The Sensor City facilitated collaborative projects will form part of course module content

Sensor City are working closely with Unilever to connect their research and development (R&D) teams with the local student and academic researcher community, to engage in collaborative project opportunities.

Following last year’s successful student project launch, Unilever has set new industry challenges to the students in the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), to align their next set of industry challenges with specific course placements and help to prepare students for future careers in STEM.

Unilever’s Beauty and Personal Care Team have a number of upcoming R&D project opportunities involving data management, automation and robotics which students and researchers from a range of disciplines will participate in as part of their formal studies.

Working alongside the University of Liverpool’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics and LJMU’s Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering in the first instance, both individual and group projects will be developed, some of which may require a multi-disciplinary approach.

Helen Brannon, Research and Development Manager at Unilever, said: “Unilever are currently working on a host of Industry 4.0 automation and digital R&D projects for our sites, products and consumers globally, which includes cobots, factory sensors and chemical systems modelling.

“In collaboration with Sensor City, we want to reach out and help develop the next generation of experts in these areas, by creating industrially relevant projects for local students to complete alongside and as part of their degree programmes.”

The participating undergraduates, Master’s students and PhD researchers will be supervised by their course leaders and Unilever experts throughout. Additionally, the resulting undergraduate student deliverables will help count towards a Higher Education Achievement report (HEAR) which will supplement their degree awards.

Dr Princy Johnson, Programme lead for Sensors, Data and Management at Liverpool John Moores University School of Engineering, said: “We welcome the opportunity to co-create these plans with Unilever and to work with them over the next few months to tailor the projects with our requirements.

“The resulting placements will not only give our students experience of working with a well-respected and forward thinking global business, but offer practical situations in which to apply the knowledge gained during the academic elements of their modules.”

Professor Alan Marshall, Head of Electrical Engineering & Electronics at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is an extremely valuable opportunity for our students to work on finding solutions to real world problems that can make large scale impact.

“Aligning our ‘grand challenges’ and course content with Unilever’s autonomous systems, robotics and IoT focused projects, will provide a unique opportunity for different year groups to work together, utilising their different skill sets and levels of experience to maximum effect.”

It is anticipated that some integrated course projects may lead to paid summer internships and year in industry placement opportunities for local students, further enhancing their industrial experience and onward employability.

Unilever’s two-year Corporate Membership with Sensor City is one of the company’s initiatives to drive innovation within Liverpool City Region. This latest route to collaboration with Sensor City’s partner universities will benefit the region’s talent base, as well as further strengthening the long-term relationship between industry and academia.

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