Man of Steel visits the AMP Technology Centre

An imposing four metre model of a future iconic landmark sculpture called Man of Steel, has returned to its ‘birthplace’ at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.

The cutting-edge sculpture was created on site through a collaborative process that involved Sheffield Hallam University, who carried out 3D modelling, and Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre who used a CNC 5-axis milling machine to create a version of the sculpture using a resin based material normally used to prototype parts in the aerospace and auto-motive sectors.  The finished sculpture is now on show to the public in the foyer of the AMP Technology Centre until Monday 2nd September.

The model is the first large-scale incarnation of a striking vision of the future by local Sheffield sculptor Steve Mehdi. The final 30 metre version will be made using local skills and local materials, showcasing the region’s specialised manufacturing techniques and drawing on traditional skills combined with apprentices; a 20 metre high stainless steel figure will sit atop an 18 metre ‘coal-like’ column that will overlook the M1 motorway from a former landfill site in Rotherham, a few miles north of the AMP Technology Centre.

The model for this symbol of industry and invention now sits in the company of a host of pioneering businesses based at the purpose-built development, which is a state of the art facility for companies working in advanced manufacturing, engineering and sustainable energy sectors.

Comments John Palframan from Creative Space Management, managing agent for AMP Technology Centre: “We’re delighted that this model of the ‘Man of Steel’ sculpture has come home to AMP. This project has the potential to be a totem for the region representing South Yorkshire’s history in the steel and coal industries, as well as its present and future in advanced manufacturing and engineering – making the AMP Technology Centre an apt setting for the model for the next month.”

Performance Engineered Solutions Ltd [PES], a company based at the AMP Technology Centre, has played a key role in helping to realise this ambitious piece of landmark art, which received planning permission in August 2012. The business, which has been based at the AMP Technology Centre since 2008, is the brainchild of Mike Maddock, a former member of the GB Skeleton Bobsleigh team and Dan Fleetcroft, who learnt his craft as an engineer with Ferrari’s Formula One racing team. The five-strong team currently are developing rapid prototyping to help bring to life the final monumental Man of Steel. PES is also working with Steve and other partners, including Sheffield University, to create a legacy for the area to set up an apprenticeship scheme that will involve young people in the project.

Comments Mike Maddock from Performance Engineered Solutions Ltd: “It’s great to have the Man of Steel in the building: it provides inspiration not only for us as we take on the engineering design challenges and focus on up-scaling the sculpture, but also for the other businesses based here, their clients and suppliers. We’re now working with Steve and, once funding is secured, hope to create opportunities for apprentices who we want to join with us and other partners on the project. Although we have a rich-pool of engineering and design graduates in the region, there are few opportunities for young people to gain ‘on-the-job’ experience in the engineering industry where they can put their learning into practice. This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to work on a highly original project and a phenomenal feat of engineering that will further raise the profile of advanced technologies and engineering excellence in this region.”

The project has the support of the Sheffield City Region LEP, which is also based at the AMP Technology Centre, and a group of industry partners who are working together to secure private funding for the venture.  One of the unique aspects of the Man of Steel project will include a STEM education programme for schools, offering a range of curriculum materials across all Key Stages in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Adds Steve Mehdi: “I’m delighted to be working side-by-side with the very companies that represent the future of engineering in this country, on a project which utilises ground-breaking innovation at every level, and pays tribute to the generations of local people who were employed or affected by the steel and coal industries across the region. This is also an opportunity to capture the imagination of the next generation and inspire young engineers of the future.”

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