Heriot-Watt partnership engineers future maritime success

Kevin McLeod, Engineering Director, BAE Systems Surface Ships, and Dr Theo Lim, Heriot-Watt University

BAE Systems has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Heriot-Watt University to mark the launch of its scheme to establish four new university partnerships in the field of maritime engineering. The partnerhips will be worth at least £5 million over the next five years, as part of its research and development investment in the maritime sector.

Three further university partners will be named over the next 12 months.

The collaborations will include investment in long-term research projects as well as programmes to apply new technological solutions to the design, build and support of naval ships and their engineering systems. Under the agreements, BAE Systems will provide industrial placements for students and guest lecturers. Both partners will also offer continuous professional development opportunities for employees and reciprocal secondments to strengthen the relationships between academia and industry.

Alan Johnston, Managing Director of BAE Systems Surface Ships, commented: "These partnerships will focus on platform systems technologies, systems engineering and readiness and sustainment, which are vital to deliver new and better capabilities to our customers.

"By working closely with universities, which are recognised as the best in their field, we will not only drive continuous innovation in our business, but also further boost the quality of research within universities by ensuring it has practical applications in industry. We hope that this will play a role in tackling future skills shortages, by enhancing the learning experience for students and encouraging more people to pursue careers within engineering."

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: "Developing collaborations between world-class organisations such as BAE Systems and Heriot-Watt is what our University is all about. Such formal relationships ensure that Heriot-Watt continues to be aware of business priorities, so we can tailor our offerings and research to ensure we meet our ambition of producing the next generation of global leaders in business and technology.

"The relationship with BAE Systems allows the company access to the University's unique resources, enhancing its engineering reputation and achieving long-term engineering excellence while we will further increase our reputation for the quality and applicability of our research."

Heriot-Watt University has a well-established reputation for the quality of its teaching and applied research in science, engineering and technology. The first research project to be established under the partnership will focus on developing an advanced computer software package that will control and reduce gases required during the welding process, helping to reduce both costs and environmental impact.

BAE Systems is one of the biggest UK supporters of education and skills, investing £50 million per annum to support its commitment to life-long learning. The Company is committed to investing in the skills of both its existing workforce and to playing a key role in supporting the development of future engineers in the UK. BAE Systems has links with approximately 100 universities globally through its university partnerships programme, with over 30 of these with UK institutions.