Founded in 1970, the Design Unit is a self-supporting commercial organisation based within the School.
The Design Unit is a specialist outreach centre with expertise in design, development and research consultancy for Mechanical Power Transmission Systems. It does work for the international gearing industry across sectors including industrial, automotive, aerospace and defence.
For further information, see the Design Unit website.
NewRail, a dedicated railway research centre based within the School, has a vast range of expertise in diverse areas of the rail industry.
The aim of NewRail is to develop and maintain the highest international standards of excellence in rail-related research.
NewRail has a wide experience in applied research for railways focusing on the development and strategic implementation of innovative technologies. It has links to the major international players in the industry, as well as institutions and end users.
For further information, see the NewRail website.
Academics and researchers in the School undertake consultancy work as part of our commitment to engagement with industry at a regional, national and international level.
Here are some examples of organisations we've done consultancy work with.
We worked with the Northern Orthopaedic Retrievals ServiceNorthern Orthopaedic Retrievals Service (NORS) to provide analysis of artificial joints.
We provided Gear Technology with design, development and consultancy services in mechanical power transmission systems.
We did consultancy work with Railway Engineering for railway operators and manufacturers.
Engaging with Future Engineers
We offer the chance for companies to engage with our students.
Engaging with our students raises the company’s recruitment profile and lets it get to know a student before employing them. It also means we gain from having better motivated and more employable students.
We regularly circulate employment opportunities, both placements and internships, to our students and to the University Careers Service. Careers run 'fairs' for employers and can also arrange special company presentation sessions for students.
Many students on placements become sponsored, returning to the company for further placements, or bring back their own industrial project co-supervised by the company.
We can also help you become more familiar with what the University can do for you in terms of specialist services or in gaining supporting funds for developments through, eg the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) scheme.
How you can engage with our students
Read the information in the boxes below to find out how we could work with your company. Contact our Industry Liaison Tutor John Lockey to discuss further.
Student projectsStudent projects
Supporting a student project is not cost-free. It does demand time from company staff to make it work, but it allows the company to look at a student’s capabilities and 'fit'.
Some of our industrial student projects have spun off Knowledge Transfer Partnerships that we have with companies. We understand the need for Non Disclosure Agreements.
We are aware that the University academic year may not match industry timescales.
October to January
Each year we need enough companies to support 25-30 teams (each typically five students in the final year of their undergraduate degree). Teams do around 750 man-hour projects in local industry. We need these in place by the preceding July.
February to May
Next, students go on to do 300 man-hour individual projects. Many of these are company-based. We need these in place by the preceding November at latest.
February to August
Postgraduate Masters students do 600 man-hours individual projects, again arranged by the preceding November at latest. These have worked as follow-ons (but usually with a different student) to a Bachelor-level project.
October to May
Some undergraduate students now do the extra Masters-level year for MEng (rather than BEng). They do 3,000 man-hour team projects, which we need in place by the preceding July. Often these have developed from a student on a company placement or from an undergraduate project.
Mock interviewsMock interviews
Every second year student does a 'mock job interview' exercise in November or December to prepare them for the real thing. This helps them to prepare for placements and graduate jobs.
Our industrial contacts act as interviewers. Often companies have used these exercises to recruit placement students if the interviewer is impressed.
They have also used them as a risk-free interviewer development exercise, sending a trainee interviewer with someone more experienced.
Industrial visitsIndustrial visits
Industrial visits are an important feature of our preparation for the mock interviews.
Every year we need meaningful visits for about 12 students at a time from October to December.
The students give presentations on their visits to each other afterwards, so they learn about other companies as well as the specific one they visited themselves.
Sponsorship and prizesSponsorship and prizes
Our projects regularly include national and international competition entries which give sponsorship for publicity opportunities.
We regularly compete in Formula Student (Santander have been a major supporter). We have also recently investigated the IMechE Railway Challenge and European International man-powered Submarine Race.
Occasionally companies have sponsored something useful for student. For example, Conoco-Phillips presented all our first year students with a standard engineering reference book which will serve them throughout their future engineering careers.
Companies have sponsored and come to present the prizes we award to our best students.
Occasionally it has been possible for a company to incorporate a competition with prizes into one of our taught module assignments. For example, Weldtite used our students to generate ideas for future products.
Students find their own ways of building group identities, whether through sports clubs, societies or just discipline-centred groupings. Business sponsorship of 'badged' items such as hoodies, fleeces, etc or sports team kit is visible beyond just those who wear it. We are happy to facilitate such links with the students.
Practical engineering activitiesPractical engineering activities
We use off-campus provision for teaching practical engineering activities. These run from October to December, and then again from February to April.
All first year students now have sessions at British Engines, Caterpillar and Siemens, in our own labs, and at Tyne Met College. We would always be interested in discussing how suggestions for these could fit with our academic requirements.
We are always looking for real engineering cases to use in modules where we teach through practical assignments. For example, we've used Explorer Caravans for second year design and manufacture, Nexus (Tyne and Wear Metro) and Handicare for Master's-level human factors modules.
We want to bring industry into our courses, particularly with the first year where the benefits of the motivation generated are greatest.
We have a series of first year motivational lectures showcasing different industrial aspects of mechanical engineering. These broaden our students’ perspectives. They usually run from February to April.
We're always looking for providers of these.