Skip to content

Advanced Construction and Engineering Centre opened

24th February 2023 – Tags: Apprenticeships, Construction, Engineering, Motor Vehicle, T Levels

The college's new Advanced Construction and Engineering (ACE) Centre has been officially opened, following a £3.1m upgrade to our engineering and construction facilities funded by the Norwich Town Deal. 

The new facility will equip students and apprentices with the advanced technical skills needed in sectors which are experiencing rapid change as part of the move to more sustainable, low carbon technologies – with a particular focus on the automotive industry, manufacturing, construction, and civil engineering. 

Located within the Blakeney Building on the Ipswich Road campus, the ACE Centre has been created through a major refurbishment of 8 existing classrooms and workshops.  

These have been fitted with specialist equipment that is aligned to current industry practices and future skills needs, while supporting students and apprentices to become highly skilled advanced technicians.    

Motor vehicle skills for electric and hybrid vehicles  

Two existing workshops have been combined and modernised to create an impressive new Sustainable Transport workshop for motor vehicle maintenance training. 

The college has used the Norwich Town Deal funding to purchase 8 new cars, including 3 fully electric and 3 hybrid cars, for T Level students and apprentices to train on.   

This outstanding facility is fully equipped with the latest up to date training rigs and industry-leading diagnostic, testing, and repair equipment for Electric Vehicles (EVs) and the electronics systems used in all modern vehicles – including leading specialist equipment for calibrating cameras and testing other elements of advanced driver assistance systems.    

The Sustainable Transport workshop has been designed to complement the college’s existing motor vehicle workshop, which will continue to train students in the repair and maintenance of petrol and diesel vehicles.    

This expansion of the college’s motor vehicle facilities means that all students, including those on T Levels and apprenticeships, will be fully trained to work on any type of vehicle and will play a key role in supporting the industry wide transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles.   

Meeting the need for multi-skilled technicians in advanced manufacturing  

A new-look advanced manufacturing workshop has been equipped with three new Haas machine tools (increasing the capacity of the workshop to three CNC mills and two CNC lathes) and a new 3D printer. 

The workshop has direct access to a computer room featuring specialist engineering software and hardware, including standalone Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).  

This will enable students’ learning to flow seamlessly between programming and computer-aided design tasks and their application in the workshop to create prototypes and finished products. 

These new facilities, and the responsive development of the college’s engineering curriculum, mean that students and apprentices will develop the multiple skill sets that employers need for operating equipment found in industry. 

For example, apprentices working towards the Level 3 Engineering Technician standard complete modules in turning, CAD, PLCs and panels, fluid power, and hand-fitting – skills that will prepare them to solve the wide range of problems they might encounter as a field engineer or in similar job roles. 

International manufacturing influence in the ACE Centre 

The supplier of the new machine tools, Haas Auotmation Inc, is an international manufacturer of CNC machine tools and automation, which has its UK headquarters in Norwich. 

Mr PHJ Fenn, Director at Haas Automation Ltd, commented: 

The Haas machines in the ACE Centre use a Haas manufactured control system common to all machines, simplifying the learning process. These state-of-the-art machines are identical to those used in modern industry, and students learning on these machines will be taught the skills needed to step directly into an industrial career role.  


The proximity of our UK HQ to City College Norwich provides a direct link to the college for information on the latest developments as they occur in the USA manufacturing plant.” 

Haas Automation Inc. also participates in F1 and this year’s car, the VF-23 has recently had its first viewing by the F1 press. 

Lab upgrade will help develop knowledge of sustainability in construction  

The ACE Centre also features a Construction Lab, which has been transformed into a flexible, multi-use space that will considerably enhance the opportunities for students to carry out practical experiments. 

A large portion of the lab has been set aside for different types of testing, allowing construction and civil engineering students to conduct experiments with different building materials, make and test concrete samples, and carry out hydraulics experiments using a water flume which can be set up in the space. 

The lab also has a flexible teaching area, with interactive whiteboards and desks that a bank of laptops can be plugged in to. The set-up of the lab means that students can move easily between carrying out experiments, recording the results, and then presenting and discussing their conclusions. 

The Construction Lab will support the development of students’ knowledge of sustainable building practices and the properties of different building materials that can be used in low carbon construction projects. 

Leader of Norwich City Council, Councillor Alan Waters, officially opened the ACE Centre.

Leader of Norwich City Council, Councillor Alan Waters, officially opened the ACE Centre.

Developing a highly skilled workforce for a low carbon economy 

Jerry White, Principal, City College Norwich, commented: 

Key areas of our infrastructure and economy – including transport, housebuilding, and manufacturing – are undergoing far-reaching changes as we move towards becoming a low carbon economy. The new specialist facilities in the ACE Centre will play a key role in supporting this transition by enabling us to train the skilled engineers and technicians of the future.” 

Leader of Norwich City Council, Councillor Alan Waters, said:  

We’re committed to making Norwich a sustainable and healthy city, with clear ambitions to reduce carbon emissions, protect our environment and adapt to the challenges of climate change. By supporting these new specialist facilities at City College Norwich, through our successful Town Deal bid, we hope to speed up the transition to a zero carbon economy and give students the skills they need to succeed in the green industries of the future.” 

Oliver Jones, Engineering Director at Attleborough-based Plandescil Consulting Engineers, said:  

As a civil engineering based company we have to ensure our projects are meeting changing low carbon, sustainability, and economic requirements for building projects. We welcome these new facilities and City College Norwich’s drive to constantly deliver the best courses for students and to promote Norfolk’s engineering excellence.”