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PhD Studentship: Digital Twin Technology in Train Servicing and Maintenance

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, August 26, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a full time PhD studentship in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences on a research project in Digital Twin Technology in Train Servicing and Maintenance funded jointly by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The start date is 1st October 2019. Only those eligible for home tuition fees can apply.

Here, a Digital Twin (DT) refers to a comprehensive physical and functional description of a cyber-physical system combined with operational data. This DT supports all stages of the system lifecycle and in particular operation of the system in order for example to identify operation anomalies or failure modes, and to feedback service data into improving the design phase.

You will join a team that have developed an experimental robotic system for train fluid servicing with TBG Solutions Ltd, in collaboration with Chiltern Railways. Areas for further research are emerging from this project, in terms of widening the scope of autonomous systems for performing tasks that are not well-suited for humans. Such systems will generate data on the condition of robot and the trains being serviced, providing opportunities to improve the reliability and availability of trains.

You will initially investigate:
• Review relevant aspects of DT, virtual prototypes, cyber-physical systems, model-based system engineering and Internet of Things.
• Develop DT technology for representing physical assets of train servicing with virtual models.
• The potential impact on autonomous train servicing of combining service data with simulation models.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Mark Atherton at


Successful candidates must have a first degree at or equivalent to 2:1 or above in a suitable engineering discipline, e.g. mechanical engineering, systems engineering, mechatronics, or similar. A Master’s level qualification is desirable but not essential. You must also be eligible for home tuition fees.

Demonstrable practical engineering ability through project work is expected. Relevant experience in autonomous systems or mechatronics is an advantage. In addition, he/she should be highly motivated, able to work in a team and have good communication skills.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply, please email the following to AND by no later than Monday 26th August 2019:
i. Your up-to-date CV.
ii. Your single A4 page, single-spaced personal statement setting out why you are interested in undertaking this project and confirmation of your eligibility for home tuition fees. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your motivation and summarise your suitability for research.
iii. A brief research proposal on digital twins, 5-10 pages should be sufficient. This will provide an initial indication of your ability to grasp and summarise technical information relevant to the research area. It will also be useful if you devote a section to what equipment you believe will be needed to enable the research. It is common in PhD study to expect a PhD proposal to be developed by the applicant before a decision is made and we aim to show our sponsors EPSRC and RSSB that a rigorous process has been followed in selecting a candidate. A good proposal will demonstrate the independent critical thinking and communication skills vital before starting a PhD programme. Here is a good guideline:
iv. Copies of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) confirming that you have a first degree at or equivalent to 2:1 or above in a suitable engineering discipline;
v. Evidence of your English language capability to IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, if appropriate;
vi. Names and contact details for two academic referees.

Funding Notes

Only those eligible for home tuition fees can apply. Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend of £17,009 plus payment of their full time home tuition fees for a period of 36 months.

How good is research at Brunel University London in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 63.27

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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