Novel Layup Optimisation Methods in Design and Manufacture of Advanced Fibre-Reinforced Laminated Composites
Fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite laminates are rapidly replacing traditionally metallic structural components in various areas, especially in the aerospace industry where light-weighting is one of the most important design priorities. Advanced FRP composites, exhibiting the highest specific stiffness and strength among other materials, are ideal candidates to address such a grave need. This explains how the latest commercial and military aircraft involves a high percentage of composite materials as part of their structural weight, and this has only been increasing consistently since the appearance of the first advanced FRP composites. Despite their outstanding design versatility, especially in terms of layup design, the principals of layup selection and configuration have barely changed since the 1960s, where quad-axial laminates made from strict combinations of four main ply angles, namely, 0, 90, +45, and -45, are still used extensively (even exclusively) in composite design. This approach is mostly based on the so-called “10 % rule”, often leading to overly conservative designs with relatively thick repeated units, or “sublaminates”. Suboptimal designs as such, not only underutilise the true potentials of carbon fibre composites, they make them costly and difficult to manufacture, and repair. The past few years have witnessed incredibly promising progress in the area of composite design, in particular laminate architecture where a number of advanced layup optimisation methods, tailored to specific applications have been introduced. In close collaboration with leading Aerospace OEMs including Spirit AeroSystems (Belfast) and Collins Aerospace UK, the supervisory team have already established the foundations of a new composite design methodology, based on the recent findings of Prof. Tsai’s team, who have kindly supported the projects, to facilitate material screening and preliminary structural analysis of the load-bearing composite components. The current focus of the team is on further developing the invariant based design concepts through manufacture and characterisation of the optimised layup designs.
The proposed project aims at employing a series of novel layup optimisation methods including invariant based approaches and the so-called “Double/Double” alternatives to provide the most optimum laminate configurations, based on the given structural requirements. The optimisations are applied to the existing traditional designs in consideration of specific loading scenarios, based on real-life Aerospace applications. Prototypes will then be manufactured and tested for experimental validation. This includes characterisation of a range of mechanical and damage properties.
The successful candidate will have the opportunity of being involved in technical meetings with Spirit AeroSystems, the industry partner of the project to discuss design ideas. This will be followed up by manufacturing and testing the optimised composite laminates in the factory premises.
Key skills required for the post:
Applicants should hold or expect to hold a 2.1 Hons (or equivalent) degree in a relevant discipline such as Mechanical and/or Aerospace, or Polymer Composite Engineering, or in a related field. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to shortlist for interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high academic attainment to date.
The candidate must have an enthusiastic attitude towards undertaking research in the field of the mechanics of composite materials and is willing to travel to both academic and industrial collaborators for placements, training courses and dissemination activities.
Key transferable skills that will be developed during the PhD:
These will include an ability to effectively communicate research outcomes to academic peers and industry, independent analytical thinking and problem solving, time management, and leadership.
UK nationals Only
£15,285 tax-free. PhD students in the School may have the opportunity to apply to be demonstrators on undergraduate modules. Compensation for this can amount to in excess of £2,400 per year.
Aerospace 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. At any time we have around 100 students enrolled on a PhD. 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 academic and industrial networks worldwide.
- The School has strategic partnerships with Rolls-Royce and Wrights supported by multiple large programmes (funders EPSRC, Innovate-UK, Advanced Propulsion Centre etc). There are opportunities for cutting edge, impactful PhDs within vibrant teams.
- The school also partners with a number of leading companies on a range of research challenges, including: Airbus, Artemis Technologies, Caterpillar, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover
- PhDs contribute to major centres, including: Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC), 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.
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,596|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,596|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£4,596|
|EU Other 3||£22,700|
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.
Aerospace 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.
Some research programmes incur an additional annual charge on top of the tuition fees, often referred to as a bench fee. Bench fees are charged when a programme (or a specific project) incurs extra costs such as those involved with specialist laboratory or field work. If you are required to pay bench fees they will be detailed on your offer letter. If you have any questions about Bench Fees these should be raised with your School at the application stage. Please note that, if you are being funded you will need to ensure your sponsor is aware of and has agreed to fund these additional costs before accepting your place.
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.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.