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PhD Robotic Inspection for aerospace applications

This is an exciting 36-month fully-funded PhD, supported by GKN Aerospace, focusing on advanced ultrasonic inspection for composite materials.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend, Equipment costs


27 February 2018


30 June 2018


3 years


To be considered for the project, candidates must:
  • Possess at least an Upper second (2.1) UK BEng Honours (or EU equivalent) or MEng degree in a relevant engineering (Electrical, Mechanical etc.) or physics related subject
  • Be a UK or eligible EU national and adhere to Research Council (RCUK) eligibility criteria
Candidates with a preference for practical industry focussed experimental research would also be desirable.

Eligibility for RCUK studentships

  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details

The Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE) is looking to recruit a full time PhD student to work with the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering on an ongoing project with GKN Aerospace. 

Increasingly, aerospace design is incorporating fibre reinforced composite materials to achieve higher fuel efficiency due to a reduction in aircraft weight. An important consideration in this process is ensuring the mechanical integrity of these composite structures both at the manufacturing stage and in service. The latest manufacturing technologies for composite material components demand new approaches in automated and robotic inspection and non-destructive testing (NDT) to qualify the integrity of the parts for aerospace applications. Ultrasonic testing is an important inspection technology that can provide measurement of manufacturing defects. The latest approaches employ sophisticated ultrasonic techniques that allow imaging of the internal structure of composites, including details of the ply structure.

A PhD student is required to support the ongoing project work and will have opportunity to develop skills in industrial phased array ultrasonics, sensor interfacing, robotics, signal processing and data visualisation.

The project will make extensive use of the Facility for Innovation and Research in Structural Testing and the student will have access to industry leading hardware and software including new automated robotic and ultrasonic testing equipment worth > £1.3 Million.

The student will work within an internationally renowned and growing team of diverse and multi-disciplinary researchers and engineers, physicists and mathematicians and will have the opportunity to work in collaboration and spend time on-site working with our industrial partner to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for ultrasonic inspection. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to attend and undertake a number of industry-leading inspection and software training courses, as well as attendance at international conferences. 

Funding Details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees (Home/EU applicants only), along with a competitive stipend, and equipment and travel funds for the duration of the project.

Contact us

How to apply

Candidates requiring more information or interested in applying should email Prof Tony Gachagan or Prof Gareth Pierce. Thereafter, they should submit their CV, academic transcript, and a covering letter outlining their suitability for the position, to Professor Gachagan.

Following review of the application submissions, selected candidates will be invited for interview.

The project can start immediately or on 1 October 2018 (depending on candidate availability)