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Mechanical Engineering Partnerships

We offer the chance for companies to engage with our students for a mutually beneficial and professional relationship.

Design unit

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.

Organisations we've delivered consultancy work to in our mechanical engineering partnerships include:

The Northern Orthopaedic Retrievals Service (NORS) to provide analysis of artificial joints.

Gear Technology with design, development, and consultancy services in mechanical power transmission systems.

Railway Engineering for railway operators and manufacturers.

Engaging with future engineers

We offer the chance for companies to engage with our students through our mechanical engineering partnerships.

Engaging with our students raises the company’s recruitment profile and facilitates a mutually beneficial and professional relationship with the 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 mechanical engineering partnerships, e.g. 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 projects

Project support

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' for the organisation.

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.

Project timescales

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-hour individual projects, again arranged by the preceding November at the 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 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 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 prizes


Our projects regularly include national and international competition entries which give sponsorship for publicity opportunities.

We regularly compete in Formula Student where Santander has 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, or sports team kit is visible beyond just those who wear it. We are happy to facilitate such links with the students.

Practical 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, 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.