Posted Tuesday 31 May 2022
The importance of Kingston University's partnership work with a borough-based space engineering company – and the benefits such relationships can bring for the UK economy - was highlighted by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey during a recent visit to the firm.
The University has recently linked up with European Engineering and Consultancy Limited (EECL), based near the university's Knights Park Campus, to share knowledge and expertise and provide internships to give students hands-on experience of engineering parts that will end up on future space missions.
Kingston and Surbiton MP Sir Ed Davey recently visited the firm's head office after it secured a contract with the European Space Agency to provide GPS hardware for a mission that will fly on the ESA's Lunar Pathfinder spacecraft in 2024. During his visit, he met Bertie Kemp, a third year Kingston University aerospace engineering student who has been interning with the firm for the past nine months.
"The practical experience students from Kingston are getting by working hereat EECL is fantastic," Sir Ed said. "It is great to see Kingston University partner with one of the borough's standout technology companies and what really excited me is how beneficial this relationship will be both for the students and EECL itself."
During the visit, Bertie explained how he got the internship at EECL and how the projects he has been working on will end up playing a key role in upcoming space missions. "When my lecturers told me there was a chance to get this kind of experience locally, I jumped at the chance," he said. "The UK space industry is a really exciting sector to be working in at the moment. I've been able to do all kinds of work from working on a robot to testing antenna. The fact I've been able to work on such a wide variety of projects has given me a brilliant grounding and I've learned so much from it."
Senior lecturer in astronautics Dr Peter Shaw has been setting up a number of partnerships between the University and the space industry, with Kingston joining the SPRINT network of top UK space universities last year. He previously worked with EECL founder Dr Ben Kieniewicz before coming to Kingston and explained how Bertie's internship came together and how the rapid growth of the space sector was providing numerous opportunities for students and graduates. "What Ben has been able to do in such a short time at EECL has been really impressive," he said. "It's not normal for a startup to be winning such high-profile European Space Agency contracts so when he put a message out on LinkedIn to say he was looking for interns, and that he was based here in Kingston, it was an incredible opportunity for our students. Practical skills are a huge focus of the aerospace engineering degree so the chance to work with someone as well regarded as Ben was something I was really keen to put in place for students on the course," he added.
With Bertie being the first Kingston student to undertake an internship with EECL, Dr Shaw hopes more will get the chance to follow in his footsteps in the next academic year. The rapid expansion in the space sector in the UK means internships such as these will be invaluable for students looking to gain practical experience.
EECL was founded in 2016 and has worked closely with the European Space Agency as well as designing, building and selling its own customised products.
Dr Kieniewicz detailed how the partnership with the University has been a mutually beneficial one and demonstrated the importance of companies fostering such links. "It has been brilliant to have Bertie here helping us, especially as a small company every extra pair of hands is so important. We have also been able to provide him with the opportunity to learn a whole host of extra skills that will help him in his degree and future career. Since starting EECL it has grown into something so much bigger than I first imagined and we're delighted to be taking on projects that are really at the forefront of the global space industry," he added.
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