Suffolk New College unveils its new state-of-the-art welding workshop

The grand opening of the new fabrication and welding centre at Suffolk New College

The grand opening of the new fabrication and welding centre at Suffolk New College - Credit: Archant

A new state-of-the-art fabrication and welding centre was officially opened at Suffolk New College by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer today.

Student Callum Booth-Donavan with Mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern

Student Callum Booth-Donavan with Mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern - Credit: Archant

The £400,000 centre, which includes a bank of ten welding bays and two virtual welding stations, was funded in conjunction with the New Anglia Skills Deals Programme, Weldability Sif and Ransomes Jacobsen.

Showcasing the new computer lab, Roderick Sutherland, the college’s director of business development, said: “What we have here is two virtual welding stations within the lab.

“These are here so students can come and learn the theory of welding, do a range of exercises and practice the skill.

“Then they can have a go for real.

“All the full time students doing engineering or anything related to construction will get a chance to weld.”

The project was set up to boost the college’s STEM offer (science, technology, engineering and maths), to increase apprenticeships in the county and to help reduce unemployment in Suffolk.

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Students on engineering and construction courses will get the chance to learn both TIG and MIG welding in the new high-tech centre.

Student Callum Booth-Donavan was having his first go on the equipment as the grand opening took place.

“I am doing engineering at the college but this is a new thing for me,” he said. “It is good this equipment is available for us.”

In a speech before the official opening, Adrian Hawkins, chairman of Weldability, said the new centre would ‘help with the skills shortage’ in Suffolk.

“We need more facilities like this to help improve the workforce of tomorrow,” he said.

Viv Gillespie, principal of New Suffolk College, added: “The whole point of this project is to help local companies upscale their workforce and to develop our apprenticeships in engineering so they can learn about welding as part of a future career.”

Following the grand opening, Ben Gummer MP said he was impressed with how the project had come together.

“I am really proud of this,” he said.

“It shows we are bringing high quality, high skill jobs back to Suffolk.”