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The ERDF funded Innovation to Commercialisation (I2C) project recently took part in a 'speed dating' event with the University of Chester's Faculty of Science and Engineering. Senior Project Engineer from I2C Barry Gleave interviewed 15 students to find suitable engineers for a four week work placement at Thornton Science Park. Each student had a two minute interview slot to find out all they could about I2C while Barry selected the three that he thought would be the best fit for the project.

Mastering the art of innovation

Lydia Kinman-Carroll, who is studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Chester, was one of the three students chosen. A major focus of her placement was to help prepare one of I2C’s regular masterclasses, which promotes design and innovation across the Cheshire and Warrington region. The hands-on learning event is open to anyone registered to the I2C project. This particular event will focus on computer control and monitoring. Lydia prepared a presentation to show attendees how to process and analyse data using computers and how to monitor different systems.

In addition, Lydia worked on a project that involved creating 3D models, drawing up Computer Aided Design drawings for manufacturers and also learning how to do accurate precision measuring in order to send out base plates to be made. As well as completing a University project and gaining valuable hands-on experience in a ‘real life’ working environment, Lydia was able to help develop I2C’s processes too.

Adding a new dimension to learning

Senior Project Engineer Barry Gleave explains, “It was great being able to involve Lydia in a real-life manufacturing project to give her a taste of what to expect once she is working full time in engineering. It was also really useful for us to learn from her. She introduced a very efficient method of colour coding information which helped break down the highly complex information we were working with into more manageable data. We are really pleased to be able to offer opportunities like this to students – it certainly provides mutual benefit.”

"It was fantastic to be able to apply what I’ve been learning at the University to a genuine manufacturing project during my placement. I hope I can come back next year and do an even longer placement then. I2C is at the cutting edge of innovation and design and I feel really lucky to have been involved in the Control and Monitoring masterclass, which was a great opportunity for SMEs to learn about processes in a really focused and practical way."

— Lydia Kinman-Carroll

The I2C initiative was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. SMEs registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington, who met the eligibility criteria, were eligible to apply for support from the I2C project. Applicants had to have a turnover of less than €50 million and employ fewer than 250 employees. In addition to I2C’s in-house team of engineers and specialist equipment, SMEs that enrol in the project had access to the world-class facilities at the University of Chester, via its state-of-the-art skills, equipment and resources based at Thornton Science Park and the NoWFOOD Centre in Chester.

The I2C project has now finished but if you are a business looking for access to facilities and expert growth support, please contact the University of Chester’s Business Growth team either by visiting, emailing or you can call 01244 512 477.