The government has launched a £6.5 million training initiative aimed at delivering a new generation of exceptional engineers specialising in renewable energy.
The funding, announced by business secretary Vince Cable, will enable leading universities and industry to provide training for up to 50 of the best engineering students as part of a new Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE).
The students will work with firms such as EDF Energy, Shell and Rolls-Royce, being trained in areas such as advanced manufacture of cost-efficient new windmill blades and testing wave energy devices.
The engineers will also be trained to understand the needs of business and develop their entrepreneurial skills alongside boosting their research and technical skills. The first graduates, who are expected to begin their training in January 2012, will gain an internationally-leading Engineering Doctorate.
Visiting the University of Edinburgh, who will help deliver the programme, business secretary Vince Cable said: “Engineering skills are vital for the growth of a more sustainable economy and are in high demand from employers. This scheme will see industry working with universities to provide students with the training and commercial experience businesses want.
“Scotland has real strengths in renewable energy – wind, wave and tidal power, building on a strong tradition of hydro. These students will have the chance to work with some of the leading energy companies based here and tackle one of our biggest challenges – developing technology for a greener future.”
The new Centre will be funded through the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Training will be delivered by Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Exeter universities, together with the Scottish Association for Marine Science and consultancy HR-Wallingford. Companies taking part include EDF Energy, BP, Caterpillar, E.ON, Rolls Royce and Shell.
Professor David Delpy, chief executive of EPSRC said: “The EngD is equivalent to the intellectual challenge of a PhD coupled with extensive business leadership training. The research engineers are expected to spend around 75% of their time working directly with their host company on project work and 25% on taught courses. Graduates trained in this way are much sought after by business.
“This centre combines skills training to doctoral level along with addressing a global challenge to develop new technologies in renewable energy.”
David Ingram PhD, professor of computational dynamics at the University of Edinburgh and Centre Director said: "If the UK is to meet its ambitious targets for renewable energy deployment in 2020 and 2050 we need to dramatically increase the number of highly trained engineers with expertise and understanding in resource assessment, project planning, device development, grid integration and environmental impact. The 50 engineering doctorate students IDCORE will train over the next nine years will help the UK to maintain its position as a world leader in offshore renewables."