University of East Anglia Featured PhD Programmes
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
Lancaster University Featured PhD Programmes

Nonlinear topology optimisation of stiffened shell structures

Project Description

The aim of this project is to develop topology optimisation methods for the design of stiffened shell structures, considering nonlinear affects.

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 light-weight structural components, such as aerospace, ship building, 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. In particular, most methods only consider linear analysis, whereas nonlinear effects, such as large deflections and rotations, can significantly affect performance and optimal design. For example, geometric nonlinearity is required to fully understand the buckling and post-buckling performance of a stiffened panel and thus should be accounted for during optimisation.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Mechanical / Civil / Aerospace engineering (or similar) or Maths.

Essential knowledge of:structural mechanics, finite element analysis, computer programming.
Desired knowledge of: nonlinear mechanics, optimisation methods.


• 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 ()

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.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here

The information you submit to Aberdeen University will only be used by them or their data partners to deal with your enquiry, according to their privacy notice. For more information on how we use and store your data, please read our privacy statement.

* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2020
All rights reserved.