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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

Mr Charles B. Burson-Thomas MEng, PGCE

Postgraduate Researcher

Mr Charles B. Burson-Thomas's photo

Charles Burson-Thomas is a postgraduate researcher within Engineering and the Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Theory and experiment, they belong together; the one without the other remains unfruitful. We are fully justified in applying Kant’s well-known words on the unity of concept and intuition and saying: theories without experiments are empty, experiments without theory are blind -Max Plank, 1937.

Charles graduated with a 1st Class degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Nottingham in 2008. After a year working as a Graduate Engineer at Bombardier Transportation, he embarked on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Following this, he worked in a number of schools in Kent, teaching: Physics, Mathematics, Design and Technology, and Applied Science. He has also held two positions of leadership, firstly Head of Physics and latterly Head of Sailing.

After teaching for just over five years, Charles found himself missing the closer connection with engineering he previously enjoyed. The opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of engineering science, via conducting research, was a highly attractive proposition. In January 2016 he started his PhD in the national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS), under the supervision of Prof Robert Wood and Dr Terry Harvey. His focus is the fundamental physics of high-speed water droplet impact on aeroengine fan blades, where he plans to use a mixture of theory and experiment to investigate the phenomenon.

Research interests

Tribology, Erosion, Dynamic Impact, Solid Mechanics, Fan Blades

PhD research: “An investigation into the effects of high-speed water droplet impingement on aeroengine fan blades”

Supervisors: Prof Robert J.K. Wood and Dr Terry J. Harvey

Sponsor: EPSRC

When water droplets in the atmosphere impact the rotating fan blades at the front of large civil aeroengines, material damage and removal can occur (Water Droplet Erosion). The droplets can have impact velocities as high as 900 mph. The surface roughening of the fan blades, which occurs as a consequence, can lead to a decrease in aeroengine performance and also increase the risk of undesirable vibrations. This PhD is a fundamental investigation of the mechanisms by which Water Droplet Erosion (WDE) occurs on the fan blades, involving both theory and experiment. We hope to relate the previous research into WDE to the unique geometry presented by aeroengine fan blades. Ultimately, this will allow engineers to better understand how the erosion could be slowed or even prevented altogether.

Research project(s)

Anatomically Precise Revolutionary Implant for bone Conserving Osteoarthritis Treatment (APRICOT)

The APRICOT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 863183.

Demonstrator on the following modules:

  • MATH1054 - Mathematics for Engineering and the Environment
  • FEEG2005 - Materials and Structures

Co-author and trainer for faculty course, specifically for PhD students, entitled “Getting Started With LaTeX”.

Mr Charles B. Burson-Thomas
Engineering, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

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