The innovative study aims to address significant barriers in the design and manufacture of lightweight airframes 

Multi-million pound funding boost to develop virtual testing for next generation of lightweight aircraft structures

A groundbreaking new research project, designed to develop the next generation of lightweight aircraft structures, has received a multi-million pound funding boost.

The innovative study, which features mathematics experts from the University of Exeter, aims to address significant barriers in the design and manufacture of lightweight airframes.

The research - a collaboration including the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton, The Alan Turing Institute and industry partners – will help shape the future fuel and cost efficiency needs for the aerospace sector.

The project, called ‘Certification for Design: Reshaping the Testing Pyramid (CerTest)’, has now received a £6.9million program grant funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Tim Dodwell, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Applied Mathematics and Turing Fellow at the University of Exeter and part of the project said: “The programme grant is a really exciting opportunity to bring together world leading engineers, mathematicians and statisticians to tackle key academic challenges which underpin the aerospace sector, a pillar of the UK high-manufacturing sector.

“At Exeter, we will lead the development of new high performance mathematical methods to solve and validate high-fidelity simulations at the scale and industry require.  

“Our activities will see close collaboration between our researchers and the data centric engineering programme at The Alan Turing Institute led by Professor Mark Girolami, connections established through  Exeter’s strategic partnership with the Institute.“

Scientific advances in aerospace composite design and materials offer exciting engineering opportunities. However, manufacturers face huge challenges in making complex components quickly enough to remain commercially competitive. Currently, the aerospace industry uses an iterative ‘trial and improvement’ development cycle that costs millions. 

The programme seeks to reduce time, cost and risk to market through the use of validated simulation tools by integrating of high fidelity virtual testing and advanced data-rich experimentation of aero structure components.

The programme, which starts in late spring, will provide PhD/EngD graduates with unique and world-leading postgraduate training which straddles the interdisciplinary academics represented on this programme.

Professor Thomsen, Professor of structures and materials at the University of Southampton leading this programme added: “This funding is essential to enable continued growth of the UK aerospace industry and take economic benefits from the opportunities inherent in the move towards more sustainable aviation, as it fills a knowledge gap, where there is no equivalent capability in the UK or internationally.”

Date: 24 January 2019

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