Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, has officially opened the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) Hub.
Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, was among the senior stakeholders at the opening, on Thursday 8 December.
Joining them were GBSIoT Board members Dr Rebecca Gater, Professor Julian Beer, Professor Jonathan Rowe and Pat Carvalho, GBSIoT employers Tony Sartorius, Sukhi Clark, Claire Kennady, Anita Davenport-Brookes, Neil Heslington and Rebecca Waterfield, together with key GBSIoT stakeholders Henrietta Brealey, Henriette Breukelaar and Abbie Vlahakis and key colleagues from the Department for Education.
The Mayor then toured the new Greater Birmingham and Solihull Institute of Technology (GBSIoT) hub, having last seen it when it was just a construction site, which houses the largest cyber physical manufacturing rig – a scaled down factory of the future – in Europe. He was given a demonstration of the rig by colleagues from Festo Didactic, the world-leading provider of equipment and solutions for technical education.
Dr Chao Liu and Dr Muftooh Siddiqi, lecturers at Aston University, spoke about their plans to integrate the rig into the curriculum, along with a specific manufacturing course that Aston University has developed around the use of the cyber rig, due to accept students in September 2023.
Sharing the GBSIoT STEM schools plan, Abbie Vlahakis, CEO of Millennium Point Trust, spoke to Andy Street about the STEM strategy for schools and the necessity to inspire children from a young age in a fun, interactive way. She stressed the importance of making the landscape clearer for teachers looking for support in the STEM space. Millennium Point Trust are supporting GBSIoT alongside other local charities and community groups to create a simple STEM approach for schools in the region, and to showcase what is already available in an accessible way.
Michael Burke, operations director at GBSIoT, discussed plans to integrate the rig into outreach to younger learners in order to provide insight into how a real-life work environment looks in 2022.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
“We all know it is mission critical to improve the skills of the workforce in the West Midlands so they can move into the high-quality jobs of the future. It is the cornerstone of my 100k jobs plan, and the new GBSIoT will help achieve exactly that.
“As a hub for technical education in engineering and advanced manufacturing, it’ll help make this key economic sector for the West Midlands accessible to all young people. Not only that, but it has also some world-class facilities, such as the largest cyber physical manufacturing rig in Europe, for students to benefit from.
“The GBSIoT is a fantastic addition to Birmingham and the West Midlands, and I’m delighted it’s now formally open.”
Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said:
“The GBSIoT Hub will play a vital role in delivering higher technical education by widening opportunities, training our young people for the jobs of tomorrow and helping employers get the skilled workforce they need for the engineering and advanced manufacturing sector.
“As a partner university, we are delighted that our students will have access to the 4.0 cyber-physical facility and we look forward to launching the specific manufacturing course we have developed around the use of the rig next September.”