The University of Sheffield has unveiled a new state-of-the-art learning facility in the heart of the city that will transform the learning experience for thousands of student engineers.

The Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ), developed in partnership with Siemens and run by an undergraduate team, is designed to be a ‘living lab’ where students can learn to use cutting-edge technologies, from edge computing to digital twin simulation, and apply it to their studies.

The new centre will include a digital twin of the University’s Diamond Pilot Plant – a world leading continuous powder processing facility that is the first of its kind in any UK university – which will give students the chance to learn how to run and maintain a real industrial plant virtually.

Professor Jim Litster, vice president and head of the Faculty of Engineering who opened the new centre, said: “The University of Sheffield is one of the top providers engineering research and education in the UK and we want to make sure we are continually pushing the boundaries of the learning experience for our student engineers.

“The DIZ will be an invaluable resource. It will be open 24 hours a day, providing the opportunity to learn and work with the technologies at the cutting-edge of industry whenever it suits them.”

Located in the university’s Diamond Building, a group of Siemens engineers and 25 student digital advisors will provide hands-on, trained expertise supporting the current and the new engineering cohort coming to Sheffield in September 2023.

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Dave Moss, head of Siemens Digital Innovation, who opened the facility with Prof Litster, said“As technology continues to reshape what is possible in industry, it’s important that we’re providing our future workforce with the tools and skills they need to thrive.

“Partnerships between academia and business act as melting pots for innovation. Our ambition is to put Sheffield’s student engineers at the forefront of the evolution in digital technology and that we continue to leverage projects like this one to attract more young people to consider engineering as a career.”

BEng mechanical engineering student Saad Mathar said“In an industry where practical experience is so key, the chance to work with such cutting-edge technology presents an amazing opportunity for us students to gain hands-on experience.”

The University of Sheffield is one of the largest providers of engineering research and education in the UK, with over 6,700 students and an annual research income of £89m in 2020/21.

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