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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

The School of Engineering at Durham is widely recognised as one of the leading general engineering departments in the UK, with a strong track record of world-class research across several areas of engineering. Engineering in Durham has been treated as a unified subject since the formation of the department; staff from all disciplines of engineering have consequently collaborated on both teaching and research. For research purposes, the School has a structure based on Groups and Research Centres. These consist of members whose interests span the traditional boundaries of specialist engineering subjects. Although research groups often involve interdisciplinary work within the School, Research Centres involve collaboration with other departments within the University. Our research policy is, therefore, to encourage research selectively, but to do so particularly in areas that benefit from a broader academic approach. Specifically we seek to continue steady sustainable growth subject to the preservation of standards of excellence.

Research in the School is monitored and managed by the Research Committee which reports directly to the Board of Studies. In addition to overall strategy and policy on research the Research Committee has responsibility for the allocation of research equipment funds, research studentships, the organisation of research seminars, Research Day and the monitoring of the progress of all research students.

The REDSS Office (Research and Economic Development Support Services) provides essential support for academic departments in meeting the University's objectives of increasing research income by 2007, having greater impact on the local economy and increasing the commercial exploitation of the University's knowlege and expertise. It brings together specialist teams working on research grant applications and contracts, science innovation and enterprise and regional economic regeneration. The University funding of the office has been enhanced by substantial awards from the Higher Education Reach Out to Business and the Community (HEROBC) and Science Enterprise Challenge (SEC) schemes.

Since the 1996 Research Assessment Exercise the School has created a sixth Research Centre in Automotive Research. The Research Centre for Electronic Systems proposed in 1996 has expanded as planned to a full time staff of 16 and annual turnover of over £1 million. The project known as ReCET (Regional Centre for Electronics Technology) has attracted over £3M of industrial research and development. This work is leading to new patents, publications and innovative products and services. The activities of the major groups and centres are described below:
1) Centre for Molecular and Nanoscale Electronics (CMNE) (Petty, Wood, Johnstone)

The Centre for Molecular and Nanoscale Electronics (Co-Directors Professor MC Petty and Professor MR Bryce (UoA 18) promotes research activities across traditional departmental boundaries. The main participating departments are Engineering, Chemistry and Physics and the work concerns the development and exploitation of novel organic materials in electronic and opto-electronic devices. Over the past five years, much of the Centre’s work within the School of Engineering has focused on activities relevant to the Foresight programme. For example, major research themes concern environmental sensors (eg for pollutant gases), light emitting displays, and novel nanostructured organic materials and devices. The Centre has been very successful in attracting national, European and industrial support. The Centre attracts a stream of international visitors (Israel, Russia, France, Italy, Canada, Turkey, Spain, Japan, Romania, Germany, and China) to use its facilities. As a result, formal collaboration agreements have recently been established between the School and the Polymer Institute in Dresden (supported by the British Council) and with the Institute of Chemical Physics in Chernogolovka, Russia (Royal Society).

2) Centre for Biomedical Engineering (CBE) (Unsworth, Green, Trevelyan)

The Centre for Biomedical Engineering (Director Professor A Unsworth) has an international reputation in the area of biotribology associated with artificial human joints. The research is strongly interdisciplinary and brings together engineers, orthopaedic and plastic surgeons, rheumatologists, physicists and materials scientists to develop new joints and to evaluate existing designs with a view to understanding the underlying scientific reasons for success and failure of these joints.
In addition to the strong links with several local and national hospitals the Centre works closely with industry. In particular long-standing research collaborations with DePuy-Johnson & Johnson, Stryker-Howmedica Osteonics, Biomet Merck, Morgan Matroc, Thermomicroscopes, Sulzer and Plint Ltd., all of whom fund research work within the Centre. A highly successful four-year project funded by DTI has recently been completed. This was a joint project with Leeds University and output from this work has been incorporated into the new ISO 14242 standard produced on testing of artificial joints.
The Centre has developed considerably since RAE96. In particular the Foresight exercise and a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering both identified biomaterials as an important area for future work and staffing in this area has been strengthened by appointing a new lecturer (Dr Sarah Green) who has expertise in biomaterials.
Dr Green is a member of the EPSRC funded UK Biomaterials Network and in collaboration with the University of Newcastle has established the Bone Biology and Bioengineering Research Group. This is a basic science research group integrating biology and bioengineering in order to develop and introduce surgical therapies for the treatment of musculoskeletal disease.
In the last few years a new measurement laboratory has been created as part of the Centre partly through JREI and partly through responsive mode EPSRC grants. This enables research staff and students to gain experience using the latest versions of such instruments as a low angle laser scattering particle size analyser, a scanning probe microscope system, low-load microhardness indenter and a white light inter-ferometric contactless profilometer.

3) Centre for Telecommunication Networks (CTN) (Mars, Swift, Baxendale)

This Centre (led by Professor Mars) has established an international reputation in the performance modelling of communication networks and the application of artificial intelligence techniques to network control. EPSRC funding over the review period has included a collaborative research programme (with Queen Mary and Westfield and Strathclyde University) on a Virtual Laboratory for Communication Networks. Industrial funding has included direct support from BT, Cable and Wireless, ECI Telematics and the Fujitsu’s European Microelectronics Device Design Centre. In particular four research contracts have been completed for Fujitsu. Significant funding was obtained from the HEFCE special equipment initiative and industry for an ATM test-bed. The 15th IEE Teletraffic Symposium was held in Durham during 1998. Strong International links have continued with the Centre for Systems Science at Yale University. The work of this Centre is directly relevant to the Foresight programme and in addition to Engineering involves collaboration with both the Departments of Mathematical Sciences and Psychology at Durham.

4) Centre for Industrial Automation and Manufacture (CIAM) (Appleton, Maropoulos, Carpenter, Purvis, Short)

The Centre for Industrial Automation and Manufacture (Co-Directors Professors Appleton and Maropoulos) promotes interdisciplinary research activities in a wide range of areas including manufacturing technology and systems, design and manufacturing integration and flexible robotic automation. During the past four years, the research and technology transfer activities of this centre have grown considerably with significant income from EPSRC, EU and Industry. The appointment of Dr Carpenter as a Lecturer in Manufacturing in 1997 and the promotion of Professor Maropoulos to a Chair in Engineering in 1998, were important events signifying the growth of activities of the manufacturing group.
Research by Professor Appleton into robotics for the oil industry and the water utilities continues with support from a number of industrial partners including Schlumberger Research, in Cambridge, British Gas Research Labs, Shell Exploration, and Northumbrian Water. Interest in the work and the accumulated I.P.R. attracts regular visitors from the U.S.A., Japan, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. Dr Carpenter is developing research ideas in knowledge management and process control and continues the development of tooling technology for milling.
Professor Maropoulos is actively engaged in developing new methods for aggregate process modelling and planning, integration of design with manufacturing planning, assembly modelling and tooling technology. The main aim of the aggregate process modelling work is the rapid assessment of early design options using quality, cost and delivery criteria and the planning of manufacturing operations within a distributed and collaborative environment.
5) Centre for Electronic Systems (CES) (Purvis, Johnson, Love, Johnstone)

The Centre for Electronic Systems, led by Professor Purvis, has grown considerably since the last RAE. Initially it was a grouping of four academics, three from Engineering and one from Physics. It is now currently on target to reach a complement of twenty additional staff and has become known as the ‘Regional Centre for Electronics Technology’ (ReCET). The Centre’s theme is relevant research for Industry and as such attracts a large amount of corporate sponsorship. Its core themes are Electronics Device and Systems support in topics ranging from Device Failure Mechanisms to Multiprocessor modules working in harsh environments. A range of high quality equipment has been secured to underpin research on real time algorithms and device test. The project is attracting significant interest and sponsorship from funding agencies which are seeking to promote the creation of enterprise based on "high-tech clever" ideas and is beginning to take its place in the emerging UK network of excellence to nurture and stimulate commercially exploitable research.

6) Centre for Automotive Research (CAR) (Dominy, Bumby, Sims-Williams, Trevelyan)

The newly created Centre for Automotive Research was established to consolidate and promote the diverse range of automotive research within the School and across departmental boundaries. Dr Dominy is the Director of the Centre which builds upon a worldwide reputation for expertise in the areas of hybrid vehicles, aerodynamics, acoustic analysis and mathematical modelling. A common link between these topics is their application to future generations of lightweight vehicles; a theme of the Foresight Programme. In the short time since the creation of the centre Dr Bumby has secured funding for research on the Torus generator for hybrid electric vehicles under the Foresight Vehicle Programme to complement existing industrial and research council-funded research. Dr Dominy and the aerodynamics group have established an international reputation for the development and application of innovative wind tunnel test techniques and instrumentation for the investigation of airflow unsteadiness in relation to vehicle stability and safety.

7) Electrical Power and Control Group (EPC) (Spooner, Bumby, Bialek, Mueller)

The group, led by Professor Spooner, is supported by many industrial links and interacts closely with industrial developments. These links are helping to fund the construction of test facilities within the group laboratories to assist in the development of generator systems up to 50 kW capacity. A dedicated facility for the development of special purpose linear machines is also being installed with the support of funds from industry and a new laboratory facility is being constructed for the development of integrated engine generator sets for hybrid electric vehicles. The technical support staff are funded directly by industrial research contracts.
The group has a vigorous programme of research into special generator systems and has built up a world class reputation in the field. In particular, the group is world renowned for work in the renewable energy field and has been asked to act as a consultant for the electrical equipment for a novel wind turbine being developed commercially by an Icelandic company. The group was also recently selected for consultancy services by a U.S. company developing wind turbines for commercial installation.
The group received two contracts in 1998 from the Electrical Power Research Institute (E.P.R.I.) to support their work in the fields of power system economics and power system dynamics and stability. E.P.R.I. is the main funding body in the area of power engineering in the U.S.A. and has a worldwide reputation for the quality of the research it supports.

8) Turbomachinery, Aerodynamics and Industrial Fluid Mechanics (TAIFM) (He, Gregory-Smith, Dominy, Sims-Williams)

Experimental and computational work on methods of reducing secondary flow in turbine cascades is a continuing programme of work with funding from Rolls-Royce and ABB-Alstom under the direction of Dr Gregory-Smith. He is also involved with an E. U. funded programme (APPACET) concerned with developing test cases and computational codes for turbomachinery with a number of Industrial and Academic partners across Europe. Experimental and computational studies of the physics of flow unsteadiness associated with road vehicles are directed by Dr Dominy with funding primarily from E.P.S.R.C. and B.M.W.-Rover. The work is focused upon inherent unsteady structures and upon unsteadiness induced by atmospheric conditions. The development of instrumentation techniques has been a core activity. In industrial aerodynamics, Dr Dominy is studying air flow over novel power cables configurations with support from Northern Electric. Other activities include high speed Coanda flows, development of water jet cutting for bone surgery, and modelling of processes in a new engine for Kvaerner Ltd.
Research in Unsteady Flow and Aeroelasticity in Turbomachinery has expanded considerably under the direction of Professor L. He. Research links in the area of unsteady aerodynamics and aeroelasticity have been established with major UK based gas turbine/steam turbine companies, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in Japan. In an EPSRC/Rolls-Royce funded project, the first known three dimensional CFD computation of rotating stall in aero-engine compressors has been produced, and the work has been rated the Alpha-5 (top grade) in the post-project assessment. A novel nonlinear harmonic methodology with wide relevance to general unsteady aerodynamic modelling was proposed at Durham and its validity and effectiveness has been consistently demonstrated in several research projects on gas turbine bladerow interaction and flutter prediction sponsored by European Gas Turbines/ABB-ALSTOM.
9) Applied Mechanics (AM) (Bettess, Maropoulos, Appleton, Steven, Selby, Scott, Toll, Trevelyan, White, Dyer, Augarde)

Professor Bettess and Dr Selby currently have an EPSRC grant for Ground Vibration due to Construction Activities. This work centres on the computation of ground waves using finite element and infinite element models.
Professor Bettess and Dr Trevelyan have three current EPSRC grants for research work on special finite elements, infinite elements and boundary elements for modelling the propagation of very short waves, in a range of problem areas, such as elastic waves, acoustic waves, surface waves on water and electromagnetic waves. Links have been established with B.M.W., B and W, British Aerospace, D.E.R.A. and Vector Fields Limited.
The Applied Mechanics Group is also working with the Centre for Biomedical Engineering. A research contract funded by Howmedica (Professor Unsworth/Dr Trevelyan) is investigating the stress behaviour of artificial knee joints using compliant layers. Further work is proposed in this area, notably in the mathematical modelling of the wear process in polymer liners which causes loosening failures in artificial hip joints.
Dr Scott has continued his research into the behaviour of reinforced concrete structural elements. He has internationally recognised expertise in the measurement of reinforcement strain and bond stress distributions. He has recently completed a major EPSRC funded investigation of beam-column connection behaviour and is currently collaborating with the University of Leeds on an EPSRC funded project aimed at improving long-term deflection calculations for beams and slabs.
Dr Toll and Dr Selby have supervised work on bonding in soils, both tropical and UK pulverised fuel ash. Other areas of work include partially saturated soils, knowledge-based systems and tunnelling in soils.
Dr Selby and Dr Wilson have undertaken detailed studies into the dynamic response of twenty masonry bell towers.
Dr White and Dr Dyer are members of the Environmental Research Centre, a University wide grouping to encourage interdisciplinary research between groups with an interest in environmental issues. With these interdisciplinary links, Dr White is involved in a number of studies relating to sediment and pollutant supply to and transport in rivers. Dr Dyer is developing a novel line of research into in-situ remediation of contaminated land and has an EPSRC proposal shortlisted for submission as a full proposal to the 5th Call of the Waste and Pollution Management Programme.
Dr White is currently co-ordinator for three major projects. An EPSRC funded study, SIMBA (Sustainability in Managed Barrages), incorporates research into the processes which control the supply of sediment and pollutant to three of the UK's estuarine barrage impoundments. The EC funded WARMICE project, with research partners from the Department of Geography at Durham and from Spain and Austria, is an investigation into sediment sources and rates of sedimentation for upland reservoirs in northern England, the Spanish Pyrenees and the Austrian Alps. A new project, to develop a mathematical model of the inputs from diffuse pollutant sources, including sediments, to rivers is just about to start.

Staffing Policy The normal turnover of staff has resulted in the retirement of several staff during the review period. However, we have been able to appoint some excellent relatively young staff. Specifically from industry Johnstone (Electronics), Short (Manufacturing) and from the academic environment Augarde (Applied Mechanics) and Sims-Williams (Thermodynamics). In addition we have appointed Professor Grant Steven from the University of Sydney as a Professorial Fellow. Seven staff have been promoted to Readerships and three promotions have been made to Professorships (in Electronics, Manufacturing and Thermodynamics).

All new members of staff are expected to join one of the existing Centres or Research Groups. An experienced member of staff is appointed as a mentor to a new member of staff. The School Research Committee gives priority to new members of staff in the allocation of research funds. The School policy is to give new staff an initial relatively small teaching and administrative load so that they may devote more time to establishing their research programmes. It should be noted that younger members of staff form a quarter of the committee membership of the School Research Committee.

The School provides staff development support for attendance at International/National Conferences and for industrial visits. University and School research studentships are allocated by the School Research Committee on a competitive basis. All staff and research students are encouraged to attend weekly School-based research seminars. Requests for research leave are submitted directly to the Board of Studies. Leave is on the basis of one term in seven, but research leave is awarded only on merit. The Board of Studies has agreed on a set of research norms, which all staff are encouraged to meet and indeed to exceed. The norms consist of a set of minimum threshholds and include research income, grant applications, publications and research student supervision.

All staff and research students in the School enjoy superb facilities including well-equipped research labs and excellent computing support. First class technical and administrative support is provided by the School. A shared common room facilitates convenient interaction among all staff and research students.

The University has established a Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education which has university-wide responsibility for academic staff development programmes. Its comprehensive range of programmes includes workshops on supervision of research students, making research grant applicatons, career planning for contract research staff and writing up research for publication.

Graduate School

All postgraduates are members of the University's Graduate School. The Graduate School runs an extensive induction and training programme, tailored to graduate research students in the Faculty of Science. The Graduate School provides an overarching structure for the monitoring of postgraduate student progress. In addition all full-time research students are members of one of the University's Colleges or Societies which play a leading role in pastoral support for students.


As documented elsewhere, we have achieved all the objectives stated in our 1996 submission. The Research Centres and Research Groups have linked strongly with industry and responded to industrial priorities. In particular, outstanding success has been achieved with international manufacturers in orthopaedic implants and in concurrent engineering for manufacturing. Despite the closure of both the Fujitsu and Siemens microelectronic plants in the North East, strong collaboration has now been established with Filtronix who purchased the Fujitsu facilities. Work on finite element analysis has expanded to embrace several areas including electrical machines, biomedical engineering, manufacturing and structures. Research in Communications Networks was significantly enhanced by funding from the HEFCE special equipment initiative with over £0.5 m from industry to support a new ATM network testbed.

Users of this website should note that the information is not intended to be a complete record of all research centres in the UK

Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL

Last updated 17 October 2003

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