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Internal News - 26 September 2007

Unique combined engineering course begins today

A new course which aims to produce students with the combined mechanical and electrical engineering skills that employers badly need begins today at the University of Bath.

The Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering degree is being sponsored by firms including Rolls-Royce, BMT Defence Systems and BAe Systems as a way of meeting a chronic skills shortage in industry.

Traditionally, universities in the UK have taught electrical and mechanical engineering separately or with a small number of modules that combine the two. This can often produce students who may be proficient in one area of engineering but largely ignorant in another.

Employers often want all-rounders because when they design products they know it is more efficient to consider the mechanical and electrical aspects of design together from the beginning.

Now 17 students have begun the four-year MEng course, with an optional extra year on placement in industry.

It is a joint programme of the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Electronic & Electrical Engineering and the Director of Studies is Professor Raj Aggarwal. It will be managed by a joint committee reporting to the Faculty of Engineering & Design.

The programme aims to teach both mechanical and electrical engineering without sacrificing the intellectual rigour of a single-discipline programme. The course’s first two years combine the core engineering sciences of mechanics, materials, and electrical and electronic systems, and in years three and four further core subjects and chosen options are studied in depth.

The programme will develop technical and managerial team-working skills, and students will study applications beyond the boundaries of traditional mechanical and electrical engineering. Industrial sponsorships and bursaries are also available.

Industry’s commitment to tackle the skills shortage can be seen from the extensive support the programme has. Sponsors include: Rolls Royce, BAE systems, Qinetiq, Reed Hycalog, Molins, Siemens and BMT Defence Systems.

The degree was developed by a group of industrialists and academics chaired by Professor Alan Bramley, in the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Professor Gary Hawley, who was also involved in setting up the degree, said: “We are very pleased to welcome the students today – I am sure they will be the first of many, and will all be much in demand from UK employers.”