Science star Maggie Philbin officially opened the new £13m iSTEM Centre at Preston’s College on Thursday 1 October 2015).
Maggie, who is known for her work on BBC1’s Bang Goes The Theory and Tomorrow’s World, and CEO of TeenTech, delivered a keynote speech to more than 100 special guests including some of Lancashire’s biggest employers, industry sector organisations, local authority leaders, students and staff.
Guests were treated to a tour of the Centre’s cutting-edge facilities and got to see the College’s new iSTEM (innovation & Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum in action.
Set over two floors, the impressive 4,200 sq m iSTEM Centre is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the UK. Built by Kier Construction, it includes an advanced manufacturing workshop, multi-functional science laboratories, health & rehab areas and app design labs.
Learners from a range of academic areas demonstrated live briefs to guests using the Centre’s state-of-the-art equipment. Aeronautical Engineering learners displayed repair skills on a six-seater twin engine aircraft and Sport students showcased the advanced technology of the AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill.
The mission of the multi-million pound iSTEM Centre is to ensure teaching is aligned with industry needs to help reduce the growing skills gap. Each course at Preston’s College has been redesigned with input from local employers and partners, including Baxi, Eric Wright Group and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The curriculum is now focussed on making students the most employable they can be by equipping them with the skills, experience and nationally-recognised qualifications that businesses want and need.
Following the official ribbon cutting, Maggie Philbin said: “I was honoured to have been asked to officially unveil the new iSTEM Centre and be part of the milestone event. Preston’s College knows what it wants from its students and is taking active steps to not only give Lancashire leaners an outstanding education but the skills and experience they need for life.
“I’ve met so many businesses that are crying out for work-ready entry-level talent, particularly those industries with an aging workforce, and revolutionising the education system is exactly how we go about combating this. I loved meeting like-minded employers and staff during today’s official opening who recognise that change is needed to secure Britain’s economic future.”
Lis Smith, principal and chief executive of Preston’s College, added: “There’s so much potential for Lancashire to become a STEM leader and a more holistic approach to skills development and training is required if we’re going to achieve this. That’s exactly why the iSTEM Centre is fundamental to the delivery of our new curriculum, to offer the very best learning and skills development that will contribute to up-skilling the region.
“The response from employers and guests attending today has been overwhelming and our vision moving forward is very much focussed on bridging the gap between education and employment. The skills shortage is impacting on businesses in Lancashire and beyond, and it’s our mission to ensure that we future-proof the pipeline of young talent by equipping them with the skills, experience and qualifications needed to secure a good job once they leave college or university.
“A huge thank you to Maggie for coming and opening the new iSTEM Centre and being part of a landmark moment in the College’s history and future.”
For more information on the new iSTEM Centre and curriculum at Preston’s College, visit: http://www.preston.ac.uk/istem/.
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