A new £8 million Campus for Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) Innovation has opened its doors to students in West Suffolk.
The West Suffolk College development has reached completion in Phase 1, comprising a 4,300 sqm teaching facility with two seminar rooms, 10 classrooms, six laboratories, learning hubs, social spaces and a business centre.
This marks the first of a multi-phased campus redevelopment programme which will bring state-of-the-art, specialist STEM facilities to the region.
Contractor Coulson Building Group worked with landscape architect Wynne-Williams Associates and consultancy Pick Everard to bring the project to life.
Speaking about the project, Pick Everard director Keith Prendergast said: “This first phase has significantly modernised the college’s offering. Our designs have enabled further and higher education teaching services to take place under one roof, alongside a space for local businesses. This creates greater links with industry, addressing the skills gap in STEM and creating an opportunity for real collaboration.
“The campus is on the site of a former specialist engineering facility, where high-end equipment for TV and media was developed. It’s great that we’re helping to continue this story, creating a space that will train the next generation of engineers.
“The space has now been completely refurbished, enhancing its exterior appearance and significantly improving the internal specification.
“The site will eventually house 350 students and has also been designed to accommodate space for businesses linked to the educational offer. We’re incredibly proud to have been involved and look forward to seeing the rest of the campus develop.”
The completion of the £3.4 million facility in phase one has meant that West Suffolk College can consolidate its computing and engineering departments, bringing them together under one roof.
Gary Jefferson, executive director engineering and technology at West Suffolk College added: “The transformation of the Vitec factory is nothing less than remarkable. We have taken a 1960’s factory and, in phase one, we have created a state-of-the-art computer science and engineering facility which will train the creators, programmers and innovators of tomorrow from GCSE level through to degrees.
“We now have an ultra-modern teaching accommodation for nearly 400 students, covering digital technologies and engineering disciplines and are already approaching our capacity. The philosophy of the design is helping the cross-disciplinary project work that our students are completing with businesses. By creating spaces for students to circulate and collaborate on projects in a flexible environment, we can future proof them for success in their careers ahead.
“At this phase, we have still only developed approximately one third of the site and have amazing plans to develop the remaining two thirds. We’re set to expand our site by creating labs for agritech, physics, chemistry, biology, big data, artificial intelligence and fully immersive augmented and virtual reality technologies.”