Two manufacturing events at Cranfield brought key figures together to champion UK manufacturing in May.

Over 300 delegates from across industry, academia and Government attended the annual Manufacturing, Materials and Design Alumni Day and National Manufacturing Debate events hosted by Cranfield University.

On the 24 May we celebrated our fourth annual Manufacturing, Materials and Design Alumni Day. Delegates enjoyed the specialist event which included, tours, talks, learning, Q&As and networking opportunities. The full day’s programme focused on Cranfield’s expertise in these areas, with Cranfield Alumni sharing their wisdom and achievements within business.

The day began with a tour of manufacturing laboratories; the alumni started the tour in a room full of cutting edge technology. It was a great interactive workshop, showcasing 3D technology that has been specially configured to remain beneficial and relevant in the ever changing industry. Next it was into a department full of heavy machinery used to create equipment and models that are usually found in aircraft. Lastly, it was into a work space that was nothing but hot, as the staff and students tested metals and flame retardant materials with extreme heat, evaluating the strength of the materials. The alumni enjoyed the rich learning experience, and for some it brought back fond memories of their time at Cranfield.

After the manufacturing tour the former Cranfield students enjoyed networking with fellow alumni, guests, faculty and staff over lunch.

Cranfield’s Director of Manufacturing, Professor Rajkumar Roy, officially opened the event by welcoming all of the alumni in attendance. He outlined the strength of manufacturing activity at Cranfield; paying particular note to our recent successes and ambitions for the future. Raj then introduced the speakers for the first two lectures of the day.

Alumna Alison Smith, Senior Programme Manager at Network Rail who specialises with Research, Development and Technology discussed rail innovation, university partnerships, funding and where the future leads for Network Rail. Alison gave some fresh and new insight into the capabilities of Network Rail and what is to be introduced, such as trains running closer together and minimal disruption to train services agreed by industry leaders. This was demonstrated with a visual video; afterwards the floor was opened up to a Q & A which resulted with a very engaged audience.

Next to take the floor was Cranfield alumnus Ross Stuart, CEO Astir Ltd. His lecture “Investing in Technology, a manufacturer’s viewpoint” was a very inspiring talk. Ross made a valid point that ‘If you keep doing the same things you generally get the same results’ but ‘If you keep doing the same thing in an ever changing sector you will probably suffer worse results.’ Ross explained that the only constant is change, and that new concepts need to be part of a ‘clear strategy and not an isolated bright idea.’ His talk encouraged delegates to invest in the manufacturing sector and went on to explain the importance of 'leveraging your time spent at Cranfield.' 

Following Ross, Rachael Harris, Head of Alumni Relations presented to alumni the benefits and services available from the Cranfield Alumni Office. She encouraged the alumni present, to log in to our portal, to gain access to a suite of beneficial services such as career resources, library databases, free webinars, news, events and lifelong learning tools.

In the afternoon, the winner of the National Apprenticeship Competition was announced. Many congratulations to the worthy winners UCP Zeller Plastik. This year, the theme was Manufacturing on the Moon. Apprentices in engineering and manufacturing technologies from all years were invited to work in teams from their institution and build models to demonstrate their innovative ideas for manufacturing on the Moon. A team of national judges selected the winner. The second prize went to Rolls Royce, with third prize being awarded to the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Please keep an eye on the Cranfield website for details of next year’s Competition.

We were then delighted to welcome Steve Yianni, Chief Exec of Transport Systems Catapult, for our annual alumni lecture on “Disruptive technologies and its impact on manufacturing”. Steve delivered his talk to a diverse audience of students, alumni, faculty, staff and guests in our Auditorium in the Vincent Building. He gave an inspiring overview on creating an environment that will make the UK a World leader in Transport Innovation. Steve went on to say that increased capacity and efficiency of the transport system will be required to cope with the demands of predicted population growth.

Following this a gala dinner took place in the evening, which was greatly enjoyed by all those who stayed.

The Manufacturing, Materials and Alumni Day and National Apprenticeship Competition were part of a two-day event, encompassing the National Manufacturing Debate 2016 the following day, the theme of which was “How can UK Manufacturing Growth match the best of the G7?"

Making the opening keynote speech, Business Minister Anna Soubry MP highlighted the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: "Cranfield University has a world-class reputation for developing cutting-edge research in manufacturing and that is why I was delighted to give the key note speech at their debate today. This is a sector we should all be proud of and that's why I wanted to come here and champion our manufacturers.

"This government knows just how important manufacturers are to our economy and that's why we are investing an extra £1 billion in aerospace and automotive R&D and nearly £7 billion in the UK's research infrastructure. R&D and innovation will be vital to ensuring a successful and cutting-edge UK manufacturing sector as we move towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

Speakers at the event included: Hamid Mughal, Global Manufacturing Director at Rolls-Royce; Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF and Anna Leach, Head of Economic Analysis at the CBI.

Professor Rajkumar Roy, Director of Manufacturing at Cranfield University added: “Too often, UK manufacturing is written off and dismissed as an industry in decline. Now in its seventh year, the National Manufacturing Debate provides a forum for industry, academia and Government to come together to champion the sector, promote innovation and celebrate manufacturing’s successes.”

Click here to find out more about our Manufacturing courses. 

Previous Manufacturing, Materials and Design Alumni Days