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Professor awarded prestigious Spirit AeroSystems / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair

View of John Anderson Campus from the north

A University of Strathclyde engineer has been awarded a highly prestigious research chair to develop pioneering work into detecting and evaluating flaws in materials used in aerospace, which could help make air travel safer.

Professor Gareth Pierce has been awarded the Spirit AeroSystems/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair for his work to revolutionise Non Destructive Testing (NDT) for composites.

 The Chair is funded for five years and allows Professor Pierce to set up a world-leading research group.

His research aims to transform NDT in three key areas, including accelerating existing manual processes, whilst ensuring that manufacturing and product quality is maintained or even enhanced.

At present NDT is carried out on a finished part, with the manual inspection and data interpretation often taking days.

Professor Pierce is developing new sensors to allow earlier measurement in the manufacturing process, while machine learning and Artificial Intelligence will be used to interpret the scans.

Safe structures

He said: “The research chair with Spirit AeroSystems and Royal Academy of Engineering will allow me the freedom to explore this space with the exciting application of building high quality, safe new structures for flight. 

“I have been fascinated by engineering from an early age, with a keen interest to understand how human minds can influence and control the world around them to improve the quality of their lives and of others.

“Together we will work to revolutionise NDT approaches in aerospace manufacturing and help to ensure the safety and quality of the next generation of aerospace structures.”

 Professor Karen Holford FREng CBE FLSW, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University and Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, said: “The Royal Academy of Engineering’s support for UK engineering research and innovation helps to build a sustainable society and inclusive economy that works for everyone.

 “This is particularly important in collaboration with industry, and these funding schemes help UK companies benefit from the knowledge of expert engineering researchers and their university teams.”