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Human-informed Artificial Intelligence for improved wind turbine health monitoring

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Graeme Manson, Prof N Dervilis, Prof Keith Worden  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Aura Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment; a partnership between the Universities of Durham, Hull, Newcastle and Sheffield. The successful applicant will undertake a PG-Dip training year at the University of Hull before completing their PhD research at the University of Sheffield.

For more information visit www.auracdt.hull.ac.uk. Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email [Email Address Removed] and we will forward the query to the relevant supervisor. Please do not contact the project supervisors directly.

Offshore wind farms are entering a new era with much greater adoption of sensing systems thereby presenting huge opportunities for the health-monitoring of wind turbines (WTs) and entire wind farms. The wealth of data, both in terms of high sampling frequency and density of sensor coverage, leads to the potential of health monitoring systems that are capable of predicting the onset of damage in a quicker and more robust fashion than previous campaigns. That said, this explosion in big data also presents challenges within the data-to-decision chain.

Arguably, the key step in this chain is that of Feature Selection whereby damage sensitive features, drawn from raw sensor data, are identified the level of success in a health-monitoring campaign is inextricably linked to the quality of the selected features. When the amount and type of raw data is limited, the task of selecting optimal or near-optimal features is one that may be conducted manually but, when the amount and types of data increase significantly, the task becomes one that requires automated computational support.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms may be developed to address such problems and barely a day goes by without a new AI success story appearing in the press. Equally well-documented are stories where AI algorithms demonstrate bias and a lack of intelligence leading to potentially very harmful consequences. AI will inevitably become a hugely powerful tool in the field of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) but, in order to avoid misleading or harmful outcomes where AI identifies features from within the data that initially appear promising but later transpire to be detrimental, it will be essential to incorporate the views of human experts.

Consequently, this project proposes to develop a Human-plus-AI approach for SHM of offshore wind farms. A number of machine learning tools ranging from relatively simple techniques such as Outlier Analysis through to more advanced techniques such as Gaussian Processes (GPs) and Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) shall be investigated to develop architectures that allow for the incorporation of human input. The project will provide state-of-the-art AI and Machine Learning technologies that incorporate human expertise throughout their development thereby resulting in robust SHM for wind turbines that truly leverages the power of big data without the risk of harmful outcomes from rogue AI.

We will develop Bayesian technologies and tools which process the collection of data and provide advanced data features that are rich in diagnostic information. This feature identification phase will incorporate human expertise at various points to ensure that unwanted biases be removed and to give the expert the opportunity to approve, from a physical viewpoint, the AI identified features. Depending upon the particular dataset being investigated, the source of the human expert input may come from within the Dynamics Research Group (DRG) or knowledge from the industrial partners.

This project will consider a broad range of tools such as active, semi-supervised and transfer learning. To build such models, the project will make use of the latest developments in machine learning and statistics; in particular, techniques like Gaussian Processes (GPs). Furthermore, tools like outlier analysis will also be considered. Offshore wind farm SCADA data will be used from the team's connections with Vattenfall and Siemens-Gamesa. The DRG and the supervisor team have parallel projects in offshore wind with industrial partners that will be used to create links for advice and data (https://npow.group.shef.ac.uk/). 

Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Engineering, Computer Science, Physics or Mathematics and Statistics, or a closely related discipline we would like to hear from you. 

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal; you must also download a supplementary application form from the Aura CDT website, complete and submit as part of the online application.

For more information about the Aura CDT including links and detailed instructions please visit our how to apply page.


Research Council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. Our Aura CDT scholarships are available to Home (UK) Students. To be considered a Home student, and therefore eligible for a full award, a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the scholarship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). For full eligibility information, please refer to the EPSRC website. In addition, a number of Aura CDT Scholarships will be available to International Students across the projects offered by the partner institutions.


For more information why not watch a recording of the webinar we held on 29 November? You will be able to hear the Project Leads from each partner institutions, as well as the question and answer session that followed the presentations.

Funding Notes

The Aura CDT is funded by the EPSRC and NERC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, circa £17,668 per annum at 2022/23 rates (subject to progress).
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