PhD: Novel Sensors For Electric Actuators and Propulsion Drives

University of Bristol - Electrical and Electronic Engineering

The project:

This PhD will focus on developing a rigorous understanding of the operation of state-of-the-art existing generators across a range of domains (mechanical, electrical and thermal). Adding “smart” functionality to these machines requires models that can inform control systems of the operating regime, predict lifetime and failures and adapt to changes in requirements in near real-time. The successful candidate will be involved in developing a series of these models based upon a combination of finite-element analysis and experimental testing.

This is an integral part of increasing the presence and impact of electrical technologies in civil airliners and will also result in:

  • weight and/or volume reduction through performance optimisation
  • reduced maintenance and through-life costs
  • improved functionality (intelligent operation/actuation)

The first part of this PhD will focus on ways of measuring machine quantities such as:

  • stator and rotor voltages and currents
  • component temperatures

whilst the machine is in operation, rotating at speeds.

The second aspect will look at ways in which the data that is being captured can be used to add intelligence to the controller associated with the machine to improve its operation and reliability in service and to assist system design optimisation. This will focus on developing a series of adaptable, lumped parameter, electro-thermo-mechanical models that can be implemented in a discrete form on a real-time architecture. Validation of the models will be performed using existing production hardware, modified and instrumented as necessary.

URL for further information:


How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select <Electrical and Electronic Engineering> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor Dr Drury.

Candidate requirements: 

An essential requirement is a good undergraduate degree (1st, 2:1 or equivalent) in mechanical/electrical/electro-mechanical/mechatronics engineering (or a closely related subject).

Experience of any/all the following areas would be advantageous to the successful candidate:

  • Mechanical design and build
  • Understanding of heat transfer concepts
  • Modelling of dynamic systems
  • Using sensors, instrumentation and data capture systems
  • Knowledge of relevant software environments (Inventor, MATLAB/Simulink, dSPACE, FEMM)


Scholarship covers full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to September 2017) PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate £14,553 plus an additional ‘top-up’ by the industrial partner of £4,000 p.a. (subject to contracts)


For informal enquiries please email Dr David Drury,

For general enquiries, please email

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South West England