Postgraduate research opportunities

Robust Aeroelasticity Tailoring for Highly Flexible Aerostructures Using Composite Materials

The project aims to develop a robust optimization tool for aeroelasticity tailoring of flexible aerospace structures using advanced composite materials. Novel methods will be developed to address increasingly modelling challenges arising from structural uncertainties and nonlinearities in the aeroelastic analysis.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


1 February 2021


1 June 2021


42 months


We are looking for a highly motivated student to undertake this exciting research in aerospace engineering. Applicants should have a first or upper second degree in Mechanical/Aerospace engineering, and have a good knowledge in aerospace structures, vibrations, and aerodynamics. The student should be very interested in numerical modelling and programming. Relevant project experience related to software development, structural analysis and aerodynamic simulations would be desirable.


Project Details


Composite materials are regarded as the key enablers for aerospace systems to meet lower carbon emissions targets through enhanced propulsion efficiency and improved in-service durability. They not only have superior specific stiffness and strength over the traditional alloys, but also offer more flexibility for engineers to tailor desired mechanical performance of aerospace structures through various layout of composite materials. One of its important applications is related to aeroelastic tailoring that involves designing the wing stiffness, mass, and aerodynamic properties to improve the static and dynamic behaviours of the flexible wing in different air flows. It can be potentially achieved by using composite materials with significant benefits including manoeuvre or dynamic gust loads alleviation, increasing flutter velocities, or enhancing the aileron control effectiveness. It therefore can effectively expand safety margin for existing aircraft designs and design space for more fuel efficient aircraft configurations.

 However, it is still very challenging to perform such an aeroelasticity analysis and tailoring due to complicated uncertainties and nonlinearities involved in composite structures. Composite materials-based aerospace systems usually require complex manufacturing processes. Scatter in mechanical properties (stiffness and strength) inevitably arise from fiber misalignment (in-plane waviness and out-of-plane wrinkling), porosities, and the presence of gaps and overlaps. The effects of such uncertain variations in material properties on mechanical behaviour need to be understood. The other main challenge is to deal with geometrical nonlinearities caused by the large deformation from this flexible structure, which would make the dynamic response unpredictable, and even destabilise the system. It is therefore essential to quantify these nonlinear effects on aeroelastic behaviour of flexible composite structures. However, the state-of-the-art tool for aeroelastic analysis and tailoring is still based on a linear and determinate approach, which could lead to an inaccurate prediction and design of critical aerospace systems. 

 Aims and Objectives:

To overcome above challenges, the aim of this project is to develop a robust optimisation tool for aeroelasticity analysis and tailoring of flexible aerospace structures using advanced composite materials. New methods and algorithms will be developed to include more complicated physics (nonlinearities and uncertainties) into the analysis and improve the computational efficiency.

 The main objectives of this projects are:

(1)   To develop low and high fidelity aeroelasticity analysis tools

(2)   To include capabilities to perform aeroelasticity tailoring using composite materials 

(3)   To quantify the effects of uncertainties in composite materials on aeroelasticity performance

(4)   To assess the effects of geometrically nonlinearities on aeroelasticity behaviour

The project is expected to collaborate with a leading wing design company based in Bristol, Imperial College London and Bristol Composite Institute. A placement/internship in the company or academic partners will be arranged for research collaboration.

Start Date: 1 October 2021 (or to be determined)



Funding Details

The project is funded by by the University of Strathclyde's Research Excellence scholarship, and covers Home tuition fees  together with a monthly stipend (currently £15285 total for academic year 2020/21, and subject to increase), for the full 3.5 years, of research study.

EU applicants are welcome to apply, as they may be eligible for Home fees.







The primary supervisor will be Dr Jie Yuan who is currently a Lecturer in Aerospace Centre of Excellence, with expertise in nonlinear structural dynamics and aircraft design, and second supervisor,  will be Dr Liu Yang (Senior Lecturer in Composite Materials) .

Dr Marco Fossati (Senior Lecturer in Aerodynamics) will also be involved in the supervision, of the project.

Further information

Please note the start date for this project is 1 October 2021.  However, an earlier start date may be possible, following discussion, with Dr Jie Yuan

How to apply

To be considered, please forward a covering statement, CV, and two references to Dr Jie Yuan