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PhD Automated Defect-Free Fusion Welding - "Inspect while you weld".

A 42-month, full-time, fully-funded PhD, supported by EPSRC focusing on sensor enabled robotics and quality control inspection during welding operations, directly aligned and supported by Nuclear, Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Marine, Defence and High-Value Manufacturing companies.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend, Equipment costs


18 January 2018


31 August 2018


3.5 years


To be considered for the project, candidates must:

  • Possess, or be about to obtain, at least an Upper second (2.1) UK BEng Honours or MEng degree in a relevant engineering 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

Traditionally fusion welding of manufactured components and quality control inspection of such joints are distinctly separate processes in the supply chain, which ultimately limits productivity, throughput and increases re-work. The opportunity exists, through novel sensors, automation and control techniques to allow these practices to be combined directly at the point of manufacture for superior globally-efficient fabrication.

This proposal seeks to investigate the potential for real-time ultrasonic inspection of high-value industrial components predominately of substantial thickness and complex geometry. To achieve this overarching aim requires a fundamental step-change in ultrasonic sensor design and deployment for automation, investigating robotic delivery, part and transducer temperature limits, acoustic coupling, minimum defect sizing and therefore overall inspection accuracy.

The proposal is directly relevant to the many industrial sectors who readily encompass safety critical fusion welds at point of manufacture and asset modification/repair – (Nuclear, Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Marine, Defence & general High Value Manufacturing).  It also has cross-cutting applicability to arc-based metal “3D printing” additive manufacturing (Wire & Arc Additive Manufacture (WAAM)) which are seeing increasing industry uptake in large area/volume fabrications.

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, sensing and welding 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 industry partners to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for automated inspection during fusion welding. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to attend and undertake a number of industry-leading robotic, inspection and software training courses

Funding Details

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


The primary supervisor will be Dr. Charles MacLeod, Lecturer in Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE), within the Institute for Sensors, Signals and Communications of the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Dr. MacLeod’s research interests include automated robotic inspection of high-value components and assets. He leads the automated in-process welding inspection team consisting of multiple post-graduate researchers and students. 

The secondary supervisor will be Prof. Anthony Gachagan, Director of the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE)

Contact us

How to apply

Candidates requiring more information or interested in applying should email Dr. Charles MacLeod. Thereafter, they should submit their CV, academic transcript, and a covering letter outlining their suitability for the position, to him.

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

Application submission deadline is 31 August 2018.

The project will start on 1 October 2018.