Energy firms back new engineering degree at UEA

Norfolk's bid to lead the world's green energy industry has been boosted by the creation of a ground-breaking University of East Anglia course.

The region's leading energy employers have reacted with joy to news of the MSc in energy engineering and environmental management.

They hope it will provide new impetus to Norfolk and the east of England's efforts to be at the forefront of the renewable energy industry, which is set to become ever more significant and lucrative in the coming decades.

There are also hopes that the course will help the region to train and develop its own experts in the field, rather than having to look further afield for the skills required.

Employers and academics said it would be a 'key milestone' in the region's bid to become an 'internationally recognised hub' in the increasingly important sector.

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George Morrison, managing director of Norwich-based offshore engineering company Aquaterra Energy, said: 'This is a fantastically positive step forward by the UEA, and they should be congratulated for recognising the local need and moving to address it.

'Hopefully it is one step to building the long-term engineering future of Norfolk, and letting the region exploit the opportunities future energy needs will create.'

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Ben Milner, chairman of the university's engineering working party, said: 'Local people employed in the wind-energy sector are not at the high end. We are OK at providing people to go out to the turbines and paint them but we are not designing them. Local companies want the top-calibre people from the local area, not having to go to Germany and Denmark to recruit.'

Celia Anderson, director of Skills for Energy at the East of England Energy Group, said: 'We are really excited about the MSc programme as it represents another big step towards increasing the number of locally trained engineering graduates for the energy industry in this area.'

Paul Chilvers, regional manager of offshore industry firm ODE, said: 'As a locally-based company that employs engineering graduates to MSc level, we are delighted by the new courses which will be available through UEA. This is a great example of industry and academia working together through the Skills for Energy programme to help design and deliver a course to meet the needs of our regional industry.'

He added: 'In the past we have always had to take graduates who have qualified elsewhere, unable to recruit from those trained within our local area. Now we have the opportunity to sponsor our BSc level graduates to complete MSc courses, without the need for this to be undertaken with Universities much further afield.'

John Sewell, operations manager of Perenco and vice-chairman of Skills for Energy, called the development of a local degree programme a key milestone for the region's energy programme.

'It is our belief that through the di-verse range of energy supply and on-going investment within the region, the east of England can form an inter-nationally recognised 'hub' for future energy production and storage.'

The course is designed to build on UEA's substantial expertise in related fields such as applied mathematics, computer systems engineering, geo-physical sciences, physical oceano-graphy and physical chemistry.

Dr Milner said: 'We are very conscious that this is what employers want, particularly in the east of England, which has a growing energy industry base, and we are confident that we can equip graduates with solid training in the fundamentals of engineering and its application to the energy sector.'

Recruitment is now under way for entry in September.

If the course proves popular and successful, it may lead to an undergraduate course in the future.

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