The event on 5 April marked the formal start of our new working relationships with five prestigious UK universities. Each academic establishment boasts world-class expertise in technologies that we are looking to develop:
- Cranfield University (unmanned air vehicles, avionics testing)
- University of Birmingham (quantum sensing, virtual reality, immersive systems)
- University of Manchester (novel materials, advanced manufacturing)
- University of Southampton (sound and vibration, artificial intelligence, data fusion, maritime)
- University of Strathclyde (non-destructive testing; our newest partnership)
It's an arrangement that Andy Wright, UK Strategic Technology Director, has been helping to forge over the last two years:
"We're hoping that stronger collaborations with these specialist universities will help BAE Systems ensure its customers can maintain a military advantage over their potential adversaries in the future. The partnerships will also boost the UK’s defence industrial skills base by supporting the next generation of engineers and scientists.
"We're not looking to end the current relationships we have in place with the universities in the UK. However, by working with these five strategic universities in a structured and more focused way I think the partnerships will be mutually productive and beneficial ensuring technology pull through and research impact.”
Emilia Galkowska, a Naval Ships graduate currently on secondment with Land (UK) in Telford, leads on day-to-day engagement with the University of Birmingham:
"I've been embedded in the team at my former university," explained Emilia, "which is not the way we have engaged with universities in the past. This has involved giving them a steer on what research might be useful to our future capabilities.
"It's been an experiment for the Company but a successful one. The university has found it encouraging that BAE Systems has dedicated one of its employees to the partnership, and now other employees will become embedded in universities to help steer the collaborative efforts.”
Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the Ministry of Defence's new Chief Scientific Advisor, gave a keynote speech at the event:
Hugh said: "I have a good relationship with BAE Systems, having worked with its operating divisions to contribute towards products like Taranis. The strategic partnerships we see here are a good way of achieving similar results.
"For the Company, it's a way of acquiring innovation and tapping into a flexible workforce. For scientists and academia, who tend to tinker because they like to engineer rather than to have an impact, it emphasises the importance of the business case and the benefits of exchanging ideas."
UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin MP also attended and spoke to the PhD scientists talking about their displays.
One of those PhD students, Nikhil Mistry from the University of Southampton, said:
"My work concerns the acoustic modelling of bubble clouds in the ocean, in particular how sonar can be enhanced in the bubbly component of a ship's wake. For example, how to identify floating mines more easily and recognise incoming threats in shallow waters.
"It's fantastic to work with BAE Systems because you have an immediate connection to the real world. In academia we can get carried away with pushing the boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries. But BAE Systems guides you to solve problems that can be used almost immediately.