Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Performance and inspection of mechanical structures and systems

Development, analysis, monitoring and optimisation of mechanical structures and systems.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

Development, analysis, monitoring and optimisation of mechanical structures and systems. This research area includes both the experimental and the modelling techniques that underpin understanding of the performance of materials and mechanical structures, the development of non-destructive evaluation techniques, tribology and surface engineering, dynamics and transmission. It also encompasses relevant elements of acoustics research.

This multidisciplinary research area is critical to the sustained health of the UK’s fundamental core engineering industry sectors.

We will:

  • work with the Research Centre for Non-Destructive Evaluation to promote engagement with relevant groups and industrial stakeholders across the UK
  • maximise the potential of the cohort of early-career and established-career fellows to set solid foundations for the future health of the area
  • strengthen ties with mathematics, particularly in the field of uncertainty quantification and predictive modelling
  • reduce fragmentation in the research community by supporting technological applications in a coordinated way
  • seek opportunities for the Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems community to demonstrate alignment to EPSRC outcomes.

Why we're doing it

This area contributes strongly to national strategic needs, including the automotive, aerospace, healthcare, manufacturing and defence sectors. Research is also strongly linked to the energy sector, through oil and gas, wind turbines and nuclear power. Specifically, this area is influenced by changes to the worldwide nuclear industry that are expected to grow in the coming decades, particularly around research in non-destructive assessment for decommissioning of structures and waste management.

The Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems community has the potential to impact the development of advanced materials. The area is strongly linked to the following research areas, which contribute to the development and evaluation of new and existing technologies within materials engineering:

The formation of the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials, and critical innovation drivers such as the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, will have a strong influence on the landscape and appropriate alignment and integration will be important. There are also strong links to other priority areas, for example robotics.

The UK has internationally-leading centres of critical mass and institutions in acoustics, dynamics, structural engineering, tribology and non-destructive testing. Research in non-destructive evaluation and testing represents a significant part of the research area and the UK is world-leading in non-destructive testing with a healthy supply chain. Strong links to manufacturing extend to large EPSRC investments that focus on developing innovative manufacturing methods and demand improved precision and machine performance.

Structural integrity and systems performance are critical in the design of any engineering product, creating strong links to different sectors, while automated non-destructive evaluation provides defect free manufacturing. While the portfolio is strongly defined by high quality research in non-destructive evaluation and testing and tribology, evidence suggests that uncertainty quantification and predictive modelling are under-represented in the UK.

EPSRC intervention in fellowships, stimulated by recommendations from the 2011 review of mechanical engineering, has led to an increased number of fellows in this area, with a good distribution of early-career and established-career stages. Two centres for doctoral training in integrated tribology and quantitative non-destructive evaluation, and a number of others relevant to this area, ensure the future supply of trained researchers.

The Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems community is capital intensive and has high demand for use of high-performance computing facilities.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 12 September 2023

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