PhD Studentship: Automated Intelligent Power Unit Architecture Selection/Optimisation

University of Bath - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to assist in the development of an Advanced Powertrain Architecture Optimisation Tool. The position is for a three-year research programme.

The studentship is fully funded by McLaren Automotive and the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) via the Digital Engineering & Test (DE&T) spoke, hosted by Loughborough University within their London campus. The successful candidate will be based at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford London. The candidate will be expected to travel to McLaren Technology Centre (MTC), Woking, to fully integrate with the engineering teams there (cost of travel is included within the project).

The PhD will be supervised by academics from the Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre, part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. The PVRC has recently been announced at the APC spoke for Engine Systems efficiency and are also collaborators in the DE&T spoke.

This is a highly collaborative project led by McLaren Automotive and supported by Ricardo Consulting Engineers and the University of Bath. There will be a parallel PhD studentship contributing to the project (see separate advert)  overall objectives.

Decisions regarding propulsion system architecture occur during the very early stages of vehicle development, and are ideally based on the results of simulation or tests.  The more advanced a propulsion system becomes (e.g. internal combustion engine augmented by some form of electric drive) the more complex the interactions of attributes, and the more difficult and time consuming the determination of merits and drawbacks of a specific system in comparison to another becomes, and the larger the range of simulation tools required.

Automated Intelligent Power Unit Architecture Selection/Optimisation

This workstream is biased towards developing a methodology that enables an optimised architecture to be autonomously selected from a series of performance targets set at the very beginning of a vehicle project. Due to the large number of potential hybrid drive platforms, there is greater variability in the impacts of the power unit on many aspects of its performance, including torque power and efficiency but also handling, packaging and cost. As alluded to above, the increase in complexity inevitably makes understanding the comparative merits and draw backs of different options a difficult and time consuming process. Bridging the various multi-domain tools required together to create a cohesive and well defined methodology represents a significant challenge.

The PhD programmes will be supervised by Dr Sam Akehurst ( and Prof Chris Brace ( of the Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre at the University of Bath (

Funding is provided by McLaren Automotive and supported by Ricardo Consulting Engineers and the University of Bath.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, Training Support Fee , enhanced stipend (£17,000 pa). Overseas students who can fund the difference between the Home/EU and overseas fees are welcome to apply.

Applicants should be of outstanding quality and exceptionally motivated, and should have

  • A First Class or Upper Second Honours degree (or equivalent overseas qualification) in Automotive/Mechanical Engineering or a closely related discipline.
  • A background in internal combustion engines, transmission systems and vehicle powertrain systems.
  • Ideally practical experience of working in an automotive powertrain sector, for example a placement year or graduate experience.
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South West England