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PhD Inspection of Nuclear Assets using Robotically Deployed Techniques

A 42-month fully-funded PhD, supported by the Nuclear Decommission Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory focusing on the automated inspection of waste package dimensions and deformations through life, using novel optical sensor and inspection strategies, aligned to current and future nuclear requirements.

Number of places

1

Funding

Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend, Equipment costs

Opens

1 March 2018

Deadline

30 June 2018

Duration

3.5 years

Eligibility

To be considered for the project, candidates must:
  • Possess an Upper second (2.1) UK BEng Honours 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 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

Optical based metrology using Laser Range Finders (LRF) and Structured Light (SL) scanning are two measurement approaches that can be used to create 3D models of complex shaped components. When scanning large components, traditionally they are mounted on a rotating turntable to provide the necessary degrees of freedom for the multiple projections required to create a full 3D reconstruction. This high controlled technique benefits from repeatable and known pose information, significantly improving the reconstruction. However, this technique is non-optimal in in-situ inspection applications due to the requirement for movement of the component to a fixed measuring location and especially when considering nuclear assets due to the quantum and the current storage method.

This project proposal seeks to address the current limitations of remote dimensional inspection, by considering not only the sensing modality but also the deployment technique as a whole. Data fusion of both information from the optical sensor and the deployment platform pose estimation increases measurement accuracy, while an automated deployment strategy ensures significant repeatability to monitor deviations over time.

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. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to attend and undertake a number of industry-leading robotic, inspection and software training courses. The proposal is directly relevant to current and future Nuclear sector requirements and presents a great opportunity to become involved early in what is a very important and strategic area of focus, not only in the UK but worldwide. The PhD will consider the requirements of inspection of such canisters through-life and also at the point of manufacture.

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 along with the opportunity to work with the industrial partner and their collaborators through mock-up deployment rigs and trials.

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 the industry partner to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for automated inspection in their sector. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to attend and undertake a number of industry-leading inspection and software training courses.

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.

Supervisor

The primary supervisor will be Dr. Charles MacLeod, Lecturer in Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE), within the Institute for Sensors, Signals and Communications. 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. Gareth Pierce within 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 30 June 2018.

 The project will start on 1 October 2018.