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Contributing to and working with industry is paramount to research activities in the Unit, and our research has global reach and significance. We work with global manufacturers and international governments to drive wealth generation, job creation, increase product sales, create new product ranges, increase productivity, reduce production costs, generate efficiency savings, create new market opportunities, drive manufacturing improvements and create new manufacturing standards. Our work helps ensure construction accuracy, develop international capacity and professional upskilling, mitigate risks to human life and critical infrastructure, transform strategic planning and create new approaches to the management of key assets. Our research has had global policy impact.

Our work is leading the way in innovative changes across a range of industries and sectors. This is underpinned by an interdisciplinary approach and commitment to investing in partnerships that maximise our research impact.  

The Impact Case Studies below are being submitted as part of REF 2021. Please note, the majority of our work with global manufacturers and international governments is confidential, so is not publicised here.

  • Innovative reinforcement techniques protect historical masonry buildings and generate economic benefits for conservation construction companies – our research has led to impacts with an overall economic value of approximately €30 million (2015–2020), and the creation of 75 new jobs. Our research has been deployed in more than 8,650 reinforcement/intervention projects (2015–2020).
  • Transforming the global construction sector through Building Information Modelling – our research has led to economic and productivity impact, upskilling construction personnel, and has had global public policy impact.
  • Increasing efficiency and performance in the construction industry – our research has led to improved construction accuracy and productivity gains for a global construction company, has unlocked efficiency and business performance gains for multiple companies, and has transformed major software products. 
  • Mitigating the risk of geohazards to life and critical infrastructure – our research has transformed strategic planning and approaches to key asset management, has supported international communities to adapt to climate change, and has mitigating imminent risks to human lives from critical debris flows.
  • New materials increase economic performance for global manufacturer – our research has led to a new product range, increased productivity, wealth generation, and benefits to the supply chain for a global manufacturer.
  • Transforming the production of automotive tools and parts – our research has led to wealth generation, improved quality of tools and parts, reduced production time and costs, led to a new company standard across Europe, and has created new market opportunities for a global company.
  • Technological and commercial benefits of a new power system for domestic and small business use – our research has led to the development of multiple new products, the improvement of existing products, wealth generation, and has enabled local authorities to meet their green energy goals.
  • Improving the quality of offshore oil and gas pipelines through new manufacturing procedures – our research has led to economic impacts, manufacturing improvements, has transformed operational procedures, and has led to job creation.
  • Utilising engineering research to transform STEM aspirations and education-engagement strategies in North East England and Nigeria – our research has transformed STEM learning and participation in primary school children from less-affluent areas in the North East of England, has led to a revised curriculum and teaching practice in primary schools, has enhanced learning and participation for adult education and community engagement through regional organisations, and has expanded STEM learning and participation through educational opportunities in Nigeria.

To read all impact case studies in full, please click here.

Working with Industry  

The Unit has 44 externally funded collaborations with industry and new products have arisen from contributions to 41 patent awards. In the coming years, we aim to enable and diversify our impact by expanding these partnerships to solve engineering challenges for the benefit of society.

Career Training and Development 

Our efforts to embed inclusion and diversity in engineering through research-led initiatives are also making quantifiable differences to global skills shortages. For example, our long-standing research expertise in photovoltaics and energy conversion has been central to training over 560 postgraduate students at the Institute for Clean and Renewable Energy (ICARE) at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China. This institute is the first international multipartner training programme in renewable energy in China, addressing a gap in skills in a growing industry and providing access to specialised energy education and professional training for minority groups. The ICARE Initiative was praised by the Ministry of Education as ‘a flagship project of Sino-foreign cooperation’ and has catalysed new investments into photovoltaic infrastructure as a result of workforce upskilling and advancement of education–industry partnerships.

Public Engagement

Dr Carol Davenport is part of an exciting new project that is producing podcasts with associated live events and career resources. 'Inventive: A podcast of Engineering Stories' aims to inspire its audiences by mixing fact and fiction to create engaging stories with real engineers at the centre.

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