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Human-centric AI for engineering design changes in the nuclear industry

Project Description

Applicants are being sought for a 36-month full-time, fully-funded PhD, supported by University and faculty funds, focusing on human-centred application of AI within the nuclear industry

As part of the through-life operation of nuclear power plants, sub-components and systems of the plant need replacing or upgrading by a number of drivers such as failures, obsolescence and efficiency improvements. The design and implementation of replacements is a time consuming and manually intensive process which requires information to be drawn from a wide variety of sources, as well as from previous operational experience. The integration of range of AI techniques could lead to automation and augmentation of the design process to deliver significant efficiency improvements and remove costly non-optimal redesigns. This will require research focused on the combination of: knowledge-based systems, case based reasoning and human-centric AI. This will require novel approaches to formal knowledge capture and representation, along with case-based reasoning techniques, to support the retention and re-use of key design decisions and lessons learned. This will include the development of a generic ontology for exchange and fusion of information between a number of systems and resources, such as safety standards, change request logs, design documents and station drawings. Human-centric AI is focused on how the human operator interacts effectively with the artificial intelligence algorithms, and this will be a key element of the PhD. Within the nuclear industry where there is a significant requirement for transparency and auditability of any decisions made in this regulated environment. Therefore, the correct interaction, explanations and justifications being made available to the user is critical. This research will create a novel framework of AI techniques which tackle the issues, and deliver design advice and can be ultimately built into an automated decision support system.

This is an exciting opportunity for the successful candidate to join an internationally recognised research team based in the Institute for Energy and Environment within the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. This PhD will be undertaken in collaboration with the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre at Strathclyde and will be aligned with the EPSRC Delivering Enhanced Through-Life Nuclear Asset Management Prosperity Partnership Grant and its industrial partners (Babcock International, BAM, Bruce Power, EDF Energy, Kinectrics and The Weir Group) as well as working closely with the Alan Turing Institute.
The Department is host to a large number of researchers and PhD students, many of whom are based in the £89M Technology Innovation Centre and working directly with our industrial partners to deliver useful, high-impact research. The successful candidate will engage with the wider research team on a daily basis and will also have opportunities to interact with and present their research to our industrial partners and the wider research community. There will be opportunities for the successful candidate to attend at least one international conference during their studies and to interact with the supervisory team’s academic collaborators who are based at various universities around the world. Ultimately, this PhD position presents a unique opportunity for the successful candidate to design and deliver innovate solutions with opportunities for publication in peer reviewed journals and conferences as well as delivering real industrial impact through research.

Funding Notes

This PhD position is supported by a generous studentship which provides funding to cover all home fees (UK & EU Students only) and a standard annual EPRSC stipend in the region of £14k per annum. The successful candidate would also have the opportunity to attend an international conference to present their work.

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