AECOM and Nottingham Trent University renew innovation partnership

This week saw the renewal of the successful strategic partnership between Nottingham Trent University and global infrastructure services firm AECOM.

NTU and global infrastructure services firm AECOM have renewed a partnership agreement that enables both organisations to continue undertaking joint research projects, and collaborate on key areas of activity. These areas of activity have been established as teaching and learning, student and staff placements, and graduate recruitment. The partnership agreement, initially signed two years ago, allows both organisations to continually pursue research and development opportunities to foster innovation in the industrial sector.

So far this partnership has facilitated a number of successful joint research projects and bids. This includes testing new materials' properties for use in 3D print applications, rapid structural testing, research on improving skills for offsite construction, and a project looking at how artificial intelligence can be used to optimise building materials for structures.

A successful output from the project, which tested a new material in a 3D print application, has resulted in a submission for the ICE East Midlands Merit Award 2019, for 'Measuring deformations of structures using low-cost cameras to understand how structures perform and behave.'

With research aligned to industry needs, this renewed partnership will focus on innovations that will help drive forward the UK's industrial agenda. The long-term goal is to jointly bring new products, processes and services to market.

During the past two years, AECOM and NTU have held several joint workshops to share knowledge and explore areas of mutual interest, including lean design, Industry 4.0, energy demand reduction and sustainable development.

AECOM is supporting NTU to develop the University's vision for a Smart Campus that aims to enhance students' learning and staff teaching experiences, and to harness its research by using smart technologies and techniques.

In addition, more than nine NTU students have completed placements at AECOM's offices, providing them with practical experience of current industry thinking. Another 10 NTU graduates have recently joined AECOM - adding to over 130 NTU alumni currently within AECOM - with the company also employing an additional 5 apprenticeships. AECOM will continue to actively promote opportunities for higher level apprenticeships and graduate recruitment opportunities to NTU's undergraduates and graduate students.

With the aim of matching AECOM's business and wider sector needs with academic skills, NTU is looking at introducing new curriculum on in-demand skills that includes project management, ecology and mechanical engineering. Developing teaching and learning that is attractive to industry and tailored towards accreditations with professional bodies will remain a priority under the renewed partnership.

Richard Whitehead, Managing Director - Building + Places, UK & Ireland, AECOM, said: "Over the past two years, we have seen the range of benefits that greater collaboration between industry and academia can bring. An important element of our partnership with NTU is sharing knowledge and expertise to foster innovation and improve our understanding of current and future challenges facing the industrial sector. Our renewed partnership with NTU will focus on research that will be of the most value to out clients, as well as training the next generation of engineers with the skills that industry need."

Professor Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at NTU, said: "NTU is extremely proud to have succeeded in delivering the skills, talent, innovation and research ambitions the preceding Partnership Agreement set out two years ago. Testament to the partnership's success is being able to extend the partnership for an additional three years, allowing for more knowledge exchange activities that will continue to directly inform the relevance of NTU courses and research - which included helping to optimise manufacturing and testing methods across the industrial sector - and provided real-life experiences and graduate roles for NTU students. In addition to teaching and research, the partnership has begun to explore ways to address fundamental challenges such as developing a diverse workforce, increasing staff wellbeing and productivity, and driving social values in construction."

The partnership agreement was re-signed by AECOM's Richard Whitehead and NTU's Professor Nigel Wright at a ceremony this week at NTU, which was further attended by representatives from both organisations.

You can read more about the work we're undertaking with our strategic partnerships on the Sectors and Partnerships section of our website.

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