Lin is a Professor of Laser Engineering and Director of the Laser Processing Research Centre. He’s produced over 450 publications in these specialist fields and he’s the inventor/co-inventor of 45 patents relating to laser processing technology.
When it comes to engineering and advanced manufacturing, you can’t do much better than to see it in action at BAE Systems. The Company’s Samlesbury site is home to some state of the art machines and some world class engineers. What they don’t know about machining a titanium component to tolerances less than the thickness of a human hair probably isn’t worth knowing either!
And when it comes to the future of engineering in the UK, you’d be hard pressed to beat the fresh faces of Tabitha Brayshaw, Darren Kearns, Thomas Smith and Matt Bibby. All mechanical engineering students at The University of Manchester, School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. They’re in their fourth and final year of study and they’re itching to begin their careers.
So, imagine if you could get all of these people into one room and harness their skills. Well, that’s exactly what BAE Systems did and a recent visit to Samlesbury was living proof that it’s a recipe for engineering success. When Lin suggested working with BAE Systems on an engineering design project last year, it was a win-win situation for both organisations – the students got to apply their learning for real and the company could benefit from the new ideas they brought with them. Over 100 3rd year undergraduate students were involved in the project.
A career in engineering today is different to one 10 years ago. All the more reason to ensure the relationship between academia and industry is kept fresh. It’s a no-brainer if you think about it. Industry relies on universities to research new technologies and universities rely on industry to provide an outlet for the talent they produce.
Lin explained “What students can do is look at a problem with a fresh pair of eyes. You get out-of-the-box solutions that might never have been considered before.” Lin continued “Sometimes you might not see instant results, it can take time to implement new engineering designs but the important point is that we are influencing thinking and helping shape the future of engineering by working together.”
He added “We are working with BAE Systems on a number of different projects and this is what really drives ideas into real outputs. If you look at some of the most ground breaking projects to come out of aviation, many of them wouldn’t have been possible without this kind of collaboration. This isn’t a one off project with one off benefits, it’s a long term commitment to keep us at the cutting edge of engineering.”
The Company is already thinking about future challenges for the students to grapple with. Dr Paul Needham, Engineering Manager at BAE Systems said: “Just 10 minutes in the F-35 machine shop is all it takes to change your perception of advanced manufacturing in Britain. Even with the students who are being taught about the latest theories, you could see they were surprised by the level of high-tech automation in the facility. You’re not met by the smell of oil and the crunch of metal swarf under your feet. Instead you’ve got a clean, tidy and efficient system in front of you. I’ve seen a lot of eyebrows raised as they come through the doors! Showing visitors around our facilities is one of the best bits about my job. We take it for granted so each visit is a reminder of how much progress we have made in manufacturing. It’s also a reminder that there’s an exciting future for advanced manufacturing for many years to come.”