Digital Academy launched to nurture next gen of engineering & tech talent

20 September 2019

Students visit Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton
Students visit Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton

Siemens has launched a new undergrad sponsorship programme to uncover, inspire & nurture the next generation of engineering & tech talent. The Digital Academy funds selected students £3k pa from year 2 of university, as well as up to 12 weeks' paid summer placement. Students will have the chance to join Siemens’ Graduate Scheme on graduation.

The pioneering programme is a partnership between Siemens, the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University. It aims to offer undergraduates a practical, collaborative space to explore Industry 4.0 technologies and put what they learn at university into real world use. Six trailblazing undergraduate students from EEE (electrical & electronic engineering) and computer science departments have been selected to pilot the programme this summer.

Nikhil Patel and Miles Moran from Newcastle University, Thomas Edwards from the University of Sheffield, Diana Crintea from the University of Southampton, Maryem Khan from the University of Loughborough and Ariana Escobar Chalen from the University of Manchester were unveiled at a launch event at Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton.

Brian Holliday, Siemens Digital Industries Managing Director, said: “The Digital Academy is another ground-breaking example of how Siemens and our higher education partners are working together to encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering and technology.

This programme gives undergraduates applied and up-to-date experience to bolster their academic learning.

By strengthening links between business and our world-leading universities, we can inspire and nurture talent to support the UK’s leading role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The first group of undergraduates were selected from the inaugural Sir William Siemens Challenge, a two-day hackathon-style event held at the University of Sheffield which involved 84 promising engineering students from partner universities. The challenge, dubbed ‘Mindsphere Live’, saw students put into 12 hybrid, multidisciplinary teams and asked to invent a unique device, powered by data.

Ian Donald, Head of R&D at Siemens Digital Factory in Congleton, said: “We really want to develop the next generation of engineers who can create and develop new exciting things.

The inaugural Mindsphere Live was a great way of bringing multi-disciplinary teams together to collaborate to bring data to life in a meaningful way.

These real-life problems gave students the opportunity to experience things that they may encounter in a business environment and insight into what life could be like at Siemens.

“The Digital Academy takes that experience to the next level. It illustrates that engineering is a practical subject where the real and virtual worlds co-exist, and where data plays an increasingly important part in creating value. It's not just about sitting at a computer, it's really hands-on. It's about interaction, working in teams to solve actual problems – which is what this pilot cohort will be doing this summer.”

Siemens Digital Academy pilot cohort
Siemens Digital Academy pilot cohort

One of those taking part in the pilot Digital Academy is Nikhil Patel, an electrical engineering undergraduate from Newcastle University. He said: “I wanted to join the Digital Academy so that I could work with a world leading organisation such as Siemens to enhance my knowledge of new technologies, and allow me to work with a range of other people to not only help improve Siemens as a business, but also to improve the connectivity of the world we live in.

Being part of the Digital Academy gives me an insight into how Siemens operates as a business and it also provides me with the means to be able to make a difference. It gives me the opportunity to develop my technical and transferable skills whilst working on real, cutting-edge projects and I think that being a part of this scheme will help to accelerate my career progression and allow me to grow as an individual, with the help of Siemens.”

Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President & Head of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are focused on bridging the Industry 4.0 skills gap by equipping students with the skills for the new digital economy.

Following a longstanding strategic partnership with Siemens, the University of Sheffield is delighted to be collaborating on the Digital Academy.

Our students will benefit immensely from working with such a pioneering and transformational technology company.”

Applications for the next Digital Academy cohort are now being accepted. For more information on how to apply, please visit:

About The Digital Academy:

The Digital Academy builds on Siemens’ commitment to forging a partnership with high education providers to bridge the Industry 4.0 skills gap. In June, Siemens, launched a new academic teaching programme, Connected Curriculum, in partnership with higher education providers and Festo, the global supplier of automation technology and provider of industrial training and education. It will bring advanced industrial tools, data and approaches into their respective apprenticeship, undergraduate and masters courses.

At the heart of the Connected Curriculum is Siemens Digital Industries world-leading industrial software portfolio and cloud-based IoT platform MindSphere. MindSphere is a highly secure operating system which connects industrial machines and devices via IoT protocols. It allows data from multiple sources to be captured and analysed simultaneously, creating a real-time picture of the whole production process via a single, powerful and intuitive interface.

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