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3-year PhD funding available in Cardiff : development of numerical methods for composite fracture

Development of Advanced Numerical Methods for the Virtual Testing of Composite Structures

Project description: Non-destructive testing of thin structures made of composite materials through acoustic emission is a promising technique which may, for example, be used to facilitate the maintenance of aircrafts and lead to a decrease in weight and carbon footprint.  The idea is to send acoustic waves into the composite and to observe the response. Changes in this response indicate a change of stiffness related to internal damage. However, identifying the precise nature of this damage, and whether this aircraft needs to be repaired or can continue flying, is much more challenging. We propose a radically new method to address this challenge, by making use of high-performance computing and advanced simulation tools. The idea is to provide information about potential damage patterns, by simulating its propagation during the life of the engineering product. The precise damage pattern will then be identified by matching the acoustic response of virtually damaged materials to the response of the real-life composite panel.

The successful candidate will work on this project within the Cardiff Engineering Computational Mechanics Group. We are looking for a talented candidate with the following skills:

-       A first or upper second class MSc (or equivalent) degree in Engineering, Applied Mathematics or Computational Sciences, with a specialisation in mechanics.

-       A strong background in numerical methods (e.g. finite elements, high-performance computing)

-       Proven programming skills (e.g. Matlab, C++, Python)

-       A driven, professional and self-dependent work attitude

-       Ability to produce high-quality scientific reports

This is an excellent opportunity to work in an internationally recognized research team and to develop cutting-edge methodologies to address an important engineering challenge. The project will be led in close collaboration with the experimental composite testing group in Cardiff University, with the composite modelling group from Swansea University, and with prominent figures of the FEniCS computing project ( 

The scholarship comprises a payment of fees, a tax-free stipend, training in advanced numerical methods and a study package (e.g. support for computing hardware and travel expenses).

Amount of Funding: The studentship will be for three years and cover fees at the Home/EU rate and a stipend equivalent to the RCUK rate of £13,863 (2014/15 rate)

Eligibility: The award is open to UK and EU students.  International Students are permitted to apply for studentships provided that they have funds to cover any shortfall in international fees.

Deadline for applications: 15/11/2014

Expected start date: 01/01/2015

Full job description: See Cardiff website

Contact for further information: Dr Pierre Kerfriden (Pierre.Kerfriden at

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