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Vehicle giant Nissan opens its R&D centre to showcase STEM career opportunities

MORE THAN 100 students gain a rare glimpse behind the scenes at vehicle manufacturer Nissan’s research and development facilities in Bedfordshire.

The Driving Innovation workshop, hosted at Nissan’s Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield, took place during National Apprenticeship Week (February 5-11) and was a showcase for the range of STEM sector careers with a focus on science and technology.

Around 150 students from Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Cambridgeshire took part in workshops after hearing from Nissan’s R&D and Total Customer Satisfaction teams about the marque’s latest European models the Qashqai, JUKE and LEAF – all of which were engineered in Cranfield.

They then tackled hands-on, experiential workshops led by Nissan experts which included:

  • Using chocolate for welding and construction to showcase material strength and structural integrity;
  • Demonstrating vehicle safety in collisions by simulating body structure through crashing eggs;
  • Using Air Zookas, an air cannon that delivers a soft ball of air, to showcase airflow and aerodynamics;
  • 3D printing gearboxes and strategically arranging powertrains to showcase their role in optimising vehicle performance and fuel efficiency.

David Moss pictured left, senior vice president, research and development, Nissan Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, Oceania, led the afternoon session. “It was fantastic to meet so many future innovators,” Mr Moss said. “Throughout my 35-year career at Nissan, our teams have always dared to do what others do not and that is what makes us different. As the automotive industry goes through a monumental shift, our R&D expertise is only as strong as the calibre of engineers we bring on board and there is nothing more exciting than inspiring the next generation.”

Nissan hosted the event in partnership with the organisation Proactive Young People which supports school students in making positive links with business. the students also had an opportunity to learn about Nissan’s efforts in Motorsport (NISMO) with a Nissan Formula E car on display and to hear about careers at Nissan, and the Nissan Possibilities Project, which was created to leverage Nissan’s technologies, resources, and expertise to provide opportunities for individuals from underrepresented communities.

Proactive Young People’s director Samantha Fitzgerald said: “Inspiring students through real-world experiences and hands-on workshops is crucial for career planning. It is fantastic to be working with such a large local employer like Nissan to offer students ample opportunities to explore careers in science and technology.

“I am confident that this partnership will play a vital role in inspiring the next generation of engineers in this area.”

Speaking shortly after opening the event, Yuri Rodrigues, regional vice president, Total Customer Satisfaction, Nissan AMIEO, said: “What better place to see top-class engineering first-hand, than at the heart of our technical centre here in Cranfield. Recognising that diversity in STEM contributes to a more innovative and inclusive future, it was a pleasure to open our doors to young minds, providing them with a hands-on experience to spark curiosity for the automotive world.”

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