A centuries-old ritual has been held at the University of Chichester’s Bognor campus as the £35m Engineering and Digital Technology Park nears competition.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Longmore, watched by governors and construction company senior executives, poured oil and wine and scattered corn and salt over the highest point of the building before finishing the last section of concrete with a hand trowel.
Despite it being an historic moment, Professor Longmore was keen to look to the future, speaking of how the project will work to drive the ‘much-needed regeneration’ of the area and provide opportunities for students in sectors identified as a priority by the government.
She said: “The Technology Park will help us to deliver our vision of making our region a place where businesses, large and small, can thrive, create jobs, and where people can access the very best education and training opportunities.”
Engineering student Louise Grainger, from the university’s integrated foundation course which launched this year to make STEM degrees more accessible, attended the event and spoke of her excitement ahead of progressing onto undergraduate study at the ‘incredible’ park when it opens next autumn.
“I’ve always dreamt of one day working for a motor sports or F1 team and now I feel that I can achieve that ambition,” she said.
The park, which is set to open in September 2018, aims to attract 500 undergraduates and postgraduates to the university every year by 2021.
The project has been supported and part-funded with an £8m grant from the government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, which works to encourage economic growth across the region.
Its chief executive, Jonathan Sharrock said addressing the skills deficit in the Coast to Capital region, regarded as ‘one as the most advanced in the country’, is ‘vital to its continued success’.
As such, he added the partnership is ‘thrilled’ to be a part of the park and its work to equip students with ‘the technical skills they need to enter the modern digital workforce’.
He said: “We look forward to seeing future developments and seeing the wider benefits of this project.”