With support from Central Government funds, EKC group is investing significant funds to develop engineering centres of excellence across three of its six community colleges. This investment includes 25 machines valued at around £500 000 from XYZ Machine Tools covering CNC machining and turning centres as well as an array of manual machines, which are located at Dover Technical College, Canterbury College and Ashford College, with the latter seeing a state-of-the art building being created to house all of the college’s engineering services. 

Students at Dover Technical College at the two new XYZ machines.

Speaking of the investment Dover Technical College Principal, Paul Owen, says:

“The project has been funded through the T Level development fund. Which at Dover means we have been able to develop three separate areas: A design and prototype room (including 3D printers); a CNC workshop containing an XYZ CT52LR turning centre and an XYZ 500LR machining centre; and a quality control room. What we have now at Dover is the ability to deliver T-Level Engineering skills with students able to undertake the whole process from design, through prototype and manufacturing. With the investment in the XYZ Machine Tools CNC machines students can undertake and experience industry-expected processes on state-of-the-art equipment, that aligns itself with industry standards while developing the skills needed for employment within the sector.”

Alexandra Syrotiuk and lecturer Andrew Livesey with two mature students at Ashford College.

With these two new machines installed at Dover Technical College the environment has moved on from basic manual machines to equipment in use by local businesses such as Stevens and Carlotti (https://xyzmachinetools.com/machine-shop-investment-provides-opportunity-for-growth-at-stevens-carlotti/), a long-standing customer of XYZ Machine  Tools. Initially, the machines will be used by T-Level students, but will be made available to all engineering students in the future. Commenting on the two XYZ machines, Engineering Lecturer Peter Halloway says: “Having these machines allows students to work on complex test pieces developed on AutoCAD, as well as real-life projects working with other departments and local businesses to produce actual components to deadlines.”

Peter Halloway with a typical student test piece.

Over at Ashford College the creation of the engineering centre of excellence is a longer-term project, with construction of the purpose-built engineering facility due for completion later this year.  That hasn’t prevented the first of 20 machines for Ashford being housed temporarily in the existing facility. Mirroring the machines at Dover the first machines to arrive were two XYZ CT52LR turning centres and two XYZ 500LR machining centres, these will be used by an array of students, with part of the college’s efforts being focused on encouraging more adults back into engineering.  Once the new building is complete these machines will be joined by eight XYZ 2000 manual mills and eight XYZ 1330 VS manual lathes.


“The Ashford area was once a powerhouse of engineering and with new investment in the rail and other sectors it is being regenerated, particularly with the growth in reshoring initiatives. We need to be in a position to provide the necessary skills that these businesses will need, and this investment will help us to achieve that.” says Ashford College Deputy Principal, Alexandra Syrotiuk. “Having these machine tools and the facility they will be housed in will also be of great importance in highlighting what engineering is and the numerous career pathways that it can provide. As we progress with this centre of excellence we hope to be able to work closely with local industry partners to develop the best training opportunities for students.”

The new CAD suite at Dover Technical College.

XYZ Machine Tools has a long history of working with the education sector through its XYZ for Education initiative, which provides special pricing on the full range of XYZ machine tools, with ongoing training programmes, that ensure college workshops are kept up to date with the latest industrial production processes. “We see it as vital to educate and inspire tomorrow’s engineers in order to maintain the UK’s position as a leader in engineering development and manufacturing,” says Nigel Atherton, Managing Director, XYZ Machine Tools.

Two further XYZ machines ready and waiting to be installed in their new home, once instructed by Ashford College.