Manufacturing Engineering Centre
The Manufacturing Engineering Centre won the 2000 Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of its contribution to the economy.
Specifically, the Prize was awarded for the Centre's innovative approach to creating an exceptional programme of support for firms using its research expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and practical technology transfer.
The MEC is seen as an exemplar of how a university can meet the diverse needs of small and medium enterprises as well as larger industrial concerns. Since its inception, the Centre has increased industrial competitiveness, created or safeguarded some hundreds of local industrial jobs and contributed strongly to regional regeneration.
Its achievements have included:
- Creation of a new mathematical procedure or algorithm, after observing the "waggle dance" of bees foraging for nectar. It enables companies to maximise results by changing basic elements of their processes.
- Development of highly specialised lenses for SPIRE's sensors made using a technique called "hot embossing" which ensures the material maintains its original characteristics even at -273 degrees C. SPIRE is one of three scientific instruments onboard the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory.
- Development of machinery that can drill holes as small as 22 microns (0.022 mm) in stainless steel and other materials, signalling a major advance in mechanical engineering and bringing benefits to designers in the medical and laboratory sciences, as well as electronic design engineers.
Since winning the Prize, MEC has gone onto set up a £7.5 million facility, MicroBridge, to enable engineers to produce microscopic components for industry and will enable precision engineers in manufacturing to work to the same micro-scales as those in electronics.
Based in the School of Engineering, the Manufacturing Engineering Centre was established in 1996.