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Formal agreement deepens collaboration between Strathclyde and Spirit AeroSystem

Formal agreement deepens collaboration between Strathclyde and Spirit AeroSystems

The University of Strathclyde and global components manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems have formalised their history of successful collaboration.

A letter of cooperation between the partners was signed at Spirit's Prestwick manufacturing site by Strathclyde Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald and Spirit Senior Vice President of Finance, Tommy Cowan.

The move aims to build on work between the company and the University, including with Strathclyde's Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering and Design Manufacturing & Engineering Management department on projects to develop innovative manufacturing technologies to help shape the future of aircraft design, manufacture and performance.

The work has been carried out both on the University campus and at Strathclyde's high-tech manufacturing centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

Spirit and Strathclyde are also set to collaborate through a new purpose built facility in the heart of the campus, a £2.5 million Robotically Enabled Sensing Hub, which is set to be completed later this year in the Royal College Building.

Sir Jim said: "I am delighted to be formalising this collaboration on skills, research and innovation with Spirit AeroSystems at a very exciting time for manufacturing in Scotland.

"Through our Advanced Forming Research Centre and on our main Glasgow campus, we have been working closely with the Spirit team at the Prestwick manufacturing base for a number of years.

"Strathclyde and Spirit have been working to help realise the enormous potential of the global aerospace industry and supporting Scotland's economy.

"This letter of cooperation will strengthen future collaborations and ensure we continue to generate innovative and commercially viable solutions and technologies to translate areas of fundamental research into high impact outcomes.

"It also enables us to support Spirit with their supply chain and strategic priorities by providing access to talent, sponsoring students, creating collaborative opportunities and working in partnership to address research challenges impacting the global aerospace sector."

Spirit AeroSystems is one of the largest manufacturers of aero-structures in the world with design and build capabilities for a wide range of aerospace customers.

It is set open a new 85,000-square-foot Aerospace Innovation Centre at Prestwick later this year to support growth in research and technology.

Tommy Cowan from Spirit said: "Working in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, gives Spirit access to additional skills and expertise that will help Spirit realise its global goals and ambition. 

“The aim is to develop a ‘gold standard’ model of industrial/academic engagement between Spirit and Strathclyde.”

."The collaboration will drive broader and faster innovation on future aerospace platforms ensuring financial growth for our business and the UK aviation sector, and will support the creation of high value jobs within the Aerospace industry in Scotland.

"We also value Strathclyde as a source of critical future talent for Spirit AeroSystems and our industry partners."

The collaboration comes as a Strathclyde engineer has been awarded a highly prestigious research chair appointment co-funded by Spirit, to develop pioneering work into detecting and evaluating flaws in materials used in aerospace, which could help make air travel safer.

Professor Gareth Pierce has been awarded the Spirit AeroSystems/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair for his work to revolutionise Non Destructive Testing (NDT) for composites.

The Chair is funded for five years and allows Professor Pierce to set up a world-leading research group.

His research aims to transform NDT in three key areas, including accelerating existing manual processes, whilst ensuring that manufacturing and product quality is maintained or even enhanced.

Professor Pierce is developing new sensors to allow earlier measurement in the manufacturing process, while machine learning and Artificial Intelligence will be used to interpret the scan.

He said: "The research chair with Spirit AeroSystems and the Royal Academy of Engineering will allow me the freedom to explore this space with the exciting application of building high quality, safe new structures for flight. 

 "I have been fascinated by engineering from an early age, with a keen interest to understand how human minds can influence and control the world around them to improve the quality of their lives and of others.

"Together we will work to revolutionise NDT approaches in aerospace manufacturing and help to ensure the safety and quality of the next generation of aerospace structure."


Notes to editor:

 The Spirit Prestwick site manufactures metallic and composite wing components, such as the leading- and trailing-edges for the Airbus A320 family, as well as wing structures for the Boeing 767 and Airbus A350.

Spirit is also a Tier One member of the AFRC and has a seat on the managing and technical boards. It also supports the Centre's core research programme and together with other members, helps steer the research agenda.

It is one of the first companies to run projects out of the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) which opened last year and is hosted and operated by Strathclyde. 

Both the LMC and AFRC are specialist technology centres within the NMIS group, which is comprised of industry-led manufacturing research and development facilities transforming skills, productivity and innovation in Scotland, helping to make the country a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

 Picture captions:

1. Professor Sir Jim McDonald & Spirit Senior Vice President of Finance, Tommy Cowan, sign the letter of cooperation at Spirit's Prestwick base.
2.  Professor Gareth Pierce 

For more information please contact Lynn McPherson at the University of Strathclyde E. T. 0141 548 4941