Powering the Future

A brand new Skills for the Future Lab, which will inspire the future workforce to excel in emerging technologies, officially opened in Arbroath today, with local students exploring wind power through virtual reality.

While construction gathers speed on the Seagreen offshore wind farm 17 miles off the Angus coast, local students enjoyed an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) visualisation of the engineering aspects of offshore wind farms in the Lab. Comprising a VR suite, the facility at Dundee and Angus College’s Engineering Partnership Innovation Centre will promote STEM engagement throughout Dundee and Angus.

Creating a legacy for the region, Seagreen, a JV partnership between TotalEnergies and SSE Renewables, has provided £300,000 of STEM funding to Dundee and Angus College. A large proportion of this fund has directly supported the creation of the Skills for the Future Lab.

Seagreen is set to become Scotland’s largest and the world’s deepest fixed-bottom offshore wind farm. It will comprise 114 turbines capable of generating around 5,000 GWh of renewable energy each year and will generate enough clean and sustainable electricity to power around 1.6 million UK homes.  The project will also save over two million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. 

With over half of the turbines now installed and power already being generated the Seagreen wind farm requires a workforce spanning technical, operations and safety, with career prospects ranging from engineers, wind turbine technicians and vessel crews to health and safety advisors, safety auditors and control room operatives.

Bringing a host of subjects to life, from low-carbon transport and hydrogen to health and safety, the Lab will showcase new and emerging technologies for the engineers of the future, with an array of interactive equipment and resources. Through the latest offshore wind VR software, learners can explore realistic and immersive visualisations of the engineering aspects of wind farms similar to the Seagreen project. The Lab will also house interactive STEM exhibits and the latest computer-assisted design technologies.       

As well as engaging students with STEM, the Lab will provide hands-on skills and experience for College students and apprentices embarking on 10 brand new industry-specific courses, including advanced manufacture, robotics, additive manufacture and computer-aided design.  The facility will also be a unique resource for local businesses committed to upskilling or re-skilling their teams as part of the transition to net-zero and facilitating research, development and prototyping.

Simon Hewitt, Principal, Dundee and Angus College, believes the college has a critical role to play in delivering a talent pipeline to meet industry’s skills needs – “The opening of the Skills for the Future Lab represents a pivotal moment for Dundee and Angus College and the wider region. As Scotland accelerates its journey to net-zero, there are countless exciting and lucrative career options ahead and it’s fantastic to see so many students inspired and motivated by the technologies on show today.

“These facilities will go a long way to support the Dundee and Angus Regional STEM partnership in achieving the development and delivery of a ‘STEM’ pathway, providing primary, secondary, further education, higher education and industry with the opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills for careers in STEM. We are extremely grateful to Seagreen for their support which will create tangible and long-lasting benefits for our community and economy.”

Robert Bryce, Director of Asset Management Offshore, SSE Renewables added, “As a responsible developer, it is vital that we support the local economy and Scotland’s supply chain and that we contribute to the education of the next generation of renewables professionals.

“We are proud to have funded the Skills for the Futures Lab and I hope that it inspires many of the young people who visit to pursue the much-needed STEM roles we need to fill in order to make the transition to a net-zero Scotland.”

Beyond the Lab itself, a range of mobile resources will be made available to engage with schools and communities across Dundee and Angus, bringing a range of STEM programmes to life. The SWEL fund will also support a second Skills for the Future Lab at the MSIP Skills Academy, the College’s partnership with Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc.

The Engineering Partnership Innovation Centre is part of the Tay Cities Engineering Partnership which brings together expertise from training organisations, public sector bodies and engineering employers across the Tay Cities Region. The Scottish Government has committed up to £2M to the Tay Cities Engineering Partnership, as part of the Tay Cities Region Deal, which will drive the transformation of manufacturing processes required to meet the ambitions of The Fourth Industrial Revolution.