Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer for Rolls-Royce Plc, visited the University of Nottingham for a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, and toured the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Manufacturing Technology and On-Wing Technology, hosted in the flagship Advanced Manufacturing Building on Jubilee Campus.
Established in 1999 as part of the Rolls-Royce UTC network under Professor Dragos Axinte, Director of the Rolls-Royce UTC, the centre boasts a multi-disciplinary research team exploring all aspects of aerospace manufacture, with particular interest in areas of on-platform inspection and repair systems.
Mr Stein met with Professor Axinte, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange Professor Dame Jessica Corner, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engineering Professor Sam Kingman, to mark the planned expansion of the Manufacturing and On-Wing Repair UTC to include Mechatronics Manufacturing in light of very successful research activities involving robotics.
Commenting on the continued collaboration between the University and Rolls-Royce, Dame Jessica said: “It’s a really important relationship. The UTCs are at the centre of everything that we do, and we’ve got big plans to develop in related areas through projects like our Beacon investments.”
The Rolls-Royce and University delegation unveiled the loan of an impressive Trent 1000 engine for the UTC researchers to develop their mechatronics capability. The engine is tailored for use with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and embodies many new features which contribute to its reputation as one of the cleanest and quietest engines available in its class.
Touring the UTC and talking with members — including academics, research fellows and PhD researchers — to discuss the technical challenges and view some of the latest developments in robotics, fixturing and advanced manufacturing, Mr Stein, said: “Finding cleverer and smarter ways to inspect the product without having to take them off the wing and dismantle the whole aircraft, has massive implications in terms of efficiency and bottom line impact.
“The focus of the company right now is on the services and on-going care and life when the products are in the hands of our consumers. We want to see how we can make it more efficient and slicker and ultimately give a better service to our customers.”
The delegation went on to visit the University of Nottingham Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Transmission Systems, which is the second University UTC to focus on working closely with senior engineers at Rolls-Royce. Mr Stein viewed the latest test rigs, due to be commissioned in the next few weeks.
To date, Rolls-Royce has established a global network of 31 University Technology Centres. Each centre addresses a key technology and collectively they tackle a wide range of engineering disciplines.
“We’re very proud of our university network,” he said. “It’s seen as a success story for Rolls-Royce and one that our competitors look upon enviously.”
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