Here’s our roundup of news from the last month! Stay safe - and don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help you with career advice.
Up to 125 jobs to be created with Lotus factory move
Up to 125 jobs could be created at Lotus Cars after the company announced the relocation of its steel fabrication and lightweight structures businesses to a new site in Norwich. New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norwich City Council helped secure the move.
The brand intends to bring its aluminium chassis and steel sub-assembly manufacturing together into one facility to improve efficiencies for Lotus manufacturing; the 12,300 square-metre factory will house manufacturing of aluminium extruded and bonded aluminium chassis for three sportscar models, and aluminium components for Lotus’ global customers.
Williams Advanced Engineering becomes Gen3 battery supplier for Formula E.
Williams Advanced Engineering has won the contract to supply the Gen3 battery for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, following a tender process by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
The company built the series’ battery system in its inaugural season, 2014/15, with McLaren Applied Technologies the incumbent supplier. WAE’s third generation system will boost cars from the current 250kW maximum to 350kW, with a 30-second fast charging capability for the 2022-23 season.
Manufacturing & Tech
Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation deal to create North East battery hub
Hitachi Rail and Hyperdrive Innovation have signed an exclusive agreement to develop battery packs to power zero-emission trains and create a battery hub in the North East. The move could be a major boost for industry in the UK, accelerating the creation of mass-produced batteries providing emission-free power for hundreds of UK battery trains.
Almost two-thirds of the UK’s 20,000-mile rail network is not electrified, meaning the potential market for the battery technology could be over 400 trains. Early recipients of the technology could likely include Hitachi’s own fleet of 275 trains, as well as new metro and intercity trains that will replace existing diesel fleets in the coming years.
Currently, British trains use 469 million litres of diesel annually, emitting over 2.4 million tonnes of CO2. The partnership is seen as key to modernising and decarbonising UK rail networks and helping achieve the government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.
Pandemic has opened the floodgates for smart cities
Klaus R. Kunzmann, a professor emeritus and the former head of the Institute of Spatial Planning at the Technical University of Dortmund, has predicted a speeding-up of smart city development in the wake of the pandemic. Writing for disP —The Planning Review, he argues that conditions created by COVID-19 mean it will be easier for local governments to pursue technology in traffic control, crime prediction and data sensors.
According to Kunzmann, several factors have enhanced public readiness for change. In the wake of the pandemic - especially in Europe - the general population is more open to top-down government guidance (such as on social distancing), which has evidently reduced infection rates. This, combined with a rise in remote working and communication facilitated through digital technologies, and the need to rebuild shattered economies, means that public resistance to efficiency-focused solutions will lessen, with convenience outweighing privacy concerns.
One consequence of the pandemic could be the rise of smart grids, with energy and water companies optimising and costing energy flows based on demand, as well as sensors that monitor and balance traffic flow.
Musk’s shout-out for talent as Model Y ramps up
In a recent Q2 Earnings call, Elon Musk said he wants to attract new, excited, brilliant manufacturing engineers to Tesla as the company ramps up its operations. The brand’s new Gigafactory outside Berlin will build an alternative version of the Tesla Model Y to the one being manufactured in the USA (Fremont and Austin), with a raft of talent required urgently to build new, efficient production line equipment.
Musk also used the earnings call to announce that his next Gigafactory will be in Austin, Texas - the site where the forthcoming Tesla Cybertruck will be built. Set in around 2,000 acres on the Colorado River, the site to-be is described by Musk as “an ecological paradise," open to the public and only 15 minutes from downtown Austin.
Study reveals huge boost to lifetime earnings for engineering graduates
A new study of over 2,000 UK adults by money.co.uk has revealed that an engineering degree increases average lifetime earnings by £140,000 – more than £32,000 above the average increase from having a degree. The survey data, which was combined with salary data from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, shows that an engineering degree boosts wages by more than most other degrees.
The data from both sources has been used to create a new degree valuation calculator, which also reveals variances in earnings, such as the gender pay gap, which stands at over 10%.
62% of respondents in the study didn’t believe a university degree would increase their lifetime financial value, yet graduates typically earn 23% more over their lifetime than individuals without a degree.