THE new multi-million-pound engineering centre at North Highland College UHI in Thurso has reached a milestone.
Construction work on the £8.8m Engineering Technology & Energy Centre (ETEC) is complete and work has now begun to install equipment in preparation for the centre opening later this summer.
The first intake of students to the new centre will be in early September and will include first-year apprentices from local engineering companies.
Jim McLaughlin, human resources director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which has invested £2m in the project, said: “There is already a strong local engineering capability in the North of Scotland that has been fostered by its association with Dounreay.
“ETEC will provide a high-quality learning environment that mirrors workplace conditions, bringing engineering practice and theory more closely together and giving NHC Engineering students, and the companies they work for, a competitive edge.”
Michael Dunnett, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd’s head of human resources and chair of the Scottish regional steering group for the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, said the facility will be a major asset to the area.
“This is a major investment to ensure that we have a skilled and competent workforce to support the nuclear industry in Scotland but also to support the offshore renewable developments which are planned around the coastline of Caithness and north Sutherland,” he explained.
Looking forward to the opening of the new centre is college vice-principal and director of learning and teaching Donald MacBeath. He said: “Over the past three years, the college’s campus in Thurso has been transformed through the creation of ETEC and the Centre for Energy & the Environment.
“The ETEC is truly a facility to be proud of and it will equip the college and its stakeholders to make a full response to the area’s engineering skills development and education needs for many years to come.”
The centre is believed to be amongst the largest and best equipped of its type in the North of Scotland, providing approximately 3600 square metres of purpose-built engineering facilities, dedicated to the engineering and renewable energy sector.
The ETEC project is being funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Highland Council; Highlands and Islands Enterprise, European Regional Development Fund and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.