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Engineering a French connection

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Published on 06 December 2018

Mayor of Saint-Nazaire visits AMAP
Mayor of Saint-Nazaire visits AMAP

A French delegation, led by the Mayor of Saint-Nazaire, has visited the University of Sunderland’s advanced manufacturing and engineering facilities as part of a city-wide tour.

This year, Sunderland and Saint Nazaire celebrate the 65th anniversary of the twinning relationship between the two cities. And as part of the long-standing friendship agreement, our university has been hosting summer exchange placements with Polytechnic Nantes for the last 10 years.

The most recent exchange saw three students from Nantes - Maxime Damy, Gregory Liset and Simon Troadec - undertake their three-month work placement with Sunderland’s Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP), developing a range of Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) applications covering sensor technology, collaborative robots and developing engineering training scenarios on Virtual Reality systems.

During his visit, The Mayor David Samzun toured AMAP and saw first-hand some of the technologies the placement students work on. The tour included the new facilities currently being installed to support the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project that is working to help local SME manufacturers embrace innovation in product and process technologies.

The Mayor’s tour also included a visit to the Port of Sunderland, alongside his fellow cabinet members and Chief of staff, to discuss the city’s continuing economic regeneration and on-going educational links.

Roger O’Brien, Director at AMAP, said: “It is fantastic that the experience and projects the students get involved in here during their placement have filtered back to the civic authorities in Saint-Nazaire, which resulted in them specifically asking to visit to see our research and development facilities and learn more about our exciting developments and how we support the exchange program.”

He added: “The Mayor and his senior team were really interested to see first-hand our range of the latest technologies and learn of the work we do to support local industry as well as the work with students. This reinforced the important links and partnership between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire, as well as highlighting mutual areas of interest for work on transportation, renewables and manufacturing.

“In particular the Mayor was impressed by our Virtual Reality applications and our latest 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies, and was keen to extend collaboration between similar institutes working on these areas in Saint-Nazaire. He and his team are also now the proud owners of a selection of bespoke AMAP 3D printed objects demonstrating some of our latest techniques.”

During The Mayor’s tour there was also a ceremonial planting of an indoor ornamental fern in the Winter Gardens at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden in the city centre, to help celebrate the 65th anniversary of the important friendship and co-operation which unites the two communities.

The Leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of the Port Board, Councillor Graeme Miller said: "There are many similarities between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire - cities by the sea, with economies built on ship-building, advanced manufacturing and increasingly diversifying to develop strong digital expertise.

"Generating economic and educational benefits is key to our engagement with international partners, and as we each continue to develop opportunities for our cities and communities, we have a strong track record on which to build in our partnership with Saint-Nazaire."

The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan added: "I was both honoured and proud to join the Mayor of Saint-Nazaire in this ceremonial planting during his visit, symbolising the roots and continued growth of the friendship between our two communities.

"Over the last 65 years we have learned much from each other, and forged ever closer cultural, economic and educational ties.  The role of our children and young people in our international engagement is key as Sunderland and Saint Nazaire celebrate, and continue to strengthen, our friendship and partnership over the months and years to come."

The Mayor of Saint-Nazaire, David Samzun, added: "We have received such a warm welcome in Sunderland. We are so grateful for that, and for the programme of visits and meetings which has been prepared for us.

"It is my first time in Sunderland, but I am certain that it will not be my last. We have been really struck by the many similarities between Sunderland and Saint-Nazaire

"It has been wonderful to meet some of the people in Sunderland who are involved in partnerships with Saint-Nazaire - children, young people, the Council, college and university colleagues as well as private sector partners.”


Polytech Nantes is a department of the University of Nantes and a member of the Polytech group which is a network of 14 graduate engineering schools within France's leading science universities. The University of Saint-Nazaire is a college of the University of Nantes, the second largest university in France with approximately 35,000 students, including nearly 5,000 on the university campus of Saint-Nazaire.


The summer exchange offers organisations in the Sunderland area three months of work and support from a high-flying recent engineering graduate, now studying for Masters qualification, and gives each student a high-quality work placement, providing them with experience in the kind of industries they will be seeking to enter after graduation as well as the chance to live and work in the UK, to experience different culture and improve their foreign language skills.

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