PhD Studentship: Conceptual Design Analytical Tool Development for Preliminary Sizing And Weight Estimation of Wing Structures

University of Nottingham - Engineering

Eligibility: UK, EU

Duration of award: 3 years

Supervisors: Dr Andrea Cini, Prof. Atanas A. Popov

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship in the Aerostructures Research Theme at the University of Nottingham

Project Description

This PhD project aims at developing analytical tools for preliminary sizing and weight estimation of wing structural solutions during conceptual design, as potential contribution to the ASTRAL project, inside the EU Clean Sky 2 programme, in collaboration with Airbus Helicopter. Structural conceptual design solutions are generally selected among several possible configurations on the basis of experience and qualitative engineering judgement. Flexible analytical tools are required to quantitatively evaluate structural configurations in term of weight and manufacturability, avoiding the time-consuming model development process of FE analyses.

Analytical models will be developed on the basis of beam and shell theories to design aircraft wing components satisfying stiffness, strength, stability, durability and damage tolerance requirements. Considering all the structural requirements and their associated failure modes, is essential to obtain a preliminary but consistent weight estimation for conceptual design evaluation. Minimum weight optimisation principles and manufacturing constraints will be included into the model identifying weight saving potential and feasibility of different structural solutions. Model versatility will be ensured allowing the analysis of both isostatic and hyperstatic wing architectures and composite wing boxes, consisting of different materialswhether isotropic or orthotropic. Sizing and configuration selection will be performed at the wing box as well as at the individual component level, including the possibility of preliminary build philosophy and assembly strategy assessment. Finite element analyses will be used to verify and validate the analytical model throughout its development.

Entry Requirements:

Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a first-class or upper second-class honours degree, preferably at master level or equivalent, in aerospace engineering or a relevant discipline, such as mechanical or structural engineering. Students with a background in aeronautical structures are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates should be self-motivated and capable of working under pressure to meet deadlines. They should also have good communication skills, inclination to research and proactive behaviour. Previous experience in CAD3D (Catia, Pro-E) finite element modelling (Abaqus, Nastran, Ansys) and programming skills (Matlab) would be advantageous.


Successful applicants will receive a tax-free bursary of £14,553 p.a. and tuition fees for three years, subject to satisfactory research progress. This level of funding is for UK and EU applicants, although international students are eligible to apply with their own funding.

For further information please contact Dr Andrea Cini, T: +44 (0)115 9514181, E:

Applications sent to this address will not be accepted.

Online applications can be submitted via the web, quoting the studentship reference, title and supervisor’s names on the application form

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