Why you should consider the EngD route for your doctorate study…

The Industrial Doctorate Centre in Composites Manufacture (IDC) is pleased to announce that we are seeking high calibre candidates to take up one of five fully funded EngD studentships based at the National Composites Centre (NCC) – the UK’s leading mid-TRL innovation facility in composite materials.

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

Why an EngD?

Patrick Sullivan, an EngD student currently based at the NCC, says

“ The ethos of an EngD is to work in industry as if you are a full time employee, fully embedded in your organisation’s system’s and structures, but to work towards your long term research and academic goal as your thesis approaches. The industry focus is beneficial for steering your research in a meaningful way, allowing greater impact and dissemination of your work. 

The appeal of an EngD is that you stay in the academic loop where innovation rules with the freedom to pursue research topics and work with world leading academics. But you are also driven by the focus of your industrial sponsor and their need to see the impact of the research on live projects. ”

As a successful applicant, you will be based at the National Composites Centre (NCC) and will work on novel, yet industrially focused, cutting-edge research, whilst following a taught programme at University of Bristol. The projects will cover a wide range of NCC’s strategic areas with a focus on using digital manufacturing with composite materials to solve urgent issues towards sustainability.

Financially it makes sense too.

Successful applicants will receive an enhanced tax-free stipend of £23,730 a year, a fee waiver and a generous allowance to support training.


Why the EngD works for industry.

The NCC has supported the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) in Composites Manufacture for many years. Matt Scott, Chief Engineer for Capability at NCC, says

“ We find that our deep partnership with the IDC allows us to solve two pressing needs. Firstly, it gives us a mechanism to set motivated and tenacious minds on solving some of the research challenges that a commercial context by itself may not easily allow for. Secondly, it allows us to train the leaders of tomorrow towards an exciting and fulfilling career in the composites sector and beyond. ”

The topics you could be working on.

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 in areas such as:

  • Low-carbon concrete.
  • Through-Life Damage and Environmental Assessment.
  • Recycled Fibre/Matrix Interfacial Properties
  • Composite Shielding against Directed Energy Weapons
  • High-Rate Automated Deposition of CFRP for rapid production of aircraft wings.
  • Advanced Tooling for Aerospace Composites
  • Large Scale Rapid Infusion of wings.
  • In-Process Material Inspection and Verification of Aerospace Parts.
  • Digital Passport for Re-Using Aerospace Manufacturing Waste.

For more information about the topics you could be exploring visit our website here.

Professor Janice Barton, Director of the IDC, says;

“ If you are interested in studying for a doctorate at University of Bristol, being involved in the activities of Bristol Composites Institute and have a passion to explore sustainable composites solutions to address NetZero challenges then please consider applying to be part of our inclusive and dynamic programme in Composites Engineering. ”

What you need to bring.

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of 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.

Due to visa restrictions these posts are available to Home/EU (UK settled status) with permanent UK residency.

To apply complete this online form and send your CV and transcript of results to Helen.Howard@bristol.ac.uk

If you have any further questions about our programme, or if you would like to have an informal chat with Professor Barton or a current EngD student, please do get in touch by e-mail.

Helen Howard, IDC Manager Helen.Howard@bristol.ac.uk

Working with Airbus in Composite Manufacturing R&T

We interviewed Bristol Composites Institute PhD student Michael O’Leary about his PhD project and the mutual benefits of working with Airbus on a cutting-edge research project.

How did you end up studying at the Bristol Composites Institute?

man looking at the camera smiling
Michael O’Leary

On leaving school, I realised I wanted to pursue a degree in Engineering, eventually specialising in Aeronautical Engineering and graduating with my bachelors from the University of Limerick. I had my final year project examined by Professor Paul Weaver, who recommended applying to the Bristol Composites Institute for PhD.

I decided that the Centre for Doctoral Training would be a great fit for me as I had enjoyed the research aspect of my final year. The collaborative environment of the CDT, being surrounded by people with similar research interests and skills, was a great selling point for me.

What are you working on?

My project is focused on integrated structures with semi-cured elements.

For future wing structure, we are moving towards more highly integrated and larger structures. As we make these integrated structures, we start to encounter some of the manufacturing challenges associated with the scale, such as element alignment and complexity.

The objective of my project is to break the integrated structure back down into smaller pieces and use them semi-cured as a building block to bring them back together. For instance, the state of the art for current structures manufacturing is using a skin, bonded stringers, and bolted ribs. Why not semi-cure each individual part and integrate them all together for a final cure?

How do you manufacture integrated structures with semi-cured elements?

The manufacturing process is a two-step curing process. The initial step is to create the semi-cured elements with a pre-designated degree of curing, somewhere between uncured and fully cured, hence the name. After the curing process, the semi-cured element can be stored, trimmed, and inspected. If they are of acceptable quality, they can then be integrated.

What are some of the manufacturing challenges when using semi-cured elements?

The main manufacturing challenges that we are facing are about determining the degree of curing and scaling, especially for more complex geometries as there are tooling requirements that can complicate the process.

Regardless of specimen manufacturing method fibre bridging was witnessed during DCB testing
Double Cantilever Beam tests were carried out on initially semi-cured and normal, single step, fully cured laminates, with both sample sets displaying similar failure patterns, and failure loads.

What are the next steps for this work?

The next steps are to continue to determine the optimal degree of cure for semi-curing along with better understanding how semi-cured interfaces are forming. Outside of this, we will continue to prove the feasibility of semi-curing by starting to produce parts at a scale greater than coupon level.

How will the project results benefit the academic and industrial project partners?

Proving the feasibility of this work will provide the industry with an additional manufacturing tool that they can use when designing future structures. Hopefully, my work will lead to further questions which can be posed to incoming PhD candidates.

How has your cooperation with industrial partners supported the development of this project or your skills?

My primary industrial partner is Airbus. The industrial supervisors have been very helpful and supportive providing important technical knowledge and ideas which have made their way into my work. Having an industrial project gives a different perspective, it really helps me to see how my work can be applied in the real world.

Through this industrial project, I had the opportunity to interact with one of the world’s largest aerospace manufacturers. It has helped foster relationships which would not have been possible outside of this project.