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Celebrating 40 years of WMG – from autonomous vehicle testing to digital healthcare

WMG an academic department at the University of Warwick was on this day, the 1st of October, 1980 started by the late Professor Lord Bhattacharyya.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya sadly passed away on the 1st March 2019. His long and highly accomplished career in engineering and manufacturing began with his studies in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, before he moved to the UK to further his studies. After working at the University of Birmingham he was persuaded by the then Vice Chancellor at Warwick, Lord Butterworth, to move to the University of Warwick where he started WMG.Margot James and Prof Lord Bhattacharyya

Over the years he went on to become a Government adviser to Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Industry Ministers and Prime Ministers.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick, Professor Stuart Croft comments:

“I’m sure I speak for the whole Warwick community when I say how fantastic it is to see how Professor Lord Bhattacharyya’s vision for WMG has flourished to become not only an exceptional part of our University but also our whole region, by connecting engineering and manufacturing industries with academia. I look forward to seeing what is in store for WMG in the years ahead, as it continues to go from strength to strength.”

The new Executive Chair for WMG is Margot James, who was appointed in April 2020, comments on the achievements so far and plans for the future of WMG.

“We operate on a huge scale today but our mission and vision is the same it was on that first autumn morning. The challenges we are addressing now are different to those of 40 years ago; the need for a zero carbon industry is at the forefront of so much of our work. Our experience and expertise have never been more relevant and vital.

“Whether educating the next generation of engineers or developing the technologies that will change our world, the challenges we embrace today will shape the next chapter of the WMG story. We have the creativity, the insight, and most of all, the people to make the next 40 years of WMG even more exciting and impactful as we build a smarter, greener, cleaner and healthier world.”

In celebration of WMG turning 40, here are some of the department’s achievements:

1. 1980: WMG founded by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya kt, CBE, FREng, FRS at the invitation of the VC Jack Butterworth and started working with the automotive sector

2. 1981: Launched the first Integrated Graduate Development Scheme (IGDS) sponsored by the Science and Engineering Research Council – for organisations to upskill their graduate engineers covering 26 specialist areas and launched first full-time Master’s Degree – MSc in Manufacturing Systems Engineering

3. 1981: £3m CAD/ CAM centre opened – computer integrated manufacturing facility working with industry through research and education programmes

4. 1981: Collaboration with British Leyland Cars aimed at improving manufacturing operations at their Midlands plants under the nationwide ’company teaching’ scheme set up by Science and Engineering Research Council

5. 1985: Started working with the aerospace sector

6. 1988: Rolls Royce formed hi-tech research unit in the Advanced Technology Centre focusing on advanced ceramic technology for the aerospace industry

Margaret Thatcher7. 1990: Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened the Advanced Technology Centre – a research centre funded by industry

8. 1990: First overseas education programmes offered with Hong Kong Polytechnic University

9. 1992: Pioneers of the first Engineering Doctorate Programme (EngD) launched with EPSRC support

10. 1994: First programmes offered in Thailand with Chulalongkorn University

11. 1995: Started working with the pharmaceutical/IT sectors

12. 1995: International Manufacturing Centre opened and became the Group’s HQ

13. 1995: Launch of programmes with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and in Malaysia with the University Teknologi Malaysia

14. 1995: Started working with the construction sector, with one project improving quality of new homes with a £1m collaboration project with Westbury Homes

15. 1997: Partnership starts with BAE Systems on the Procurement Developing You (DY) SEiB Programme. Over the next ten years we had over 900 participants from more than 35 business sites have attended the programme

16. 1998: Launch of programmes with Chinese State Administration of Foreign Affairs Experts

17. 2002: First dedicated programme launched to support SMEs with digital and IT training

18. 2002: EPSRC Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre started

19. 2003: Started working with the Rail sector and launched the custom executive Stepping Stones programme with Network Rail

20. 2006: Started working with the financial services sector and the heritage sector

21. 2006: Partnership began with SIM and SIMTech in Singapore

22. 2007: Outcomes of the Premium Automotive Research Development project - over 400 companies assisted; 183 new products or processes developed; over 4,000 jobs safeguarded and over 2,000 learning opportunities

23. 2008: Institute of Digital Healthcare launched with the NHS and Warwick Medical School

24. 2009: Awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education

25. 2010: Development of Worlds First racing car powered by chocolate and vegetable oil which can hit speeds of 145 mph

26. 2010: Premium Vehicle Customer Interface Technologies (PVCIT) Centre launched which brings together in a unique package: high resolution laser scanners, x-ray technology in a precision CT scanner, and the UK’s highest resolution 3D “Power Wall” - part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

27. 2010: Custom programme for Lloyds Bank – which then became standard programme with other banks following

28. 2011: WMG centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult launches – with a focus on strengthening UK industry through innovation and technology

29. 2011: New unique Vehicle Energy Facility opens which is the UK’s only purpose built hybrid powertrain testing facility

30. 2013: Launch of the Applied Engineering Programme - first part-time undergraduate degree for apprentices

31. 2014: First WMG Academy for Young Engineers (University Technical College) opens in Coventry with the 2nd in Solihull opening in 2016

32. 2014: Government/ Industry Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) located Hub at WMG

33. 2015: Announcement of WMG as the Electrical Energy Storage Spoke for the APC

34. 2015: First of many successful projects with West Midlands Police in using 3D scanning technology to detect killers

35. 2016: Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Centre opens focusing on steels R&D

36. 2016: Development of new bespoke engineering degree with Dyson

37. 2016: WMG granted Regius Professorship in Manufacturing from the Queen

38. 2017: WMG partners in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre - scale up stage of the Faraday Battery Challenge of the UK’s Industrial Strategy

39. 2018: The National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC), located in the Prof. Lord Bhattacharyya Building, opens

40. 2019: Degree Apprenticeship Centre opens dedicated to students from industry studying whilst working

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