On May 19th Cronton Sixth Form College officially opened their brand new IDEA Centre during a spectacular ceremony. Guests at the launch event included new Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, The Worshipful The Mayor of Halton Ged Philbin and a host of high profile industry employers and local VIPs who were excited to see what the IDEA Centre had to offer. Simon Reid, Sector Manager at the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership spoke at the event. Afterwards he said “This is truly a UK first, the idea of a cross-pollination of IT, digital, engineering and design skills to meet industrial & technical challenges under one roof; I think it’s truly ground breaking.” Keynote speaker Dr Phil Carroll from LPW Technology Ltd commented “If I were a student again, this is a place where I would like to be. One of the greatest challenges we face in the business is the recruitment and retention of skilled people, a centre like this is very useful and will be one of the catalysts for our company growth.” The Worshipful The Mayor of Halton Ged Philbin officially signalled the opening of the IDEA Centre with a ‘digital ribbon cutting’ in keeping with the centres futuristic technology. Guests were then able to tour the buildings facilities which include an advanced manufacturing workshop, a digital and electronics suite, a metrology suite, a process control workshop, a health and fitness suite, a project management suite, meeting rooms, a 3D modelling suite and an Industry 4.0 suite. After the tour Lesley Martin Wright from Knowsley Chamber of Commerce commented “I have been absolutely bowled over by what I have seen today at the IDEA Centre, this is modern technology at its best. I think you have a cutting edge and leading edge facility here that will be both attractive for employers and the students.” The new IDEA Centre introduces a unique facility offering students and employers innovative training facilities which will prepare students for the Industry 4.0 trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. The centre has been designed to enable students from different curriculum areas to collaborate on projects in order to develop a multi-skilled workforce to meet the needs of employers. New IT and computing facilities will allow students to develop virtual reality environments using HTC Vive technology, opening a host of new career paths in all types of industry. Collaboration between IT and engineering students will also be encouraged through the development of artificial intelligence driven systems to program and operate robotic buggies. The Health and Fitness Sports Suite contains the latest performance analysis software and a range of advanced fitness equipment. Engineering students will be able to study and develop realistic robotic solutions with industry standard technology from FANUC. There are two fully integrated SMC manufacturing process systems in the workshop that will enable students to solve real manufacturing issues. Students will also be able to develop skills in programmable logic controllers, pneumatics and hydraulic engineering using FESTO bespoke training rigs. John Sankey, Head of Engineering and Construction, said “The equipment at the IDEA Centre has enabled a complete revamp of the curriculum to ensure that our students leave us with extremely marketable skills to progress within industry.” Staff and students are excited now to able to access the facility and its equipment. The college is also looking forward to welcoming over 4000 year 9, 10 and 11 pupils from local schools to experience the centre at a variety of taster days in the summer term.