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Bristol and National Institute of Aerospace to collaborate on advanced composite research and education

Dr James Ratcliffe, Associate Research Fellow at the NIA, and Professor Paul Weaver, ACCIS DTC Director

Dr James Ratcliffe, Associate Research Fellow at the NIA, and Professor Paul Weaver, ACCIS DTC Director

Press release issued: 29 October 2013

The University of Bristol and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in areas of advanced composite research and education.

The agreement, with the Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science Doctoral Training Centre (ACCIS DTC), builds on an existing relationship, developed through the ACCIS DTC’s well-established Researcher Exchange Programme, which by inviting worldwide experts to give seminars increases the students’ awareness of multidisciplinary research in the composites field.

The programme also gives students the chance to undertake international placements at leading research organisations to support the development of, and add value to, their PhD project.  ACCIS DTC student, Francesca Pernice, carried out a three-month placement at NASA Langley Research Center, a strategic partner of the NIA, earlier this year.

The new agreement will pave the way for further seminars and short courses at both institutions, exchanges of personnel, collaborative research and the sharing of information and knowledge.

Professor Paul Weaver, Director of the ACCIS DTC, said: “I am absolutely delighted at the prospect of strengthening our continuing relationship with the NIA. This agreement will provide our students with a unique opportunity to undertake collaborative research at a world-leading facility, such as NASA LaRC, and offer our students the chance to learn from, and be inspired, by cutting edge composites research carried out by an unrivalled research organisation.”

Dr Sivaram Arepalli, Vice President of Education and Outreach at the NIA, said: “We are looking forward to this collaborative relationship expanding into the next decade with student and researcher exchanges between the University of Bristol, NASA and NIA member Universities. It is anticipated that students will benefit from the world-class graduate education via courses and research in advanced composites.”

Further information

About the ACCIS Doctoral Training Centre

The utilisation of composites is growing at an unprecedented rate, as illustrated by the significant UK technological contribution to both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 with composite airframes, the need for rapid development of renewable energy (wind turbine blades) and the nascent interest in large scale production of automotive components by organisations such as BMW. Overall, industrial usage is within a period of exponential rise. Such exciting examples of new technologies require unprecedented interdisciplinary and multi-scale approaches.

The Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science Doctoral Training Centre (ACCIS DTC) was established in 2009 following a £7.1 million award from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Our vision is to develop the next generation of technical leaders in advanced composites by stimulating adventurous interdisciplinary research, which bridges the length scales, connects to and interfaces between the disciplines of engineering, chemistry, physics and life sciences, and bestows enhanced and added functionality to composite materials.

Ten fully-funded studentships per year are offered on our four-year multidisciplinary PhD programme in Advanced Composites. The programme comprises a one-year innovative taught component and a three-year research project, and is underpinned by a programme of skills training and professional development. Students are recruited from a variety of academic disciplines across engineering, science and mathematics.

We benefit from significant industrial support with current PhD projects being undertaken in collaboration with AgustaWestland, Airbus, dtstl, EOARD, GE Aviation, Haydale, Rolls-Royce and Vestas. We also collaborate with other academic institutions and research centres locally, nationally and internationally.

About National Institute of Aerospace

The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is a non-profit research and graduate education institute created to conduct leading-edge aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NIA serves as a strategic partner with NASA Langley Research Center and the aerospace community to enable research creativity and expand technology development opportunities. The Institute integrates research and graduate education while creating new government/academia/industry partnerships to solve tomorrow’s problems today.

The purpose of NIA is to:

  • Foster research collaboration among national laboratories, academia and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and creativity;
  • Provide comprehensive graduate and continuing education in science and engineering via local campus presence and distance learning technologies;
  • Incubate and stimulate the commercialization of new intellectual property developed through NIA’s research activities;
  • Promote aerospace science and engineering and provide outreach to the region and nation.
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