TV star physicist Brian Cox said Middlesbrough College’s new STEM Centre should be a “blueprint for the country”.
The £20m facility – which focuses on science, technology, engineering and maths – replicates a genuine industrial environment and the equipment and professional operations are what you’d expect to find anywhere in industry.
Professor Cox spoke to Tees Business during his visit to Middlesbrough.
“It’s a genuinely impressive place,” Professor Cox told us.
“It’s a terrifically good idea. But like all ideas, it was a stroke of genius to think of it, and then very difficult to execute, but it’s been executed perfectly as far as I can see.
“Not only is this fully functioning with thousands of students, but this looks to me like a blueprint. We hear a lot about rebalancing the economy towards high-tech industry, and if you’re going to do that you need these, and there aren’t many of them.
“This is obviously the way to go as a country. If you think about the raw material that this country has – it’s not vast resources, it’s not like Australia where you can just dig uranium out of the ground everywhere – it’s its people.
“If you look at this region, not only have you got an enthusiastic future workforce – which you see all over the place at this college – but you’ve got a history of it going back for generations, a history of people, families and communities that understand what it is to work in complex, heavy industries, as well as new, high-tech manufacturing industries.
“That heritage is probably the most valuable thing we have as a country. It’s an obvious thing, but it’s hard to get everyone to go in the same direction.
“But it’s quite obvious that you take that heritage as a raw material and convert it into economic and industrial growth, so we need these places.”
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who’s also a governor of Middlesbrough College, told us: “I’m just bursting with pride about this place.
“It’s so ambitious and incredibly well thought through, by people who know their industries inside-out, a coming together of educationalists who wanted to enter into a partnership.”