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Southampton professor wins Rolls-Royce award for technical innovation

Published: 5 February 2009

A University of Southampton professor has won a Rolls-Royce award for Best Engineering and Technology Application for Technical Innovation 2008.

Professor Jim Scanlan and his research team won the award for the DATUM (Design Analysis Tool for Unit-cost Modelling) research project, which provides designers with accurate cost information at an early stage in the design process. Rolls-Royce has now successfully adopted this research for costing of new concept designs.

Using an object-oriented approach, DATUM creates libraries of component costs that can be used repeatedly and undertakes sophisticated statistical analysis to deal with uncertainties associated with the design and supply process. More importantly, the tool is capable of integrating with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools to allow rapid cost feedback to inform design decisions.

Professor Scanlan, from the University’s School of Engineering Sciences, comments: “The design of a new aero-engine can commit companies such as Rolls-Royce to expenditure measured in billions of pounds, which can expose them to considerable risk. The DATUM tool can give early insight into many of these risks to ensure they are minimised.

“The University has very close links with Rolls-Royce and is gaining an excellent reputation, not just for fundamental research, but also for being able to transfer research into direct applications for use by engineering companies such as Rolls-Royce.”

The School of Engineering Sciences scored highly on the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for its range and quality of research and staff work at the forefront of their disciplines. In total 20 of its staff were graded at the highest (4*) rating for ‘world-leading’ research and 60 at the next category (3*) of ‘internationally excellent’.

The University of Southampton achieved excellent results across the board, confirming its position as one of the UK’s top research universities. Engineering at Southampton as a whole features very strongly, with the University joining Imperial College and the University of Cambridge in a ‘golden triangle’ of engineering research excellence, as the top three institutions in the country for their range and quality of engineering.

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