Civil Engineering: Fully Funded DSTL PhD at Swansea: Electro Active Polymer based soft robots

  • Phd
  • Full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 28 June 2021
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Civil Engineering: Fully Funded DSTL PhD Scholarship: Accelerated in-silico characterisation, topology optimisation and design of Electro Active Polymer based soft robots
This scholarship is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Start date: October 2021
Subject areas: Soft robotics; Computational Mechanics; Engineering Simulation
Project supervisors:

Project description:
Scientists now predict that 40 years of conventional hard robot technology will imminently be superseded by a new soft robotics era. Electro Active Polymers (EAPs) have been identified as ideal ultra-soft materials for the fabrication of soft robot components due to their ability to undergo highly complex stretching, bending and twisting actuation when subjected to electric stimuli. Yet the development of EAP soft robots is still in its infancy due to the myriad of design parameters to be considered which act as a bottleneck for the progress in the field.
In this project, a step-change in in-silico simulation capability will be put forward in order to complement physical experimentation, by recreating environments which may not be (safely) tested within the constraints of a laboratory, and help thus the designer with novel otherwise unthinkable concepts.
The proposed work is extremely exciting due to its multi-disciplinarity across different scientific fields, namely, (1) it combines in-silico and hands-on experimental laboratory research activities, (2) it brings together opposite ends of computational mechanics such as high fidelity computing and Data Science accelerated reduced order modelling and Artificial Intelligence, (3) it requires computations at 3 different length scales (micro, meso, macro). The methodology is adventurous due to the design concepts that aims to address, namely, (1) electrode meso-architecture design for shape morphing and (2) microstructure multi-layered design for complex actuation outputs.
This project aims to address these challenges by setting out a research plan which will bring together concepts of homogenisation, topology optimisation and the latest technology in Finite Element modelling. \*\Collaboration with world-leading expert Professor Francisco Chinesta at ENSAM (France), \*\will enable the integration of cutting-edge developments in Reduced Order Modelling and Artificial Intelligence to accelerate computationally intensive parts of the design process.
Location: Zienkiewicz Centre for Computational Engineering & Future Manufacturing Research Institute, Bay Campus, Swansea University (UK). The project includes a minimum research stay of 6-month at ENSAM (France).
Available resources/facilities: Access to relevant Computer Clusters and Material Laboratories.


Candidates should hold a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) and ideally a master’s degree in Engineering (Mechanical, Material, Civil, Aerospace), Physics, Mathematics and cognate disciplines.

Experience with engineering simulation and material experimentation are desirable.

Good programming skills (C/C++/Fortran and Python/MATLAB) are preferred.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University‚Äôs English Language entry requirements, please visit ‚Äst

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/French candidates only.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,900-£16,719. 

There will be additional funds available for conference attendance, visits to the French partner and attendance to events organised by DSTL.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/French candidates only.


Please visit our website for more information.
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