The University of Bedfordshire’s campus transformation took a leap forward (Thursday 19 July), with the ‘topping out’ of a new £40m building devoted to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Vice Chancellor Bill Rammell together with representatives from the contractor RG Carter, the architects MCW, and engineering firm AECOM, travelled to the top of the new four-storey building to add the final bolt to the roof of the new building.
The ‘topping out’ ceremony marks the stage in construction where the building reaches its highest point. When completed the new STEM building will have utilised 70 miles of power cables, 350 miles of data cable, 5500 tonnes of concrete and enough sheets of plasterboard to cover three football pitches.
Due to open its door to students in September 2019 the STEM building is the latest in a series of investments in facilities, with the opening of a new library in Luton, and a new teaching and learning building in Bedford the most recent projects to be completed.
“Today is a momentous one for the University as we ‘top out’ a new landmark building for the Luton campus,” said Mr Rammell. “This £40m investment is the final piece in our five-year £180m estates strategy.
“The STEM building will serve as an icon for the town, symbolising our commitment to skills development for the region. Its floors will be dedicated to Engineering, Computer Science, Health subjects and Life Sciences. It will incorporate a public outreach facility, enabling us to promote careers in science and engage with business and the local community.”
A programme of course development will see the University expand its STEM course portfolio including new courses in Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Healthcare and Optometry. The University is aiming is to recruit 200 new students each year to these courses from 2019.
Mr Rammell added: “The new portfolio includes courses with embedded work experience and higher and degree apprenticeships, reflecting our commitment to graduate employability and the needs of industry.”
The new building will provide:
- Over 6,000 sq m of new teaching space, focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects;
- Cutting edge facilities including new large flexible computer laboratories and workshops including those for automotive engineering, cyber-security and robotics;
- New state of the art laboratories, to include specialist containment labs, simulation spaces, analytical labs and a clean room facility.
Director and General Manager of RG Carter Cambridge, John Ford, said: “RG Carter is delighted to have been given the opportunity to collaborate with the University on this innovative scheme.
“Our focus is on delivering a successful project and providing a quality teaching facility that will serve the local community for many years to come.”
Colin Moses, Director at MCW architects, says: “The STEM building represents the next step in our involvement with the University’s long-term, campus-wide re-development, reaching back to 2007.
“This flexible building will enable the University to increase its undergraduate community pursuing a wide range of science and technology focused activities in a collaborative and stimulating environment that is specifically designed to facilitate the latest patterns of teaching, learning and research.”