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PhD Studentship in Mechanical Engineering - Novel Subsurface Inspection Radar to Inspect Tunnels and Tunnels Linings for Improved Maintenance

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 20th August 2019
Closes: 27th September 2019

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,009 (full award-rising with inflation). Also, additional funding for local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration: October 2019 for 3 years.


The PhD study is to prepare for commercialisation and demonstration of a novel, portable radar system that provides a simple non-invasive mechanism for inspecting tunnel infrastructure. At present current Ground Penetrating Radar techniques are not reliable and therefore invasive techniques are required to inspect tunnel structures. The research is to help us develop a vehicle-mounted system, that would undertake these activities using a more thorough inspection based on imaging radar technology that can visualise subsurface faults in 3D. Currently acoustic hammer inspection requires an engineer to hit the tunnel lining and record the acoustic emission. This is impractical, time-consuming, labour intensive and can easily overlook regions where the tunnel is damaged.

The Railview system inspects the whole tunnel so that maintenance can be targeted and effective. The system uses a rotating antenna capable of 360-degree investigation, enabling it to detect and identify subsurface problems that occur beyond the vehicle width. The system is innovative, unique and rail infrastructure managers believe it has a large market potential. The PhD will provide the mechanism to accurately locate the rotating antenna system in the centre of the tunnel being inspected. This will probably use Lidar to determine the tunnel surfaces and then determine the centre of the tunnel. The Lidar will also be used to maintain the antenna in the centre of the tunnel as the vehicle progresses along the tunnel at 5km/h.


European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Railview Limited

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor Mark Robinson, NewRail Railway Research Centre, School of Engineering

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in Engineering, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, physics, electrical engineering or a related subject.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk in the application portal must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • Insert the programme code 8090F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD in Mechanical Engineering - Mechanical and Systems Engineering’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code ENG048 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code ENG048 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.


For further details, please contact:

Professor Mark Robinson
School of Engineering
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6197

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