Postgraduate research opportunities

Integrated Systems Design of Composite Casings for Power Electronic Converters for Aircraft Applications.

A 42-month full-time, fully-funded PhD, supported by EPSRC and Rolls-Royce, focusing on integrated design of power electronic converters with carbon fibre composite cases, for light-weighting of electrical power systems on aircraft, directly supporting reduced green-house gas emissions from aircraft.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


1 February 2021


5 March 2021


42 months


To be considered for the project, candidates must:

  • Possess an undergraduate MEng or postgraduate MSc degree in Electrical Engineering, Physics or Mathematics. Exceptional candidates with a BSc/BEng qualification (1st or 2:1) may also be considered.
  • Have a strong understanding of electrical power systems and power electronics, including an appreciation of thermal management, grounding, electromagnetic shielding and filtering.
  • Have good understanding, skills and experience of engineering system modelling and simulation and practical laboratory skills
  • Be a Home (Scottish) or rest of UK student and adhere to Research Council (RCUK) eligibility criteria.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the project, it is desirable for candidates to:

Demonstrate academic study and interest in relevant non-electrical engineering topics, such as Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering.

UKRI Studentship Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for UKRI funding has changed for studentships commencing in the 2021/22 academic year. Now, all home and international students are eligible to apply for UKRI funding which will cover the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). Under the new criteria, UKRI have stipulated a maximum percentage of international students that can be recruited each year against individual training grants. This will be managed at the institutional level for all EPSRC DTP and ICASE grants. For EPSRC CDT grants, this will be managed by the individual CDT administrative/management team. For ESRC and AHRC studentships the final funding decision will be made by the respective grant holder.


To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


The residency requirements are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments. Normally to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).

If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. The international portion of the tuition fee cannot be funded by the UKRI grant and must be covered from other sources. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates.

Project Details

Applications are invited for a funded 3.5 year (42 month) PhD scholarship in aircraft electrical power systems. 


The successful candidate will work as a member of the established aero-electrical research team within the Institute for Energy and Environment, alongside a wider team of specialists in electrical power systems.  The research will be in close collaboration with an industrial partner, providing significant insight into the electrification of flight.


Electrification of aircraft is central to ambitious targets for reduction of aircraft fuel burn and associated emissions of greenhouse gasses, and the decarbonisation of air travel.  However, the significant upwards step change in the aircraft electrical system power system rating to the multi-megawatt range is a significant challenge, in particular to meet weight and volume performance requirements.  Integration of the electrical power system with the composite structure of the aircraft is identified as a pathway to light-weighting of the electrical system, directly supporting the development the electrification, and ultimately decarbonisation, of aircraft. 


Power electronic converters (PEC) are a key enabler for these electrical power systems.  The weight and efficiency of these devices are critical to the realisation of the further electrification of aircraft.  This PhD will seek to address this challenge by developing methods to lightweight and minimise the volume of a PEC in future aircraft by the integrated design of the PEC with CFRP cases, to form an integrated module, taking interdependencies (thermal, electrical grounding, electromagnetic) with the wider on-board electrical power system, and the harsh operating conditions, into account.  This harsh operation includes extreme temperatures, low pressure and high humidity, electromagnetic interference and bolted electrical faults. 


As part of the project, the successful candidate will also benefit from the training delivered as part of the University of Strathclyde’s Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Professional Development.

Funding Details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees for Home applicants, along with a stipend (starts at £15,009) and support with travel costs for the duration of the project.


The project is scheduled to start in October 2021.


Academic supervision will be led by Dr Catherine Jones, whose research focusses on the integration of electrical power systems with composite materials, and Dr Rafael Peña-Alzola, a power electronics expert. Further support will be provided by the internationally recognised aero-electrical systems research team led by Dr Norman and Professor Burt.


Further information:

How to apply

Candidates should email with reference “PhD-CFRP-REA1” in the subject line, attaching a detailed CV with contact information for two academic references, and a covering letter highlighting their suitability for the position, to Dr Catherine Jones (


The application deadline is Friday 5 March. 


The project is scheduled to start in October 2021.


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please email Dr Catherine Jones, quoting reference “PhD-composites” in the subject line.