Future factories must be sustainable, agile and flexible in their operations to provide on-demand manufacturing capabilities, near the end consumer, enabling mass customization, adapting quickly with changing market needs and production technological developments. As a consequence and unlike traditional production systems which needed high volumes of identical units to be efficient, future factories need to be economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable with small batches but with high levels of product variation. Much of the future developments in factories will rely on cyber-physical systems, where computation, networking, and physical processes are intensely integrated. A key characteristic of such cyber-physical systems is the data feedback loops where the physical processes affect computations and vice versa, enabling much of their advantage over traditional fixed processes, static factory arrangements and set operational controls. This is branded as the fourth industrial revolution and is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value to global manufacturing [2020 World Economic Forum]. However tools to conceive, design, implement and operate such future factories are not available today. Current predictive modelling technologies can be used for the development, evaluation and optimisation of today’s fixed production facilities with traditional control mechanisms. However, predictive modelling technologies are without established strategies to represent the cyber-physical data loops expected in future processes. Nor are today’s modelling approaches conceived or capable of effectively representing the flexibility in factory operations envisaged for the future, with continuously evolving product details, processes and demand. Thus a new generation of predictive modelling methods and tools are required to enable the fourth industrial revolution. Academic Requirements: A minimum 2.1 honours degree or equivalent in Engineering (Electrical and Electronics, Mechanical, Aerospace, Manufacturing) or Computer Science/Software Engineering, or other relevant discipline.
The aim of this project is to develop, and demonstrate on realistic industrial production problems, predictive modelling strategies to design cyber-physical feedback loops in future processes and factories, and quantify their performance. The project will specifically focus on developing modelling capability to include advanced data acquisition in the production environment along with data and control strategies which regulate not only resource and material flow but also the configuration of the production system.
•Review available modelling technologies used for the design and optimisation of production processes and factories; review physical and cyber technologies envisaged for future production processes and factories.
•Based on the preceding review create a project hierarchical database of production design problems which characterise future factory visions, to include a series of varying complexity value chains.
•Using the available suite of modelling technologies undertake a series of systematic modelling studies, focused on the hierarchical database of problems, establishing and quantifying the key modelling challenges associated with the design and optimisation of cyber-physical manufacturing solutions.
•Formulate and develop modelling strategies to address the critical challenges associated with representing both physical and cyber data streams, and propose modelling architecture to enable data from physical monitoring and data from simulation predictions to be used as part of new manufacturing control strategies.
•Again using the hierarchical database establish and demonstrate the utility of the proposed modelling strategies, capturing the relationships between the new control strategies and the physical behaviour witnessed within the production environment, quantifying the benefits of any proposed modelling strategies by benchmarking against current state of the art, and the associated new data requirements and computational burden.
Write-up thesis and final journal papers
Mechanical Engineering overview
Doing a PhD in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is a highly rewarding experience. You will carry out your research in a friendly and supportive environment, supervised by academics who are leaders in their field, using well-equipped laboratories and research facilities, alongside students from all over the world. We have around 100 students enrolled on a PhD at a time. The School has a vibrant PhD student mentoring programme and a student led Research Culture Committee.
The School’s research is focused around six interconnected research themes: Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, Future Aircraft, Composite Materials and Structures, Simulation Technologies, Clean Energy and Biomaterials and Biomechanics.
PhD opportunities are available in a wide range of subjects aligned to the specific expertise of our PhD supervisors. Many are linked with leading companies and organisations.
Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in the research activities undertaken within the School. Students attend international conferences and participate in relevant external academic and industrial networks worldwide.
- The School has strong links with both local and international engineering employers, and has longstanding relationships with companies such as Airbus, Caterpillar, ExxonMobil, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren F1 and Rolls-Royce.
- PhD research contributes to major interdisciplinary centres in the University, including:
•Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE)
•Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC)
•Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC)
- The School has well equipped laboratories and great research facilities. PhD students share offices alongside postdoctoral staff. The School has Research Culture Committee to enhance the research environment of the School and support PhD students.
Employment after the Course
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in industry, industry or become entrepreneurs.
People teaching you
Dr Trevor Robinson
Doctoral Programme Director
Mech & Aerospace Engineering
You will carry out leading research under the guidance of your supervisory team. A full time student will normally complete in three years (up to a maximum of four), or part time over six years (up to a maximum of eight).
Research will usually be in one of the key, interlinked research themes in the School, and the subtopics they cover, include:-
Advanced Manufacturing and Processing - cost modelling, ergonomics, intelligent control, laser processing, life cycle analysis, material characterisation, mechatronics, parallel kinematic machines, polymer processing, robotics and ultra-precision manufacturing.
Future Aircraft - aero engines, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, aircraft operations, design and analysis, optimisation and structural testing
Composite Materials and Structures -damage mechanics and crashworthiness, material characterisation, multifunctional composites and nano-enhanced composites
Simulation Technologies - FEA/CFD/EFG/DES/MD, kinematic modelling, meshing, multiscale/Multiphysics, optimisation, simulation intent, systems modelling, uncertainty quantification, virtual testing and design visual analytics and big data
Clean Energy - biofuels, catalysis, life cycle assessment, power systems, turbomachinery and waste management
Biomaterials and Biomechanics - biomimetics, material characterisation, mechanobiology and medical devices.
Also, over the course of study, you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School, or other internal and external training courses organised through your supervisor.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component (*taken within the last 2 years) is required.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,500|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,500|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£4,500|
|EU Other 3||£22,000|
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.
Mechanical Engineering costs
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How do I fund my study?1.PhD Opportunities
Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes
We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.3.PhD loans
The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students, £10,000 for students in Scotland and up to £5,500 for Northern Ireland students.4.International Scholarships
Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.
Funding and Scholarships
The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.
How to Apply
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.