In the UK, 2018 is the Year of Engineering. Launched by HM Government and the UK Space Agency, the initiative has been introduced to address the national engineering skills gap and encourage more young people to join the profession.
Relying on collaboration with industry, the Year of Engineering has now won the support of the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Association (MTA) and many of its members, including several within the additive manufacturing industry.
More information is given in a formal letter sent by the MTA to Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, that commends the initiative for its part in the wider Industrial Strategy.
Intro to the MTA
The purpose of the MTA is “to promote the interests, and be the voice, of the manufacturing technologies sector in the UK.” As such, the association is also responsible for the biennial MACH exhibition of over 600 exhibitors from all across manufacturing, and runs an industry-backed education program for school-leavers in the UK.
An open letter to Theresa May
In its open letter to PM Theresa May, the MTA states, “Technological change is the moving spirit of our age,”
“Whether it is the development of AI pushing our understanding of consciousness, 3D printing altering how we can make things or digital technology transforming how businesses interact with consumers, we are seeing the future hurtle towards us.”
Though UK manufacturing has experienced a great deal of outsourcing in the past few decades, the letter stresses there are around 2.6 million people directly employed in the sector, and the industry accounts for 70% of the nation’s Research & Development efforts.
It continues, “We welcome the recognition of manufacturing’s importance in the Industrial Strategy,”
“…The UK has a worldwide reputation for engineering ingenuity and is at the forefront of technological breakthroughs that are shaping the world we live in. It is our responsibility to champion engineering’s present and future.”
3D printing’s go-ahead
As 2018 progresses, the UK Space Agency alone will be distributing £210,000 of funding to seven educational projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Each of the projects will be conducted in partnership with industry partners, tackling subjects like the environment, space exploration, and design technology.
The MTA’s support has, in total, been endorsed by 120 signatories including additive manufacturing players Siemens, Matsuura, DMG Mori and Renishaw. Renishaw also hosts a number of outreach projects and apprenticeships to enhance the profile of engineering in the UK.
James Selka, CEO of the MTA comments, “It is our responsibility to champion engineering’s present and future,”
“All of the companies, suppliers, institutions and funders who have signed our letter, recognise how vital it is that we attract new talent in to the engineering sector and by coming together we can amplify support for this excellent project.”
The UK’s current Industrial Strategy addresses what it deems to be four “Grand Challenges,” each of which includes the use of additive manufacturing.
First of all, it lists “Growing the Artificial Intelligence and data driven economy” – which can be seen in the 3D printing industry through the growth of Big Data management services for supply chain operation.
Second, “Clean growth” – a challenge some 3D printing initiatives are committed to through recycled materials usage and development.
Hopefully, the Year of Engineering initiative will help to keep the UK on track for the fourth industrial revolution.
Selka concludes,”The fast-changing word in which we live is shaped by engineering and we are pleased to throw our support behind this campaign.
“The UK advanced engineering sector is something to be very proud of.”
Featured image shows MTA Year of Engineering support graphic. Image via MTA_UK on Twitter