Swansea University’s contribution to the technical delivery of ASTUTE 2020 will be based at the College of Engineering, where 94% of the research produced by engineering academic staff was classified as World-Leading or Internationally Excellent in the recent, independent 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) study. The research, development and innovation is carried out in collaboration with industrial partners ranging from SMEs to MNEs and across supply chains creating significant benefit for all partners and high economic impact.
A good example for this is in the field of computational engineering modelling. Over the last 40 years Swansea University has been at the forefront of international research pioneering the development of numerical techniques, such as the finite element method and associated computational procedures.
These have enabled the solution of many complex engineering problems, revolutionising the industrial engineering analysis practice from slow and expensive experimental testing to efficient and more cost effective computational modelling.
The College of Engineering’s research is driven by staff organised in world-class strategic technology centres, of which the following are supporting ASTUTE 2020 delivery:
- Zienkiewicz Centre for Computational Engineering (ZCCE)
- Materials Research Centre (MRC)
- Systems and Process Engineering Centre (SPEC)
The delivery of the research is facilitated by the College of Engineering’s recent move to the new Bay Campus near the M4, providing the ideal location for collaborating companies to visit and to collaboratively work in state-of-the-art facilities that have now been installed with the aim to drive manufacturing research and development.
Swansea will be contributing to all three expertise areas to support collaborative research with industry on specific topics.
- Advanced Materials Technology
- Computational Engineering Modelling
- Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Computational Engineering Modelling
Swansea University has an international reputation for the development of Computational Engineering Modelling. The Finite Element Method was developed at Swansea by Professor Olgierd Zienkiewicz in the 1960s, radically extending its applicability and usability, and it has now been adopted worldwide as a key engineering analysis tool which has been incorporated into a range of standard software packages.
The Zienkiewicz Centre for Computational Engineering is acknowledged internationally as the leading UK centre for computational engineering research. The expertise available corresponds to the physical phenomena that occur during manufacturing. Among others these include:
- Modelling heat flow (e.g. appropriate to the hot forming of solid components and joining via welding etc.)
- Predicting the fluid flow of liquids and gases (relevant to e.g. the casting of liquid metal or injection moulding of plastics, blood flow, sediment transport), and for aerodynamics such as widely used in the aerospace and automotive industries.
- Understanding the structural mechanics of solid objects (e.g. relevant to the strength and durability of manufactured components).
- Exploring new manufacturing technologies and potential of manufacturing innovative products (e.g. relevant to exploiting the potential of newer manufacturing methods, such as Additive Manufacturing)
Research groups within the Zienkiewicz Centre for Computational Engineering (ZCCE) research centre include:
- Computational Aerospace Engineering and Structures
- Computational Biomedical Engineering and Rheology
- Computational Methods in Engineering
- Computational Energy and Environment
- Computational Nanostructures
- Computational Solids, Structures and Coupled Systems
- And the newly formed “Advanced Manufacturing” group
Advanced Materials Technology
Our computer modelling capabilities are complemented by a range of state of the art experimental equipment for research into materials. These include a range of high resolution electron and optical microscopes for researching the microstructure of materials, together with facilities for studying materials degradation via fatigue, corrosion, creep etc.
An example of a strategic area in which we are active is that of metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) which involves the production of components from a bed of fine alloy powder using a precision controlled laser. Parts can also be produced in engineering plastics.
Swansea is one of the UK’s leading centres for materials teaching and research. The internationally leading materials research conducted at Swansea is funded by prestigious organisations such as Rolls Royce, Airbus, The European Space Agency, and Tata Steel.
The Materials Research Centre incorporates the following internationally recognised research projects:
- Institute of Structural Materials (ISM)
- Corrosion & Functional Coatings
- Grain Boundary Engineering
- Environment and Sustainable Materials
- Materials Advanced Characterisation Centre (MACH1)
- Steel Technology
Research groups within the Materials Research Centre (MRC) include:
- Functional Coatings and Corrosion
- Institute of Structural Materials
- Advanced Materials Characterisation
Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Cross-smart specialisation work is also delivered via ‘Industrie 4.0’ or Smart Manufacturing concepts. It will cover digital manufacturing, robotics, collaborative robotics, simulation, 3D visualisation, analytics and various collaboration tools to create product and manufacturing process, big data, data mining, failure modes effect analysis, machine learning, human-machine interface and artificial intelligence. Additional expertise covers googleisation of data, data analytics, learning systems, control system technologies, mechatronics, signal processing and biomimetics.
The College has a newly equipped robotics laboratory with industrial robots and collaborative robots for facilitating fundamental and applied industrial research.
There are several additional R&D collaborations within Swansea University. Many of these aim to use expertise in the University sector across Wales for the benefit of the Welsh economy. Examples include:
- Smart Expertise research projects
- Knowledge Transfer Centres & Networks
- Innovate UK projects