Up to 8 positions for PhDs in Advanced Composites Structures and their Manufacture

University of Limerick - Bernal Institute, Dept. of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering

The project:

The purpose of these studentships is to conduct structural mechanics research into composite material structures and their components with the aim of manufacturing technology demonstrators. The successful candidates will also work as part of a larger team within the SFI funded VARICOMP programme collaborating on experimental and design work.

Based in the enviable new composite laboratories at University of Limerick, VARICOMP aims to take advantage of both spatially and temporally variable composite material properties for structural applications. This multimillion Euro project will grow to a team of more than 20 researchers within a couple of years. The equipment and facilities at University of Limerick represent state-of-the art composite materials manufacturing and characterization capabilities. We aim to attract ambitious researchers with different yet complementary skills to include composites manufacture (e.g. advanced fibre placement and automatic tape placement) and structural mechanics skills (solids mechanics, energy methods, finite element analysis), programming skills as well as structural design skills.

So what is VARICOMP?

There is a growing recognition, both among academics and practitioners, that multifunctional hierarchical materials can be engineered and manufactured. Inspired by Nature we can imagine, perhaps, 20 years from now where large scale engineering structures will be ‘grown’ at the push of a button using the latest 3D/4D printing technology alongside additive layer manufacture techniques. Such structures may no longer be homogeneous but contain internal structure at different lengthscales to fulfil functions that are not necessarily just structural. This programme of work takes the spirit of this vision and offers specific types of advanced composite materials and their resulting structures that have variable properties both spatially and temporally, so as to change performance characteristics, in response to varying operating conditions. We call these new materials Varicomposites. New modelling techniques will be developed that not only capture their complex responses but also do so relatively simply so that these models form tools that can be subsequently used for design purposes. In parallel, we will address traditional weaknesses of composites including their poor “strength in the field” by developing beyond state-of-the-art computationally efficient models for stress prediction and also their manufacturability, building on the expertise within Limerick.

VARICOMP has been funded by Science Foundation Ireland, under its research professorship scheme and falls under the auspices of the Bernal initiative, which is a 52 MEuro research investment at the University of Limerick that includes a new building housing the new composites laboratories and office space. VARICOMP will build upon existing strengths at University of Limerick and work closely with the translational research initiative IComp (Irish Centre for Composites Research), so bringing to bear a unified research and development landscape from basic research to technology demonstrator to industrial exploitation.

What you’ll be doing

You will conduct a three-year, fully-funded research programme within the Science Foundation Ireland Varicomp project. You will develop your analytical structural mechanics skills and apply them to composite manufacture and design of variable stiffness and morphing structures.

What you’ll get out of it

University of Limerick has excellent industrial links and there will be opportunity for working with technical industry experts. There will also be excellent opportunity for networking and dissemination at international conferences as well as international placements.

You will be working in a collaborative and stimulating environment where knowledge-sharing and joint problem solving is considered as best practice.

More about University of Limerick

The University of Limerick (UL) with over 13,000 students and 1,300 staff is an energetic and enterprising institution with a proud record of innovation and excellence in education, research and scholarship. The dynamic, entrepreneurial and pioneering values which drive UL’s mission and strategy ensures that we capitalise on local, national and international engagement and connectivity. We are renowned for providing an outstanding student experience and conducting leading edge research. Our commitment is to make a difference by shaping the future through educating and empowering our students. UL is situated on a superb riverside campus of over 130 hectares with the River Shannon as a unifying focal point. Outstanding recreational, cultural and sporting facilities further enhance this exceptional learning and research environment.

  • Further information on the University of Limerick: www.ul.ie

Candidate requirements:

We are looking to recruit one student immediately and up to 13 in total over the next two years. We will consider exceptional students from an Engineering background with (or expecting to receive) at least a high 2.1 honours degree.


Generous stipend and tuition fees paid


For further information please contact:

Professor Paul Weaver (paul.weaver@ul.ie)

Deadline for applications: 22 December 2016 (until positions are filled)

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