The Rt Hon. Lord David Blunkett officially opened Central Sussex College’s new Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) on Thursday 19 May at the College’s Crawley campus.
The celebratory event, attended by a range of local dignitaries, employers, organisations and students, marked the completion of a five month project that transformed an underutilized college building into a modern, industry standard learning environment, with practical workshops.
The College’s Principal, Sarah Wright, commented, “The Advanced Technology Centre is an exciting new addition to the College and is symbolic of the investment we are making to secure the future development of skills in Crawley and the surrounding area.
“As an integral part of the local community, with a long tradition in providing engineering training for employers far and wide, this fantastic new centre will allow us to continue to grow and enhance our provision of specialist technology and engineering courses.
“The opening has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the impressive new workshop and classroom facilities alongside the innovative projects of our HNC and HND Engineering students. We’d like to thank Lord Blunkett for officially opening the Centre and marking this new chapter for the College.”
The project, funded by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Project (LEP), will provide much needed training facilities and opportunities to support growth in areas like advanced manufacturing, engineering and environmental technology which have been identified as priority growth sectors within the Coast to Capital LEP area.
The Centre is expected to provide an additional 770 places for school leavers, apprentices and adult learners in areas associated with manufacturing, electronics, and specialist areas of environmental technology such as photovoltaic, solar thermal, biomass, wind turbine technology, thermography and insulation.
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital LEP, said: “With substantial growth predicted in the areas of advanced manufacturing and engineering and environmental technologies, it’s essential that we are growing the talent needed to meet the emerging skills needs of our region’s employers. So we are delighted that the new Advanced Technology Centre has opened its doors to support these key sectors and to focus on the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related skills in the area."
The opening coincided with the College’s annual HNC/HND Engineering exhibition where exhibiting students showcased their final year projects in the Advanced Technology Centre’s large workshop space. Lord Blunkett was given a tour of the exhibition and talked enthusiastically to students about their work ahead of the ribbon cutting ceremony where he was joined by students, staff and guests from the event.
Lord Blunkett concluded his visit with a guest lecture titled, ‘Education, the great liberator – personal commitment and mutual help’. Lord Blunkett started the lecture, attended by the College’s Higher Education students, employers and esteemed guests, by saying “Thank you very much for the invitation and congratulations to Central Sussex College for this fantastic new facility, the new Advanced Technology Centre. I think that it’s really going to be uplifting both for students who are using it and for the staff who are passing on their knowledge and expertise, but also for the community that will see an example of Britain of the future.”
He went on to speak of the students exhibiting their projects commenting, “The expertise being gained through the development of safety valves, to the really challenging way in which those who have had major surgery need to know that they have got something sensitive to their social and personal needs and is effective in terms of medical requirements as well, is just phenomenal. I’ve already grasped just what you’re doing here and how important it will be for people, and for the economy and for the region.”
Lord Blunkett closed his lecture with a question and answer session before thanking the College once again for the invitation.