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Topology optimisation for nonlinear aeroelasticity

Project Description

The aim of the is project is to develop an efficient nonlinear aeroelastic topology optimisation method and apply it to design novel, high performing aeroelastic structures, such as wings and wind turbine blades.

Topology optimisation is a powerful design approach where the size, shape and layout of a structure are optimised simultaneously, leading to novel, highly efficient designs. Thus, it has been applied to aeroelastic problems, such as aircraft wings and wind turbine blades, to improve structural efficiency by lowering mass.

Most studies and methods use linear models to predict the behaviour of the aeroelastic system. This can lead to either an under designed structure (where additional nonlinear effects cause failure) or an overdesigned structure (where potential benefits of nonlinearity are ignored). Thus, to improve designs further, nonlinear effects should be accounted for during optimisation.

However, both topology optimisation and nonlinear aeroelastic analyses are characterised by being computationally expensive. Thus, a key challenge will be to create efficient methods, enabling the benefits of topology optimisation and nonlinear aeroelastic analysis to be included the same framework.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering (or similar) or Maths.

Essential knowledge of: structural mechanics, fluid dynamics, numerical modelling, computer programming.
Desirable knowledge of: aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, nonlinear mechanics, optimisation methods.


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


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

There is no funding attached to this project. It is for self-funded students only.

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)

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