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Creating an engineering centre of excellence

A multi-disciplinary academic centre of excellence, designed to advance the systems engineering profession and to leverage innovative thinking within the construction industry, is being created in a joint development between Laing O’Rourke and Imperial College London.

Laing O’Rourke has announced that it will fund the 'Laing O’Rourke Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation' at Imperial College London as part of a multi-million pound collaboration with the college.

It is hoped that the new centre will play a role in shaping the future of the construction industry by responding to the commercial and environmental challenges facing it.

The centre aims to deliver greater value in the disciplines of mechanical and electrical engineering, building services and manufacturing systems.

New two-year part-time Masters course in Systems Engineering will be launched in October 2011 by the Centre, to transform the thinking, practices and performance of construction industry professionals through the teaching and adoption of world class process systems engineering and innovation in science.

The programme will create intelligent and challenging leaders with the skills to drive the industry to the next level of achievement, pushing students to think creatively about society, technology, economics, environmental policy and their inter-relationships.

It has been reported that the centre will employ a spectrum of systems approaches - from data networks in mechanical and electrical engineering through to the latest innovations in low-carbon energy technologies. The course modules will have a strong focus on sustainability and whole-life performance with topics including energy policy, systems safety and data transmission.

The Centre will be led by Professor David Fisk, will also deliver undergraduate education, PhD and post-doctoral research and Executive Education. A key goal is to raise the profile of the construction industry, helping to generate excitement amongst young people, encourage them to consider careers in this field and then fast-tracking them through to senior management positions.

Commenting on the announcement, Ray O’Rourke said: "There is no doubt that we are facing a serious skills shortage in all aspects of engineering. To address this crisis I believe the levels of co-operation between industry and academia must radically increase. We must join forces to find productive ways to develop the next generation of engineering pioneers, providing them with the skills to be able to tackle the complex social, economic and environmental challenges facing the planet. I’m keen that we imbue this Centre of Excellence with a sense of wonder in engineering, and an understanding within students that it will be engineers that deliver the solutions we need.

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