Postgraduate research opportunities In-Process Inspection of Nuclear Components (Enhanced Yearly Stipend)


Key facts

  • Opens: Wednesday 18 January 2023
  • Deadline: Saturday 30 September 2023
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 42 months
  • Funding: International fee, Home fee, Equipment costs, Travel costs, Stipend


This is an exciting 42-month fully-funded PhD focusing on the automated inspection of nuclear canisters at manufacture using novel sensor and inspection strategies, directly aligned to current and future Nuclear requirements.
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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 also be desirable.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Traditionally the inspection of welds at manufacture is highly challenging, time-consuming and expensive due to the complexities and logistics of the environment and process. This proposal seeks to investigate the potential for automated inspection at the point of manufacture of future nuclear assets.

Traditionally, welding and inspection of high-integrity joints are separate, sequential, often manual processes in manufacturing and repair. Ultimately, these limitations reduce productivity, throughput, schedule certainty and increase rework if defects are detected at weld completion. As welding is a dynamic volumetric process, fusing joints of depth and width, this project seeks to exploit the volumetric imaging capability of ultrasonics, and introduce this inspection modality directly into the welding process control loop. By investigating robotic in-process ultrasonic inspection and control, this project aims to deliver high-integrity welds right, first time, every time and overcome current technical and process limitations.

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 student will be based in the newly opened £2.1M Sensor Enabled Automation & Control Hub (SEARCH) Laboratory, working alongside a research team of over 35 researchers and PhD Students, while also having access to state of the art sensor, robotic and welding equipment. 

The student will undertake specific industrial technical training courses (Ultrasonics, Welding and KUKA Advanced Robotic Programming) along with the University Research Development Program (RDP) to deliver training and development on traditional PhD activities such as presentations, conferences and journal writing. 

The student will work in collaboration with the lead industry partner to gain a greater appreciation of the specific industrial challenges and opportunity for automated inspection during fusion welding.

This project promises to be an exciting, fun and industrially relevant project, working alongside skilled engineers and scientists with state-of-the-art robotic equipment to delivery meaningful industrial change. 

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Funding details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees (Home, EPSRC Criteria).

The student will receive an additional £5,000 per year stipend-top on top of the standard EPSRC (£15,609) stipend, while also having access to substantial international travel and project funds

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The primary supervisor will be Prof. Charles MacLeod, Professor in Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE), within the Institute for Sensors, Signals and Communications. Prof. 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, Co-Director of the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE).

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Applicants should submit their CV, academic transcript, and a covering letter outlining their suitability for the position through email to Dr. Charles MacLeod.

Number of places: 1

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Contact us

Candidates requiring more information or interested in applying should email Dr. Charles MacLeod.