Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Dean of the School of Science and Technology, commented:
We are delighted that HRH The Princess Royal took the time in her busy schedule to open Newton. As Royal Patron of the Women Into Science, Engineering and Construction campaign, her visit boosts our endeavour to advance gender equality in science, engineering and technology.
I’m extremely proud of what Newton has to offer and our response to the needs of individual students, employers and wider society.
Professor Kamal Bechkoum
The Grade II listed former school building has undergone an £11 million re-development which has seen it transformed into a state-of-the-art technology and research centre, offering enhanced office space and hi-tech computer and science laboratories.
On arrival, the Royal party was met by the University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Petford and Executive Director of the WISE campaign Terry Marsh. They received a tour of the Newton building, taking in the NVision 3D immersive visualisation facility (part funded by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund and supported by the East Midlands Development Agency) and a session on robots with University academic staff and pupils from Caroline Chisholm School and Wilby Primary School.
Following this, a short prize-giving ceremony took place in the Main Hall of Newton to recognise female students in science and technology and HRH The Princess Royal also unveiled the plaque which commemorated her visit.
Terry Marsh, Executive Director, WISE, stated:
Today was an excellent opportunity for the University to showcase its teaching excellence and reach out to an audience of young people. We’re delighted the Princess Royal is Patron of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and today’s event was hugely valuable in encouraging young girls to become interested and involved in the field of engineering.
Often, if girls are interested in science they are steered towards such subjects as biology, nursing or other health-related disciplines. While there is nothing wrong with this, positive outreach to girls on science and engineering is so important, as we are still combating a widely held perception that these are not areas that girls should or could become involved with.
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor, The University of Northampton, concluded:
It was very inspirational to have a high-profile figure such as the Princess Royal to open our Newton Building and speak with students and staff from our School of Science and Technology. She was very interested in our new NVision 3D immersive technology centre, which has been primarily funded by the European Regional Development Fund. NVision is an exciting development that offers huge scope for small to medium sized enterprises, and will lead to some very high standards of teaching and work with organisations across the region.
Professor Nick Petford