Posted Thursday 14 July 2016
The first stage of a £6.8m project to create new state-of -the-art science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) facilities at Kingston University's Penrhyn Road campus has been completed and is set to open to students in September.
The Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing secured £1.9m of Government funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) towards the project, which is delivering cutting-edge new laboratories and science and technology facilities for the benefit of the public as well as current and future students.
Part of the money was allocated to create new chemistry and pharmaceutics lab spaces packed with the latest equipment, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing Lucy Jones explained. "The two new laboratories, in the main building at Penrhyn Road, will provide an ultra-modern, attractive environment where all students have equal opportunity to thrive," she said.
"Working in partnership with staff and students we have developed sleek and functional spaces complete with integrated technology that is accessible through individual IT stations. This will allow students to access and process data in a way they have never been able to before, significantly enhancing their learning experience," Dr Jones added.
"The new development will increase the number of lab spaces from 72 to 96, which will enable the faculty to recruit more students from a wide range of backgrounds onto its courses and give those already studying here more practical, hands-on experience."
Alongside these new laboratories, the funding has also paid for the creation of an innovative new outreach space where the public can come and explore how cutting edge technologies are making an impact on people's daily lives. Accommodating up to 50 students, the centre will be available for local schools and community groups to use.
Other staff and students at the University will also benefit from this investment, with new high-spec teaching rooms being created adjacent to the new outreach centre which will be accessible to all students at Penrhyn Road. These facilities will pave the way for the future of teaching space at Kingston University, providing a flexible learning environment with innovative projection equipment and a suite of interactive screens that can be controlled by staff or students using their mobile phones or tablets.
The final part of the project has seen £400,000 invested in a mobile laboratory scheme called lab in a lorry, which will allow SEC academics and the University's outreach officers to take innovative STEM activities out on the road to local schools and events. Kitted out with forensic kits, patient simulator robots and virtual reality headsets, they will provide the next generation of scientists with the tools to get hands on with everything from immersive technologies to forensic investigations and DNA fingerprinting in their own school playgrounds.
The labs are currently visiting local schools as part of a pilot project that will go on to be rolled out across London from September. Both the outreach centre and the mobile labs will also boast the latest interactive sensory floor technology, enabling children of all ages to take part in fun, educational games and activities that bring STEM subjects to life.
Dr Jones said the new facilities would transform learning for both current and future students at the University and help inspire children across London to go on to study STEM subjects. "Whether you are five or 50, it's all about making STEM learning active and fun. As well as providing a brilliant student experience, these new facilities will ensure our graduates enter the workplace with the distinct and transferrable skills needed to launch their careers. They will also give young people access to activities and equipment that aren't available in most schools."
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