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Design of lightweight stiffened shell structures using topology optimisation

School of Engineering

About the Project

The aim of this project is to develop topology optimisation methods for the design of lightweight stiffened shell structures.

Shell structures are often stiffened using elements, such as ribs, to improve their structural efficiency in supporting the applied loads. They are widely used in many areas of engineering that require lightweight structural components, such as aerospace, marine, automotive and civil structures. The optimal design of a stiffened shell is a complex relationship between many factors, such as plate and stiffener thicknesses, shape and location of any cut-outs and layout (position and number) of stiffening elements.

Topology optimisation is a powerful design approach where the size, shape and layout of a structure are optimised simultaneously, leading to highly efficient novel designs. This approach has been applied to optimise stiffened shell structures before. However, existing methods are often limited by their design freedom and do not fully exploit the potential of topology optimisation (e.g. by fixing stiffener shape and position, or fixing shell thickness). Other methods rely on complex heuristic procedures that limit their use beyond simple design criteria. Thus, this project will aim to develop methods that can overcome the limitation of existing techniques.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) the UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Mechanical / Civil / Aerospace engineering or similar.. It is essential that the applicant has a background in structural mechanics, finite element analysis, computer programming.

Experience in nonlinear mechanics, optimisation methods would be advantageous.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• Detailed CV

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr P Dunning (), with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

It is possible to undertake this project by distance learning. Interested parties should contact Dr Dunning to discuss this.

Funding Notes

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. THERE IS NO FUNDING ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT

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