Construction begins on landmark new development at the University of Hertfordshire

20 January 2022

Construction of a landmark new development at the University of Hertfordshire was officially launched today with a ground breaking ceremony at the College Lane campus in Hatfield. University staff were joined by representatives from Morgan Sindall Construction and the Mayor of Hatfield, Cllr Richard Griffiths, to celebrate the milestone.

The multi-million pound building, announced in November, will provide a state-of-the-art, sustainable home for the School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science (SPECS). As building work begins on the five-storey, 15,000m2 steel structure, the University has revealed more details about the new development.

A sustainable, innovative home for sector-leading teaching and research

The multi-purpose teaching, research and enterprise space will combine contemporary, innovative materials that mirror the activity inside the building, and traditional materials that connect it to the University’s heritage. Sustainability is at the heart of the project, using modern construction methods and off-site manufacturing to help deliver the University’s Climate Change Vision, including water reduction, biodiversity, carbon management and air quality.

State-of-the-art facilities will provide students with up-to-date, real world experience, mirroring the industries in which they will pursue careers. Features will include a robotics lab, advanced cybersecurity facilities, electric vehicle centre, flight simulator, wind tunnel and a cutting-edge Experiential Learning Zone, where projects can be taken all the way from concept to testing and operation under one roof.

Driving skills and economic growth

The new hub will boost not only the learning of current students, but the wider local and national economy. Professor Rodney Day, Dean of the School, explained: “The new SPECS home will transform the student experience – demonstrating the exciting and fulfilling possibilities within modern STEM careers, and driving more young people from all backgrounds to want to study in these fields.

“There is a UK skills gap and a lack of diversity in STEM industries, both of which hold back progress. From the underpinning subjects of engineering, computer science and physics, to applications of machine learning, robotics, cyber security and data science, the new building will reflect the teaching and research that we excel at. It will support the provision of a future workforce with advanced skills and expertise that will generate economic growth”.

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE, Vice Chancellor, added: “The University of Hertfordshire is built on 70 years of applied expertise. We’ve always solved problems for businesses and our work continues to directly fuel the British economy, through our graduates, research and local business partners.

“A lot has changed since we were founded in 1952 – but, incredibly, we are still using the same building that Hatfield Technical College used 70 years ago, although of course the technology inside looks radically different now. I’m delighted to mark the beginning of this brand new construction, which will give us the space and equipment to be at the forefront of teaching, learning and research in science, engineering and computing”.

David Rowsell, Northern Home Counties area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: "Today’s ceremony marks an exciting milestone in what promises to be one of the most prestigious schemes delivered by the Northern Home Counties business over the next few years. The development was secured through the Southern Construction Framework (SCF), delivering a state-of-the-art facility boasting impressive sustainability credentials. As an established Hertfordshire business and a longstanding client of the University of Hertfordshire, we know that this state-of-the art project will deliver some truly remarkable benefits for the community, including the delivery of real social value and a broad range of opportunities for the area’s next generation of students.”

Investing in the next generation

The ground breaking event also marks the launch of the University’s major fundraising campaign to support the capital build and to supply the world-class equipment required to create a collaborative hub for innovation, learning, research and enterprise.

The University will engage with local and national business, trusts and foundations, and individuals including alumni to meet its ambitious target. Supporters can be get involved in a number of ways, including: named sponsorship of the building, laboratories and other spaces within the building; funding for equipment; research support; and financial help for the students such as scholarships and work placements.

Find out more about the fundraising campaign here.

The new SPECS building is scheduled to open in 2024. Read more about the University’s investment in campus facilities.


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