Dura are rapidly gaining a fine reputation for delivering aspirational, flexible technical teaching spaces, and we have seen astonishing growth in this field. We were thrilled therefore to be offered the opportunity to fit-out the Technology Laboratory at a local college recently, and popped back to visit as the new term started to see how the students were settling in.
Opened in January 2018, the brand new multi-million-pound Advanced Skills Centre is built on the Abingdon campus and funded by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Oxfordshire Growth Deal. Its aim is to address the current skills gap in the local area, targeting key STEM sectors including electronics, engineering, telecoms and IT.
Its modern design and state-of-the-art engineering workshops, equipped with the latest technology, aims to provide an inspirational environment, whilst the spacious breakout areas and lounges give students a university campus experience.
Michael Chiyasa: Head of Estates and Capital Development at the College said: "When planning the building, our attentions were drawn to the Advanced Manufacturing Centre that Dura had created for Coventry University at Unipart. We knew immediately that we had found our solution! Our aim was to simulate as closely as possible an authentic industry environment, but tailored to our specific teaching needs. We also wanted a facility that would stand the test of time and that would complement the building. The Dura workplace furniture afforded fantastic choice and their consultation, design and installation service was outstanding."
Head of Faculty for Technology- Mark Byerley added: "Our facility boasts the latest in 5 Axis CNC, robotics, automation and 3D printer technology and our aim was to furnish the lab to an equally high benchmark-setting standard. Dura were sensitive to our budget and provided a solution which not only looks fantastic, but offers multiple layout options."
The open-plan Lab has specific teaching zones. The workspace installation includes six mobile tool drawers and cupboard units which not only provide secure storage space for components and project work, but can be configured in several different ways for group collaboration, presentation and individual project tasks. A fixed installation of 12 learning stations flanks one wall, where banks of 3D printers are situated. The main teaching area encompasses an interactive screen, additional storage and worktop space.
"We now have a state-of-the-art, truly flexible and future-proofed teaching space, unlike any other locally," continues Mark. "Thanks to the expertise and advice of Dura, who are clearly very knowledgeable in education technical furniture fit-out, we feel confident that our unique Advanced Skills Centre will inspire future generations to choose Abingdon and Witney College for their Engineering and Digital courses, and ultimately, provide employers with a highly-skilled workforce that is ready to contribute to the local, national and global economies."