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Postgraduate research project

Interactive semi-automatic generation and assessment of design alternatives in engineering

Competition funded
View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

With this PhD you will have the rare opportunity to join two vibrant teams working at the cutting edge of design and design tool development: the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the University of Southampton and, as part of a secondment of at least six months, an engineering team at AIRBUS, Filton.

The passenger aircraft industry is heading into an era of rapid innovation, with environmental impact constraints demanding massive technological departures from the status quo. Working with engineers from AIRBUS, you will help develop new computational tools required to accomplish this leap towards decarbonising aviation.

The current generation of design tools was conceived to facilitate incremental improvements on systems with a largely frozen layout. Your PhD will focus on using the latest geometry modelling, machine learning and AI techniques to develop approaches that automate the exploration of large design spaces, thus enabling radical, new solutions. This is especially important in application areas where there is limited legacy design knowledge to rely on to steer optimisation processes, such as liquid Hydrogen (LH2) fuel systems and electric propulsion systems.

The underlying research questions have multiple facets and you will have some flexibility. You can choose a line of enquiry that best suits your interests, spanning geometry modelling, numerical optimization, AI algorithms, physics-based form finding techniques, and designer/computer interface development. Your supervisors will include researchers from both the University and AIRBUS.


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