In March, the Government unveiled plans for a new industrial doctorate centre to train "future leaders" in offshore renewables engineering technology. This January the first cohort of students will join the new EngD programme. Professor David Ingram, the centre director, tells Louise Bateman what the training will involve.
The UK is a world leader in offshore wind
. It is estimated it could contribute a quarter of UK’s electricity needs by 2020. But meeting this target requires better and cheaper technology. The Industrial Doctoral Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy
(IDCORE) has been set up with the aim of meeting this challenge. It will train students in Engineering Doctorates (EngD) so the offshore renewable
sector, and in particular wind, can reduce the costs and improve the maintenance, installation and reliability of technologies associated with the industry.
This January the first cohort of students will join the new EngD programme at the University of Edinburgh, which is lead partner in the delivery consortium, which also includes the Universities of Strathclyde and Exeter as well as the Scottish Association for Marine Science and HR-Wallingford.
"The research engineers will spend the first six months of their four-year programme in Edinburgh participating in a broad reaching taught programme, before joining their sponsoring companies to undertake an industry-based research project," explains Professor David Ingram, the centre director. The aim of the programme, he says, is to provide the students with a broad understanding of all the issues surrounding the consenting, installation, deployment, operation and decommissioning of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy projects.
"It is important to ensure that all our graduates have a common language so that an engineer can speak to marine biologists, regulators, economists and financiers in terms they understand and can also understand the answers they receive to questions they ask," says Professor Ingram.
Over the next five years the centre will recruit 50 students who will also obtain training
in management. Their initial, classroom-based learning, will be supplemented by summer schools in Oban, Falmouth and Oxford, which will focus on practical and field work. During their projects the students will have access to internationally leading experimental facilities and to guidance form some of the leading marine energy researchers while pursuing industrially relevant projects.
Funding for the £6.5 million programme has been provided by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and the UKRC Energy Programme. The research engineers will be sponsored by ETI member companies – EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce, Shell, Caterpillar and BP – and by other technology developers and supply chain companies.
"Their research work has to be directly relevant to their sponsors and, in contrast to a traditional PhD, may include several related projects," says Professor Ingram.
IDCORE joins a small number of centres funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which offer EngD programmes across areas ranging from computer graphics and visualisation to water treatment.
Professor Ingram says IDCORE's mission is critical to helping the UK meet it's targets for decarbonising the economy. "To meet our renewable energy generation targets it is critical to have a balanced portfolio of offshore renewable energy projects. Delivering these needs a good supply of enthusiastic, trained people. IDCORE complements initiatives to increase the numbers of apprentices in this sector by providing the next generation of chief technical officers for a sector in which the UK leads the rest of the world."
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