Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

University of Bath URSA project: Cyber-Physical Wind Tunnel Test Methods for Next-Generation Flow Control

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Sam Bull, Prof A Plummer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


The Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market is growing rapidly. Market frontrunners (Frost & Sullivan 2019) reveal a range of novel aircraft configurations that are likely to exhibit a breadth of unusual flight characteristics, aeroelastic behaviours and control issues that must be addressed through exploitation of emerging techniques. The field of active flow control, which refers to the augmentation of external aerodynamics through intrusive actuation, offers a promising approach to resolve such issues. Significant complexity, however, is inherent in the analysis and design of active flow control devices and their controllers due to the unsteady, coupled nature of the aerodynamics and structural/flight dynamics. Typically, investigations of active flow control devices are performed on stationary wings, or wings with pre-prescribed motion. Data are then used to build a reduced-order model of the active flow control device for controller design within a numerical representation of the full-system. This approach lends itself to linear aerodynamic behaviour but breaks down when the flow presents strong non-linearities that cannot be sufficiently captured by a reduced-order model, and hence performance of the device and its controller cannot be assessed.

This issue can be circumvented through a cyber-physical approach to testing. Cyber-physical refers to the coupling of real-time numerical simulations with physical experiments. The concept is to simulate aspects of the system that adhere to well-validated models (structural dynamics) while allowing physical tests of complex and potentially unknown aspects (unsteady aerodynamics) as if they were operating within the full system. This approach presents a step-change in testing and analysis capabilities, as it not only allows the non-linear unsteady aerodynamics to properly interact with the rest of the system, but also provides a platform to assess control strategies with more confidence, bridging the gap between current wind tunnel testing and full-system tests.

The successful candidate will apply and develop methods pioneered at the University of Bath (Peiris et al. 2020) to modify our Test Rig for Unsteady aerodYnamics (TRUDY) to a cyber-physical configuration, facilitating the exploration of novel flow control devices and control strategies in unsteady, non-linear aeroelastic systems. This project presents a unique opportunity for the candidate to gain multidisciplinary expertise in unsteady aerodynamics, aeroelastics, numerical modelling, and control.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Sam Bull - [Email Address Removed]

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.

Keywords: Aerospace Engineering; Control Systems; Fluid Mechanics; Mechanical Engineering

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.


Frost and Sullivan (2019). Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape. Retrieved from
Passivity control with adaptive feed-forward filtering for real-time hybrid tests, IFAC Journal of Systems and Control, Volume 12, 2020, 100081, ISSN 2468-6018.

How good is research at University of Bath in Engineering?

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs