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The University of Southampton
Engineering

Our research strengths

We aim to be a centre of excellence for multi-disciplinary engineering simulation and design which combines together a range of analytical, computational and experimental techniques.  Our strength lies in this sophisticated mix of engineering methods coupled to industrial applications; a paticular focus for our activities over the next few years will be the development of grid-based problem-solving services for use by academica and industry.

The primary research interests of the group are in the three broad themed areas of:

This spans cost modelling, design optimisation, solid material modelling, computational fluid dynamics, computational electromagnetics, repetitive structures, contact mechanics, structural dynamics and computational methods.

 

Design search & optimisation

A major strength of the group is in the area of evolutionary and hybrid optimisation search methods applicable to mechanical and aerospace design with emphasis on robustness, knowledge extraction and efficient approximation methods.  Alongside this, sensitivity and design modification work is being carried out in the context of structural performance.  Theoretical and computational modelling is being carried out in the areas of thermodynamics, buckling, fatigue and erosion.  Projects include:

The group makes use of a large suite of search tools called OPTIONS which allows designers to access virtually every type of search method currently available.  This tool is in use at Airbus, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce via a range of industrial and commercial frameworks.

Many of the techniques developed for aerodynamic design are now being applied to biological flows, particularly blood flow in the human vasculature, in collaboration with clinicians from Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust and Oxford Radcliffe Infirmary.

 

Applied computational modelling

Continuum properties of repetitive structures are being studied and these methods extended to more complex geometries such as the honeycomb and other cellular material.  Failure mechanisms in composites are studied through boundary element modelling with specific projects on material characterization, laminate stability and polymer fracture.  The group is also examining the vibrational properties of carbon nanotubes and using its techniques to help in the signal analysis of astronomical data.  Novel generative costing models are being constructed for aerospace artefacts in collaboration with Airbus, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

New algorithms are being developed to allow the next generation of photonic, electro-optic and superconducting devices to be designed.  This work uses finite difference time domain, vector finite element and boundary element methods as well as Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations.  We are also working on significantly improving the performance of the simulations by reducing the time complexity of the algorithms, exploiting the methods in industrial applications, and integrating these analysis tools with advanced optimisation technologies developed by the group.

 

Computational methods

Research in this area includes development of new algorithms in the areas of particle simulation and eigenvalue estimation, along with computational techniques such as distributed computing, visualization, developing databases for engineering, and grid-based problem solving environments.  Work on multi-scale simulations combining discrete atomistic simulations with continuum methods is underway and new methodologies for multi-physics materials modelling are being developed.

This computational infrastructure underlies our ongoing research to provide grid-based seamless access to state-of-the-art optimisation and search tools, intelligent knowledge repositories, industrial strength analysis codes, and distributed computing and data resources.

 

Vortex simulation
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