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Work begins on STEMLab at Loughborough University

Professor Rachel Thomson with the Vice Chancellor (second from right), Electronic and Electrical Engineering student Ali Obaid (centre) and representatives from construction company Henry Brothers.

Work officially began today (16 November) on the new STEMLab building at Loughborough University, with Professor Rachel Thomson, the academic lead for the development, turning the first turf on site.

Professor Thomson was joined by staff and students from the University, including the Vice Chancellor Professor Bob Allison and Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Linton, as well as representatives from construction and civil engineering company Henry Brothers to mark the commencement of work.

STEMLab is a £17 million development that will enable the University to enhance its teaching and learning facilities for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – known as STEM subjects. Teaching laboratories for science and engineering, workshops, computer-aided design and rapid prototyping facilities, a design studio and informal learning spaces will all be housed in the building.

STEMLab will also be a focal point for the University’s activities that seek to engage school-age students with science and engineering, such as the annual Loughborough Engineering Experience for Year 12 students and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition. Such activities play a crucial role in helping students from different backgrounds find out more about university life and showcasing the range of careers open to STEM graduates.

“I was delighted to be able to get the construction work officially underway today,” said Professor Thomson, who is Dean of Loughborough’s School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering. “STEMLab is a really exciting development, which will allow us to expand our teaching provision in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and broaden the vital role we play in the pipeline supply of skilled graduates to industry.”

Loughborough has been awarded £5 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) towards the development, and a further £250,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, which will support the delivery of a suite of teaching programmes in bio-science and bio-engineering – fast growing disciplines that use traditional engineering and science techniques to address biological and medical issues. Graduates from these programmes will help to address major societal challenges relating to healthcare and healthy living.

Professor Thomson added: “We are very grateful to both HEFCE and the Garfield Weston Foundation for their support, and are hoping to find more individuals and organisations that want to support and be part of such an exciting development.”

STEMLab, which will be the cornerstone of a £25 million investment in a ‘student learning zone’ at the west end of Loughborough’s campus, is due to be operational in 2017.