Date of release: Monday, October 26, 2015

Medway MP visit and Hawke Lab OpeningA state-of-the-art laboratory and high-tech flexible learning space for engineering students costing more than £500,000 were opened at the University of Greenwich's Medway Campus by Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester and Strood, on Friday, 23 October.

Ms Tolhurst also unveiled a bronze armillary sphere sundial on the lawns facing the university's historic buildings at Chatham Maritime.

The sculpture is based on the design of a celestial globe by Ptolemy in the second century AD, which eventually led to the development of the navigator's sextant.

Commissioned to mark the arrival of the university at the Medway Campus 20 years ago, it reflects Greenwich's links with time and astronomy, and the famous nautical histories of both Medway and Greenwich.

The MP described the Medway Campus as a 'centre of excellence' which has played a huge part in the area's regeneration over the past two decades.

She says: "It is truly impressive to see the latest investment that the university is making in engineering and science. The campus is a fantastic success story and vital for Medway. During my visit I also learned of the university's many exciting plans for the future."

The Medway Campus is home to the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science, which supports more than 4,000 students on site. The armillary sphere sundial includes directional arrows pointing to the locations of a further 3,800 students overseas who are studying engineering and science subjects with the faculty's international education partners.

Ms Tolhurst viewed the new engineering learning space, which has the latest in audio-visual technology such as large monitors for group work, and motorised desks with individual retractable computer screens. This technology can enable up to four groups of up to 30 students each to use the space at the same time, studying different subjects.

The MP also toured the refurbished Nelson engineering laboratory, specifically set up to meet the needs of today's undergraduate engineers at Greenwich. They study civil, mechanical, electrical and electronic, and computer and intelligent systems engineering during their first year, before choosing a specialisation.

The fully-serviced laboratory includes equipment for all key experiments across the engineering disciplines and has a robotics suite attached.

Investing in the latest facilities for engineering students is part of the university's continuing bid to meet the national shortage of skilled engineers.

Engineering UK 2015 predicts that there will be more than 257,000 vacancies for engineers to be filled by 2022 with the potential to contribute an extra £27 billion to the UK economy every year.

Professor Martin Snowden, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering & Science, says: "The upgrade and refurbishment of our engineering facilities is part of our ongoing programme across the university to ensure we offer all our undergraduates and postgraduates a first-class student experience."

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Kelly Tolhurst MP, third from left, by the armillary sphere. Also pictured, left to right, Professor Martin Snowden, Richard Cottam, Professor Susan Lea, Stuart Ashenden and Professor Andrew Westby.