Engineering the future

A love for the East Midlands led a former resident to leave a gift in his Will to Nottingham, which will help the university’s ground-breaking advances in net zero technology, alongside upgrading key project lab equipment to improve the student experience.

Engineering students talking to each other.

Derek Wyles was born in Southeast London in 1928 before moving to Derby in the 1960s to work in the textile industry. It was a time of great innovation in the industry and Derek was at the forefront. After passing away in 2021, Derek left a gift in his Will to Nottingham, alongside Nottingham Trent University and the University of Derby. His niece Poppy Carter Mills wasn’t surprised to hear about this generous donation.

“Uncle Derek was a humble and charitable man who always gave more to others than he afforded for himself,” she told us. “Not only financially but also emotionally and supportively, and he did so with unwavering loyalty and always with a smile on his face and a kindness in his heart. A George Bernard Shaw quote that I mentioned in his tribute entirely sums him up – ‘a gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out’. Uncle Derek was indeed a true gentleman.”

After hearing about his gift, Poppy was extremely proud that her uncle’s memory would live on in the East Midlands. “I think that it is a truly wonderful thing that his generous gift will help future generations. Uncle Derek, as I do, truly believed in the value and importance of teaching, learning, research and innovation and it pleases me greatly to know that his gift will have had an impact on progress for the future.”

Derek’s generous gift will be part of funding for two ambitious projects in the Faculty of Engineering. The first is to invest in robotic manipulator equipment to build a demonstrator hairpin manufacturing line. Hairpin motors are increasingly used in electric vehicles. They are more efficient, have a higher power density and thermal performance, and are simpler to manufacture than previous types of electric motors. Developing such solutions at scale is key to transitioning sectors such as automotive and aerospace sectors towards net zero and the demonstrator hairpin winding manufacturing line will underpin Nottingham’s advances in this space.

Secondly, funds from the gift will be used to upgrade project lab equipment and give students the opportunity to work in a high spec environment with cutting edge technology relevant to both the lecture material and research projects.

“Uncle Derek would take a more modest view on being remembered by your university,” added Poppy, “but I feel very proud of him and, on behalf of him, honoured and delighted.”

Are you interested in leaving a Gift in your Will?

Leaving even 1% - after you have taken care of those closest to you – can make a life-changing difference to the next generation of Nottingham students. Find out more about how you can help.