18 June 2014 15:35

An official ‘topping out’ ceremony at Lancaster University’s new engineering building on Tuesday prompted a real trip down memory lane for the chairman of Eric Wright Group.

Addressing the group who had gathered to witness the ceremony on Tuesday, Mr Eric Wright recalled another ‘topping out’ ceremony he had attended just under half a century ago at Lancaster University.

 “I was working for Fleetwood-based Brown and Jackson, who built much of this university, and one of the first jobs I was associated with was the iconic County College,” he said. “We had a topping out ceremony then. That was about 50 years ago so today really cements my relationship with the University and with Lancashire.”

The construction term ‘topping out’ traditionally heralds the placing of the last beam on top of a structure. On Tuesday it was a sprig of beech festooned from a girder which symbolised the beam.

The new development will provide additional areas for future growth and recent new specialisms such as nuclear, energy and chemical engineering.

Designed by internationally-renowned architects John McAslan + Partners and built by Lancashire-based Contractors Eric Wright Construction Ltd., the new building will be open for business early next year.

It will provide a world-class environment with specially designed workshops, teaching laboratories and office areas.

The two-winged development, with a central atrium, will house mechanical workshops and laboratories on the ground floor, electronics and chemical engineering on the first floor with levels three and four providing academic office space, study areas and meeting zones.

Students will benefit from the new inspired working and learning environment kitted out with all the latest, state of the art equipment, workshops and laboratories. Contemporary ‘live labs’, visible from the outside of the building, are a key feature of the new design.

The department will also comprise extensive chemical engineering facilities, hydropower rigs and nuclear laboratories and high quality research facilities for marine renewable energy, chemical engineering, manufacturing, micro/nano systems and terahertz.

The decision to invest and build the new high profile centre of excellence is set against a backdrop of a thriving global engineering industry.

The university’s long established engineering department has grown substantially, in both student and staff numbers and in reputation, in recent years.

The University has supported the engineering department’s significant growth in recent years with the recruitment of 20 new academic staff, most with international experience, to cater for the department’s 440 students.

Head of the Engineering Department Professor Malcolm Joyce said: “It’s wonderful to see the new engineering building take shape and realise its form on campus. It is a great source of excitement and inspiration for staff and students alike.”