Prime Minister announces £4m investment boost for dynamic test facility

David Cameron has announced a major investment boost which will set the UK to take a world lead in structural dynamics research. The £4million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) was announced during a trade mission to Malaysia and Singapore, arranged by the Department of UK Trade and Investment to strengthen support for the Northern Powerhouse and improve university-industry collaboration.

The Structural Dynamics Laboratory for Verification and Validation (SDLVV) will be built on the second phase of the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Park and will allow industry to test and research engineering structures and systems from the component level to full scale. It will also allow testing across a range of environments previously inaccessible to academic research.

A modular environmental chamber in the laboratory will be able to control temperature, humidity and wind speed as well as simulate rain and snow. The ability to test in realistic conditions at full scale will pave the way for engineers to create lighter, greener, safer structures.

Professor Richard Jones, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: "Computer simulation of models of the way large structures behave in use are increasingly powerful, but for industry to realise the full benefits of these techniques we need to test these models against large scale experimental data, so they can be confident of their results.

"This facility will allow us to do this testing, giving industry confidence in the models and allowing faster and therefore more cost effective product developments in a number of different industry sectors."

Led by the Dynamics Research Group (DRG) in the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, the laboratory will offer benefits across a range of industrial sectors including energy, aerospace, renewables and medical engineering.

It is hoped the facility will enable the DRG to become the primary resource for structural dynamics within the European Union.

Set to become director of the SDLVV, Professor Keith Worden, head of the DRG, said: "This facility will have the ability to test structures like helicopters and airframes at full-scale and will present the UK with a unique opportunity to take a world lead in verification and validation."

Speaking about the major investment from the EPSRC, Professor Philip Nelson FREng, chief executive of the EPSRC, said: "By investing in this area of research and innovation at Sheffield, we are providing an internationally excellent platform supporting industry and business to help deliver a successful economy and future growth."

Construction is already underway on the first project at the site, the £43m Factory 2050 which is said to be the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research. Plans are also in place to develop the existing Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which could create 1800 jobs and provide an annual direct contribution of up to £74.2m to the local economy.