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UEL launches cutting-edge London Centre for Digital Design and Manufacturing

students teamwork

Researchers and students will have access to the latest tools and technology

The University of East London (UEL) has launched its cutting-edge London Centre for Digital Design and Manufacturing, which will provide substantial opportunities for researchers, practitioners and students to make new contributions to areas such as manufacturing, construction and the creative industries.

Students and staff who use the centre will have access to the latest technology in fields such as architecture, engineering and design. The tools will enhance teaching and learning and will open up new opportunities for students and staff to use materials and methods which reflect the latest developments in the workplace. 

Guests gathered at UEL’s Knowledge Dock on 12 and 13 June for talks, demonstrations, and networking to mark the launch of the centre, which boasts a state-of-the-art ABB IRB robot for 3D production; 3D laser printers; large scale printing facilities; laser replicators for rapid prototyping; plasma cutting machines; and laser cutting machines. 

Industry partners including international robotics firm ABB, Automata, Nagami, LaserLines, and Ai Build helped bring about the formation of the centre, and gave presentations at the launch. They will continue to have an important partnership role going forward.

The centre will be housed in UEL’s Knowledge Dock business incubation centre, placing it at the very heart of UEL’s innovation culture.

Professor Hassan Abdalla (second on right), Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice Chancellor Dean of the College of Arts, Technology, and Innovation, welcomed guests and gave an opening speech.

He said, “I’m proud to launch the centre - this was a dream of mine 18 months ago, and I’m grateful to those who have made it possible.

“The centre will transform the lives and opportunities of staff and students, instilling in them the skills, experience, and competencies needed to use the best and latest technology, so they are prepared to enter industries and make their own new, creative contributions. It means our graduates will be competitive and able to realise their own ideas.”

The centre will be led by Dr Fulvio Wirz (far right), a senior lecturer in architecture at UEL and an associate with Zaha Hadid Architects, and Stratis Georgiou (left), who will be the centre’s technical lead.

Dr Wirz explained his vision for the centre: “This is the industrial revolution 4.0, providing students and researchers with cutting-edge facilities and creating a stronger synergy between education and design, and collaboration across disciplines like engineering, computing, architecture, design, and art.”

David Green (third from right) of ABB robotics said, “Robotics is the next great leap in manufacturing ­– robots are more cost-effective, technological barriers are being overcome to allow for industries to adopt robotics into their processes, and there’s a range of smaller robotic systems that are within the price range of smaller businesses. By 2025, an estimated 25 per cent of manufacturing processes will be done by robots, with a commensurate 30 per cent increase in productivity.

“Creating a space between academia and industry, which this centre does, is invaluable for innovation and preparing the next generation of industry leaders.”