Siemens and the University of Salford unveil new engineering degree

A Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degree in control and automation has been launched by Siemens and the University of Salford to help meet industrial and manufacturing skills needs.

Last year, Siemens joined forces with the University of Salford and Trafford College to develop education and training programmes for school leavers to degree level. This new honours degree will help to address sector-specific skills gaps and will be available as part of the Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship standard for control/technical support engineers, or as a standalone solution for anyone with an existing appropriate level 5 engineering qualification and experience looking to upskill.

“The primary objective of creating this programme was to provide an academic roadmap for apprentices to achieve a degree as part of their apprenticeship,” says Siemens UK and Ireland apprentice scheme coordinator Jason Phin. “This was going to be funded as part of our Higher Apprenticeship framework scheme and now dovetails quite nicely into the new Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship standards where attainment of a degree is mandated and not just desired. 

“The first cohort will consist of a mix of Siemens apprentices, recently graduated apprentices and other engineering staff with an interest in academic advancement in their existing qualifications. Future cohorts are anticipated to include external apprentices from the schemes we are looking to manage in the future and of course, offering this option to our external customers who regularly undertake training through our SITRAIN business who are looking to upgrade their academic status.”

The yearlong top-up degree combines a number of academic modules including embedded systems and automation and robotics, together with Siemens’ Approved PLC Programmer Certification. A competency-based certification the company operates globally, this consists of three week-long training courses that not only deal with the programming side of PLCs but also their integration in a wider automation system incorporating HMI, variable speed drive (VSD) and remote I/O over industrial networks such as PROFIBUS and PROFINET, utilising a suite of integrated software tools.

“As the impact of digitisation continues to shape the UK’s industrial future, it is crucial we have the skills to support it. For this reason, we wanted to ensure this degree was not just purely an academic solution we would endorse, but that it would offer the practical skills required by the engineers of tomorrow,” notes Phin.

“The ability to put on a CV that you can program a Siemens PLC is one thing, but to have your competency also benchmarked by the manufacturer is a demonstration of due diligence,” he continues. “Across the world, Siemens has a very large presence in automation systems. This gives confidence to employers that the right skills training have not only been undertaken, but also measured.”

The first cohort will enrol on the degree programme this coming September.

“We’re looking for a minimum cohort of 10 this year, but to guarantee future feasibility we would be looking at a cohort number of at least 20,” Phin says. “This is by no means a maximum. As both the Siemens PLC training and University of Salford modules are block release, numbers will determine the repeatability of modules delivered during that academic year.”

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