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PhD Studentship Opportunity in structures with controllable stiffness

Project Description

A fully funded PhD opportunity has become available in the Centre for Engineering Materials, within the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, at the University of Surrey.

Traditionally, structures were designed to meet a specific load carrying requirement. However, in recent years with the growing demand for reducing mass and volume of structures as well as improving efficiency, the area of multi-functional materials and structures has gained considerable attention. Encapsulating sensing, actuation and control within a structure can be greatly beneficial considering weight reduction and less need for additional components with non-structural functionalities. A structure with controllable stiffness is an example of a multi-functional structure where the primary load carrying capacity can be combined with functional behaviour such as sensing, actuation or impact resilience. Structures with controllable stiffness have indeed found applications in many of the emerging technologies such as soft robotic, conformal shape adaptation or morphing, deployable structures and active impact protection systems. In this project the focus will be on design and development of structures with rapid reversible rigid-compliant switching capability. Fibre-reinforced composites and multi-material 3D printed structures will be considered. The design, analysis and optimisation will be conducted with the combination of experimental, finite element and analytical approaches.

A successful candidate should have good analytical skills as well as good background is solid mechanics. Knowledge or experience in the areas of mechanical behaviour of materials, materials characterisation, additive manufacturing and finite element analysis are desirable. If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Iman Mohagheghian (

Start Date: Preferably 1st of July 2019.

Entry requirements:
Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least an Upper Second Bachelor’s degree, and preferably a Master’s degree, in an appropriate discipline (e.g. engineering, physics, material sciences, applied mathematics or related subject). If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

The project will be conducted under the supervision of Dr Iman Mohagheghian and Professor Robert Dorey.

How to Apply:
Formal applications can be made through our Engineering Materials programme page.
Informal applicant enquiries are recommended prior to submission and can be directly made to Dr Iman Mohagheghian

Funding Notes

The studentship covers the full costs of UK/EU tuition fee, plus a tax-free stipend of approximately £ 14,777 p.a., in line with standard RCUK stipend levels [2018-2019].

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