THE Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is rationalising its support for engineering and could save around Pounds 1 million.
The council has nine engineering research programme areas. But from early January these will be streamlined into just three: general engineering, engineering for manufacture, and engineering for infrastructure and environment. It is understood that all savings from the changes will be ploughed back into research programmes.
David Clarke, the council's engineering and science director said the changes will help avoid confusion at the boundaries of various programme areas, and allow the council to match its support for engineering research with the objectives of the 1993 science White Paper. The new general engineering programme will cater for every application for research funding for all areas of engineering.
Engineering for manufacture will cover projects undertaken in collaboration with industry and will also absorb special university-industry schemes, including LINK, the Teaching Company Scheme and Innovative Manufacturing Initiative.
The council's commitment to improving "quality of life" is to be met by the infrastructure and environment programme which will cover research dealing with, for example, air and water pollution, medical applications and sustainable cities.
Dr Clarke said the move has wide support in the engineering community. But one body critical of the changes is the Institution of Chemical Engineers. The IChemE supports the need to reorganise engineering support at the council into a smaller number of areas but Trevor Evans, general secretary and chief executive of IChemE said the changes might lead to a separation of engineering from science, which would be damaging.
But Dr Clarke is unconcerned about the wide-ranging knowledge each of the three managers will need to have: "We only employ intelligent people at the EPSRC," he said.