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Equipping new world-class engineering labs in The Diamond

06 April 2016

When re-developing its engineering program, The University of Sheffield chose NI as a key partner to help equip and support their new, £81m building.

Designed with an aluminium diamond-shaped façade and containing 19 engineering laboratories, The Diamond delivers multidisciplinary, practical, problem-based learning activities, all under one roof.

The Diamond provides new levels of engaging, hands-on teaching as laboratories are equipped with the same industry-leading NI hardware and software technology used by more than 35,000 companies around the world. NI believes that hands-on learning solidifies theoretical concepts and prepares students for industry or advanced research. Skills learned in the classroom, paired with platforms that scale to industry, prepare students to solve the grand challenges of tomorrow. Using NI’s standardised platform within The Diamond gives students the flexibility to adapt and move experiments between laboratories, improving their problem-based learning skills, resulting in highly employable engineers.

“The key is realising that theory alone doesn’t excite a student’s sense of wonder - it’s the promise of putting theory to work through the use of real-world tools to ‘do engineering’ ” said Dr. James Truchard, Co-Founder and CEO of National Instruments. “With this approach, we not only prepare current students for meaningful careers but also attract new students to a profession that so critically needs them.” 

Students working in the new fully equipped laboratories in The Diamond benefit from NI technology such as NI ELVIS, a multidisciplinary teaching platform that enables multiple labs to be taught using one device, together with NI myDAQ and myRIO, enabling students to measure and design complex systems away from the traditional lab bench. This is in addition to The University of Sheffield’s existing campus-wide NI software license and the use of LabVIEW software and NI hardware to support teaching activities in faculties such as Automatic Control, Mechanical, Electronic, Chemical and Civil Engineering. The integration of these industrially-relevant technologies ensures that Sheffield University’s students do not just learn engineering, they do engineering. The students will graduate with the practiced, transferable engineering skills required to innovate from day-one of their careers.

Professor Stephen Beck, Head of Multidisciplinary Engineering Education, University of Sheffield said “We educate students to deliver real solutions to open ended problems. This enables our graduates to be capable researchers and effective engineers. Learning on industry standard equipment such as our suite of NI hardware helps them to be more flexible, employable and capable graduate engineers”

“Over the years, I’ve seen university students around the world solving complex problems by designing real engineering systems” said Dave Wilson, NI Vice President of Academic Product Marketing. “I have seen, first-hand, the incredible things that can happen when a student combines their newly discovered engineering skills with the right system design tools. During my recent visit to The Diamond, I told Sheffield students that I was confident they would do great things, as they have access to cutting edge technologies in one of the finest engineering facilities in the world.”

NI has a long-established partnership with The University of Sheffield, from hiring interns and graduates; to supporting their Formula Student and their IMechE Railway Challenge teams. Also, the University is involved with the LabVIEW Student Ambassador program, where top students deliver on-site LabVIEW training courses for their peers. The collaboration continues with sharing best practices and providing industry insight as representatives from NI take part in the University’s Industrial Advisory Board and the ‘Engineering – Your Hired’ recruitment training. NI is also a member of The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, the centre for advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors.


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