Bristol Composites Institute makes two key appointments to enable new technology partnerships

The Bristol Composites Institute (BCI) at the University of Bristol has appointed two prominent sector leaders as Honorary Industrial Professors.

The BCI has appointed Faye Smith OBE, one of the UK’s foremost authorities on composite materials, and Mike Hinton, a World Fellow of the International Committee on Composite Materials.

Bristol Composites Institute’s new Honorary Industrial Professors Faye Smith OBE and Mike Hinton

Both appointees have provided significant support for the work of the industry-led Composites Leadership Forum (CLF) and contributed input to the 2016 Composites Strategy published by the CLF and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Commenting on the appointments, Professor Ole Thomsen, Co-Director of the BCI, said: “We continually seek new ways to encourage intellectual diversity and feel that these appointments will facilitate mutual learning and strengthen our ties to the national agenda.”

The BCI is a specialist research institute which launched in 2017. The Institute combines cutting edge fundamental and applied science with strong industrial links to deliver sustainable composites solutions for the benefit of society and the global community.

It is hoped the new Honorary Industrial Professors can strengthen the reach of the BCI’s research across different sectors, with a view to building new technology partnerships that can help solve some of engineering’s grand challenges.

Faye Smith OBE frequently engages with decision makers in academia, Government and industry, while Mike Hinton is a senior advisor to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supporting the development of its strategy, and an advisor to the government on technology needs and strategic opportunities.

They will provide wider benefits to the University through guest lectures for academic staff and students, as well as sharing their expertise with wider professional services teams via open talks on strategy development and technology road-mapping.

For more information about Bristol Composites Institute, please visit: Bristol Composites Institute | Bristol Composites Institute | University of Bristol.

CIMComp Hub Storytelling Workshop Review

by Umeir Khan

Creating a compelling and impactful story can be challenging. Fortunately, there are tools at hand to engage our audiences and craft a message that is pitch-perfect.

Following on from the success of prior workshops coordinated by the CIMComp Researcher’s Network, early April saw a fantastic turnout from current PhDs/EngD students for the “Storytelling for Engagement” activity, hosted at the University of Nottingham’s campus, and delivered by material scientist / professional storyteller – Dr Anna Ploszajski.

Many items of consideration were brought up: the type of audience you are presenting to, understanding their motivations and playing with the narrative hooks that drive the dramatic tension in a story. Unsurprisingly, a lot of parallels can be found in our favourite films, the ‘what if?’ that starts the journey for a protagonist to the ‘what if’ that sparks our own research.

Overall, it was a splendid event which helped demystify the route to effective research communication and impact. Highly recommended!

CerTest Independent Advisory Board and Industrial Steering Group Meeting, 17 April 2024 in Southampton

On April 17th 2024, the CerTest team met with the Independent Advisory Board (IAB) and the Industrial Steering Group (ISG) for a fantastic day of presenting the project’s research goals and achievements along with in-depth discussions about CerTest methodologies and next steps, including what comes after CerTest . Presentations and posters were made by CerTest researchers and PhD students covering the work going into each of the project’s four research challenges, as well as the interactions and joint activities.

The CerTest team presented a complete vision for the project, and for the first time a holistic depiction of what the CerTest methodology for performance validation and ultimately certification will encompass, and how it is different from the current building block approach. Essentially, a road map towards certification by analysis or digital certification was outlined. The presentations were very well received by the representatives from the IAB and ISG including cross sector industry stakeholder and the funder EPSRC. The day was topped off with an evening dinner reception that concluded a very enjoyable day for all.

A seated audience looking at a presentation screen A seated audience looking at a presentation screen

Mystery of moths’ warning sound production explained in new study

The workings of the ultrasonic warning sounds produced by the wings of a species of moth have been revealed by researchers at the University of Bristol.

Bristol Composites Institute (BCI) Academics Prof. Alberto Pirrera and Dr. Rainer Groh, along with Prof. Marc Holderied and Research Associate Dr. Hernaldo Mendoza Nava in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol have successfully had a paper published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (PNAS).

The scientists recently discovered that moths of the genus Yponomeuta (so-called ermine moths) have evolved a very special acoustic defence mechanism against their echolocating predators—bats.

Ermine moths produce ultrasonic clicking sounds twice per wingbeat cycle using a minute corrugated membrane in their hindwing. Strikingly, these moths lack hearing organs and are therefore not aware of their unique defence mechanism, nor do they have the capability to control it using muscular action.

In the study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an interdisciplinary team of engineers and biologists from Bristol show how individual ridges of a corrugated patch in the hindwings of ermine moths snap-through because of in-flight wing folding. The sudden snap-through of these features vibrates an adjacent membrane, significantly amplifying the strength and direction of the produced sound. Owing to its passive in-flight actuation, this sound-producing organ is known as an ‘aeroelastic tymbal’.

Marc Holderied, Professor of Sensory Biology at the School of Biological Sciences, explained: “Our goal in this research was to understand how the corrugations in these tymbals can buckle and snap through in a choreographed way to produce a chain of broadband clicks. With this study, we unfolded the biomechanics that triggers the buckling sequence and shed light on how the clicking sounds are emitted through tymbal resonance.”

 

The study’s first author, Hernaldo Mendoza Nava, who investigated the mechanics of the aeroelastic tymbal as a PhD student at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science of the Bristol Composites Institute (BCI), said: “Sound production and radiation is linked to mechanical vibration, for example in the skin of a drum or a loudspeaker.

“In ermine moths, the snap-through buckling events act like drumbeats at the edge of a tymbal drum, exciting a much larger portion of the wing to vibrate and radiate sound. As a result, these millimetre-sized tymbals can produce ultrasounds at the equivalent level of a lively human conversation.”

 

To uncover the mechanics of the aeroelastic tymbal, Hernando combined state-of-the-art techniques from biology and engineering mechanics. The biological characterisation of the wing’s morphology and material properties ultimately led to detailed computer simulations of the snap-through response and sound production that match recorded moth signals in frequency, structure, amplitude, and direction.

Rainer Groh, Senior Lecturer in Digital Engineering of Structures at the BCI added: “The integration of various methods across the sciences with a consistent information flow across discipline boundaries in the spirit of ‘team science’ is what made this study unique and a success. In addition, without the amazing modern capabilities inimaging, data analysis and computation, uncovering the mechanics of this complex biological phenomenon would not have been possible.”

 

The discovery will help researchers understand many other insect species with similar sound production mechanisms, filling a page of anti-bat acoustic defences in the book on the age-old arms race between echolocating bats and their insect prey.

Structural buckling and sound production are rarely studied together, despite being reciprocal phenomena. In addition, buckling occurs as a sudden large deformation which can be attractive as a shape-changing mechanism in the field of morphing structures, such as in the aerospace industry, where engineers are looking to optimise the aerodynamic performance of wings.

Alberto Pirrera, Professor of Nonlinear Structural Mechanics at the BCI, concluded: “In the realm of engineering design, nonlinear elastic responses, such as buckling and snap-through instabilities, have traditionally been perceived as failure modes to be avoided. In our research, we have been advocating a paradigm shift and have demonstrated that buckling events can be strategically leveraged to imbue structures with smart functionality or enhanced mass-efficiency. Yponomeuta’s aeroelastic tymbal embodies the concept of beneficial nonlinearity.

“The natural world, once again, serves as a source of inspiration.”

 

 

The research team anticipates that through bioinspiration, aeroelastic tymbals will encourage novel developments in the context of morphing structures, acoustic structural monitoring and soft robotics.

 

Paper:

Buckling-induced sound production in the aeroelastic tymbals of Yponomeuta (pnas.org) by Hernaldo Mendoza Nava, Marc Holderied, Alberto Pirrera and Rainer Groh in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

 

You can also list to episode  ‘This week in science: moths’ anti-bat signal, fish who count and GMO crops at home : NPR‘ published February 8 2024 on the NPR Podcast.

How can experienced professionals find research projects in their niche area?

Many experienced professionals can easily find research projects in their niche area, but young PDRAs and PhD students may not know how to find them. Research projects can offer opportunities for learning, networking, and career advancement. However, finding research projects that match one’s skills and interests can be challenging. For that reason, we will introduce some strategies and resources for finding research projects in your niche area.

  1. Identify your research interests and skills.

Identifying your research interests and skills involves introspection into your academic background, personal passions, and career objectives. Questions like, “What are the primary themes or issues that captivate me?” and “What gaps or challenges exist in my field of study?” can guide this reflection. Additionally, consider the skills or methods you enjoy using or learning, and ponder how you wish to contribute to the progress of knowledge or society.

To pinpoint your research interests and skills, explore diverse sources of information and inspiration. This may include perusing academic journals, books, or websites pertinent to your discipline. Seek input from current or past professors, colleagues, or peers who share your interests. Delve into online databases or platforms listing research opportunities or projects and explore professional associations or networks offering guidance for researchers.

To find meaningful projects, look for titles such as research assistant, research officer, or research specialist in relevant fields. Utilize keywords when searching on platforms like LinkedIn and ResearchGate to discover valuable opportunities.

  1. Explore existing research projects and opportunities.

One of the crucial skills for a researcher is the ability to investigate existing research projects and opportunities. This skill aids in discovering new collaborators, recognizing gaps in the literature, and identifying potential funding sources. Here are some suggestions on how to explore existing research projects and opportunities:

– Utilize online databases and platforms that aggregate research information, such as Google Scholar, ResearchGate, Scopus, and others. Conduct searches based on keywords, topics, authors, institutions, or citations to locate pertinent research papers, projects, and researchers.

– Attend conferences, workshops, seminars, and webinars aligned with your field of interest. Stay informed about the latest developments, trends, and challenges in your research area while networking with fellow researchers who share your interests. Additionally, consider presenting your own work to receive feedback from peers and experts.

– Join professional associations and societies that represent your research domain. Gain access to their publications, newsletters, events, and membership directories. Participate in committees, working groups, or special interest groups to contribute to their activities and initiatives.

– Initiate contact with potential mentors, advisors, or collaborators working on topics or methods that intrigue you. Reach out through email, social media connections, or request a meeting to inquire about their current or past projects, research goals and challenges, and seek advice.

– Explore your institution’s research resources and opportunities. Check your department’s website, bulletin board, newsletter, or email list for information on ongoing or upcoming research projects, events, grants, or awards. Engage with colleagues, supervisors, or administrators to learn more about their research interests and activities.

  1. Research out to potential collaborators and mentors

One of the key skills for a researcher involves reaching out to potential collaborators and mentors who can provide valuable feedback, guidance, and opportunities. However, many researchers face challenges in initiating and maintaining such professional relationships. Here are some effective tips for conducting research outreach:

– Clearly define your goals and interests before reaching out to anyone. Determine what you aim to achieve through collaboration or mentorship and what you can contribute in return. Whether it’s learning a new method, working on a specific project, or seeking career advice, consider how you can contribute to their research or objectives.

– Conduct thorough research on the individuals you intend to contact, including their background, publications, and current projects. Tailor your message to reflect your genuine interest and enthusiasm, and identify common connections, such as mutual colleagues, institutions, or interests, to establish rapport.

– Craft a concise and polite email for your initial contact. The first impression is crucial, so ensure your email is well-written, professional, and respectful. Briefly introduce yourself, explain the purpose of your contact, articulate what you hope to gain from the interaction, and inquire about their availability and preferred mode of communication. Be specific about your request yet remain flexible and considerate of their time and priorities. If relevant, attach your CV or portfolio, and provide a link to your website or profile.

– Follow up and maintain communication. If you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time frame, consider sending a gentle reminder or follow-up email after a week or two. However, avoid being overly persistent or pushy to prevent annoyance or pressure. If they agree to a conversation, prepare questions or topics for discussion, and be punctual, courteous, and attentive during the conversation. Express gratitude for their time and insights and follow up with a thank-you email afterwards. If they suggest any action items or next steps, promptly follow through and keep them informed of your progress.

 

For more information, feel free to contact the BCI internal newsletter team at uob-bci-internal-newsletter@bristol.ac.uk

Engineering Doctorates in Composite Materials, Sustainability and Manufacture

 

 

 

 

Opportunity for doctoral studies at Bristol Composites Institute and National Composites Centre.

Type of award Engineering Doctorate

Department Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Research group BCI

Scholarship Details An enhanced stipend of £24,917 for 2024/25, a fee waiver and generous research financial support for the successful candidates.

Duration 4 years

Eligibility Home/EU (UK settled status) with permanent UK residency

Start Date Flexible from October 2024

The NCC has supported the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) in Composites Manufacture for many years. We are now seeking high calibre candidates to join our IDC and take up one of three new studentships. You will be based at the National Composites Centre (NCC) and will work on pre-commercial, yet industrially focused, cutting-edge research, whilst following a taught programme at University of Bristol.

We are seeking highly motivated and committed individuals with an eye on the future, who are interested in conducting stimulating and essential industrial research and have a passion for finding sustainable solutions.

We are offering two EngD projects that focus on ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). Interest in CMCs is gathering pace because of their lightweight properties and ability to withstand extreme temperatures applications such as fusion energy, hypersonic flight and space vehicles. There are many challenges in producing components from these materials, so the two projects seek to develop new and exciting manufacturing procedures for the future:

Automated fibre deposition (AFP) of non-oxide CMCs

  • State of the art research on investigating automation manufacturing with CMCs using AFP technology to minimise costs and create more consistent materials.
  • NCC have previously demonstrated AFP deposition of oxide CMCs, but non-oxide CMCs significant technical challenges.
  • The EngD project will focus on formulating and testing a new non-oxide material that will be a UK first to be used in an AFP process.
  • The non-oxide material will be capable of operating at temperatures of around 3000 oC.
  • The outcome will be new manufacturing procedure that will have wide ranging impact in industry.
  • As the successful candidate, your interest in materials science and automation will unlock doors to next-generation applications in renewable energy and beyond.

Compression Moulding of CMCs

  • Compression moulding is a cost-effective manufacturing method which can produce complex shapes not achievable with other manufacturing processes.
  • The EngD project will investigate new approaches to compression moulding to produce component that can withstand ultra-high temperatures.
  • The research will result in methodologies to produce components that can go above temperatures that are achievable with current metallic materials.
  • The outcome will be a new manufacturing process to rapidly produce CMC components.
  • As the successful candidate, you will have an appetite for how hands-on materials research can expose new opportunities for UK industry.

We are also offering an EngD project that will provide a means to decarbonise future aviation:

Cryogenic composites for hydrogen storage

  • Hydrogen must be stored as a liquid to achieve the energy density needed for many aircraft applications.
  • Composites have the advantage of being lightweight and strong for this use, but their application at low temperature is restricted.
  • The EngD project will focus on finding the most viable solution for composites in hydrogen storage.
  • The performance of different materials produced by a range of manufacturing processes will be investigated at low temperature.
  • Novel methods of material characterisation at low temperatures will be developed and exploited in storage vessel design.
  • As the successful candidate, your interest in brand new, developmental testing methods will be used as the basis for design and certification of the future hydrogen economy.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum a 2:1 MEng or merit at Masters level or equivalent in engineering, physics or chemistry. Applicants without a master’s qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of readiness to pursue a research degree and performance at interview.

To apply please complete and submit this online form and send your CV and transcript of results to caroline.perkins@bristol.ac.uk.

Closing date:  12th February 2024.

Real-time Quality Control in Automated Fibre Placement using Artificial Intelligence 

by Gabriel Burke, Duc H. Nguyen, Iryna Tretiak.

The growing demand for ever more cost and labour effective production of large, lightweight, and geometrically complex composite structures has led to the replacement of traditional manufacturing processes, such as hand lay-up and vacuum bagging, with automated processes such and Automated Fibre Placement (AFP). The AFP method uses robotic arms to deposit layers of carbon fibre reinforced composites (CFRP) onto bespoke moulds. This process can create complex shapes at high speed. However, manufacturing-induced defects are inevitable during AFP. This degrades the strength of the final parts and creates a major waste problem, with defective parts discarded in some cases. While automation of composite manufacturing processes has been successfully industrialised, inspection is still largely a manual process.

As we move towards Industry 4.0, it is possible to optimise inspection during the AFP manufacturing process. One option of improving inspection is to implement artificial intelligence.

Our research team at the Bristol Composites Institute (BCI) has successfully designed and implemented a system that performs real-time defect detection and classification during the AFP process, providing information on the location and type of defects in the tape almost instantly after it has occurred.

The developed system is built upon a convolutional neural network (CNN), which uses deep learning techniques to detect defects based on input data images. These images were generated using data collected from a Micro-Epsilon profilometry sensor attached to the AFP gantry. This system can correctly identify and differentiate between three defects (fold, twist, and pucker) and does so in real-time using a three-stage algorithm:

1. Live data collection and pre-processing;

2. A sampling and image optimisation algorithm to produce a moving window of input images for the CNN;

3. Defect detection/classification using the CNN.

Due to this modular design, it is possible to modify each stage to fit the needs of other AFP applications. For example, the CNN can be retrained to ‘look’ for other defects, or the sampler could be modified to collect images at a different frequency based on the scale of the part being manufactured.

This novel inspection technique provides great potential to improve efficiency and reduce waste in composites manufacturing.

 

Following the success of the initial proof-of-concept phase, the team is looking to upscale the current prototype to meet the speed and robustness requirements of operational systems in industry. 

BCI Alumni Q&A: Usman Sikander, KTP Associate, TRB Lightweight Structures

Why did you choose the Bristol Composites Institute for your studies?
I first learned about the Bristol Composites Institute during my master’s research in my home country by exploring various papers that discussed composite materials from various angles. My interest at the time was understanding the fibre/resin interfaces, particularly from a mechanical standpoint. Subsequently, I secured a fully funded PhD scholarship, bringing me to BCI, and the rest is history!

What research area did you specialise in whilst you were here?
I focused on customizing the surfaces of polymeric fibres using diverse plasma techniques. The research initiative concentrated on micro/nano-scale modifications to the fibre surfaces, investigating their influence on adhesion at both micro and macro levels, as well as their wetting characteristics with thermosetting matrices. The fibres employed in the study had inert surfaces, causing issues such as delamination, inadequate adhesion properties, and suboptimal wetting characteristics with thermoset matrices in the composite materials. The aim was to enhance the adhesion and wetting properties of these fibres.

 

After leaving the BCI where did you go?
I moved to Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire after graduating to take up the role of Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate. The role is a three-way collaboration between the University of Bristol, industrial partner and UK Research and Innovate (UKRI).

 

What are you currently working on and what do your future plans look like?
I am working on developing novel and bio-derived resin systems for various composite applications, specifically focusing on the e-mobility market. Sustainability is the key element in this development program encompassing the development of materials and methods with low environmental burden and the transfer of knowledge from academia to industry.

 

How did the BCI prepare you for work outside of academia?
The connections I made as a student at BCI were great. They taught me a lot about how research is done in collaboration with industry, especially since my PhD was co-funded by an industrial partner (DSM Dyneema®, now Avient). Working with a mix of scientists and engineers from different parts of the world helped me learn and improve my soft skills and technical abilities. It also gave me a chance to get better at communicating.

Alumni Q&A: Eric Eckstein, Structures Engineer, Blue Origin

Why did you choose the Bristol Composites Institute for your studies?
It was a confluence of a few factors.  My now-wife, then-girlfriend, Ariel, chose to pursue a higher degree at the Courtould Institute of Art in London.  Meanwhile, I had been fortunate enough to write and receive a grant to study thermally-actuated morphing structures from the European Office of Air Force Research and Development.  I could take myself and this grant to any European university, but it was the world-renown expertise of Drs. Weaver and Pirrera, and their warm invitation, that focused my attention on Bristol.   

I recall my first visit to the UK, on summer scouting holiday.  I borrowed Ariel’s old commuter bike from her East end flat and set off for Paddington, and not long after found myself cranking with all my might up the steep hills that led to the Queen’s building.  After a quick breather, and a warm welcome from Jo Brooks and Dr. Weaver, it was off to see the laboratory facilities.  I was impressed.  Never before, and never since, have I experienced a lab in which the researcher was so well equipped to conduct their work unhindered.  There was most everything one needed to fabricate, test, inspect, measure, and generally get into the right kind of trouble that breeds discovery.  Best of all, the kit was all shared, and no political manoeuvring and horse-trading was required to use some instrument that technically might have been owned by someone else’s professor.  (You folks don’t know how good you have it!)

Finally, it was Bristol, the wonderful city, that cemented my decision.  There will always be a place in my heart for the city that I called home for six wonderful years of a young American’s adventure abroad. 

What research area did you specialise in whilst you were here?
My research aimed to create composite structures which changed shape in response to temperature change.  But unlike the simple bimetal strips that make your meat thermometer dial spin around, I wanted to have these structures be inert to temperature change for some prescribed temperature change, and then suddenly snap into their new shape at a specified triggering temperature.  t’s a bit like trying to combine the classic bitmetal strip with a bistable snap-bracelet.  That nonlinearity was needed to make them useful for gas turbine cooling control and other passive control applications.  

It was easy to make something bistable, but much harder to get the plate or whatnot to pop into it’s new shape due to temperature change alone.  We cracked the problem by laminating parallel UD plies against a high-expansion metal like aluminium, and then curing the laminate to a pre-curved shape.  I’ll never forget the feeling of “we’ve done it!” when we heard the plate go “poing!” all on it’s own, as it snapped into it’s new shape as we heated it in the oven.  An entertaining activity was to take the warm plate from the oven, slip it under a hapless researcher’s desk, ideally seeking out a jumpy fellow deeply engrossed in work.  The plate would cool off and go “poing” again, to the delight of anyone observing the little prank. 

After leaving the BCI where did you go?
I was lucky enough to get my CV to Blue Origin, just as they were starting on the design of what would become their New Glenn orbital launch vehicle.  I was hired as a structural design engineer, and had a small hand in many of the composite and metallic structures on the 2nd stage and payload fairing.  As I tell my nieces and nephews when they ask what it is that I really do, “I draw pictures of rockets and then we go build them!” 

What are you currently working on and what do your future plans look like?
I’m currently on a great team working out the best structure and propellant tank architecture of a follow-on upgrade to the New Glenn launch system.  I’m also a new dad, and my biggest future plan is to have as much fun as I can making my kid’s life awesome.    

How did the BCI prepare you for work outside of academia?
Like any good PhD program, BCI, or DTC as it was called then, gave me great resources and great independence.  It was clear that the onus was on me, and me alone, to define what I wanted to do, and drive my own work forward.  I think if I had missed out on this formative experience, I might have never discovered some of the career-forming tricks that brought me to where I am.  My favourite:  Focus your best efforts on what you’re most passionate about, and eventually you’ll find people who pay you for it. Also known as, “The harder you try, the luckier you get.” 

Alumni Q&A: Callum Branfoot, Research Engineer, NCC

Why did you choose the Bristol Composites Institute for your studies?
I chose to study at BCI for a number of reasons. When I was reaching the end of my MSci degree I was really unsure of what I wanted to do but I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD, that led to me having a scattershot approach in applying to various CDTs including one within the School of Chemistry (where I did my undergrad degree) and one across the road, what was then called the ACCIS CDT. What decided it for me was the desire to work in a more applied area than the highly academic chemistry I was used to, and if I am being completely honest… the reverse psychology Paul Weaver (the then head of the CDT) used on me in my interview— “We’re going to make you an offer, but I don’t think you’re going to accept it”—master tactics from the former used car salesman. 

What research area did you specialise in whilst you were here?
I continued to work in the synthetic chemistry building through large parts of my PhD, trying to make new molecules to build vitrimers and covalent adaptable networks (CANs)—in short, functional (healable/recyclable) composite materials. 

 After leaving the BCI where did you go?
After finishing my PhD, I did a year and half post-doc-ing in the RR UTC with Ian Hamerton as my line manager. Then after 9.5 years of working at UoB I decided to move on… and work for a UoB subsidiary, the BCI finishing school that is the NCC. 

What are you currently working on and what do your future plans look like?
I now work within the Materials Science team at the NCC, working largely on sustainability projects e.g. wind blade recycling, hydrogen tank recycling, sustainable manufacturing consumables, biomaterials, and various other bits and pieces! 

How did the BCI prepare you for work outside of academia?
Unsurprisingly given my current place of work, the BCI was the perfect foundation for the composite materials research I am doing now. By working between the School of Chemistry and BCI, I got plenty of exposure to various ways of working. Plenty of practice in presenting, report writing, self management etc. Importantly, the exposure to various courses and people of various cultures in the BCI helped strengthen the soft skills that are more acutely important in industry.