current and future students have a positive experience while studying expensive-to-deliver subjects that are strategically important to society. Taxpayers will feel these benefits too, as our investment will boost local and regional economies and support environmental sustainability.”