This studentship will answer the following question: can we use a model reduction strategy when dealing with the non-linear dynamics of a high aspect ratio wing structure in experimental conditions? The research will resort to recently developed techniques in non-linear dynamics, based on spectral-submanifolds and non-linear normal modes to represent the non-linear dynamic behaviour of a structure with a reduced non-linear model with few degrees of freedom (less than ten) that could be easily numerically integrated in a simulation environment. Read more Read less

The aerospace industry has seen major technological advancements in the last 30 years; both in design, materials and manufacturing. The next revolution, driven by efficiency and environmental concerns, aims to move away from the traditional tube-and-wing configurations where only incremental improvements can be made. The industry is now focusing on radical concepts that promise to provide step increases in efficiency – such as high aspect ratio wing configurations. Dr Lone is currently involved in the Agile-Wing-Integration project, which deals with the design of this new high aspect-ratio wing.

In this context, having an accurate flight physics model is of paramount importance. Today, numerous computationally expensive modelling tools exist, but there is a lack of “fast” numerical tools that can be used in the conceptual design stages for de-risking a concept from nonlinear flight dynamics and aeroelastics perspective. Typically, a non-linear finite element model with hundreds of degrees-of-freedoms is used, but when dealing with transient responses several iterations are necessary to guarantee convergence, rendering it often unfeasible to run in “real-time”.

The project aims at using the recent development in non-linear system model reduction (in the last 2 years there have been promising development in this mathematical area) and adapting these to work with a Timoshenko beam model, to reduce the structural dynamics of a wing to a few degrees of freedom non-linear model. This would be a ground-breaking result as currently this method has been applied successful only on numerical models and in certain specific conditions (e.g. low damping modes).

This is an EPSRC sponsored project and the candidate will be based in the Aerospace Integration Research Centre, where both supervisors are working and have access to: the Aeroelasticity laboratory (AIRC), the Shaker lab and the National Wind Tunnel Facility. The results of this project will also be useful for the Agile Wing Integration project.

The main objectives of the project are:
• Adapting and modifying reduced order model strategies to work with non-linear geometric continuous models with numerical and experimental data.
• Developing solutions and algorithms for carrying out non-linear experimental modal analysis.
• Integration of the reduced model in a coupled simulation environment.

The studentship will support expenses of the project, provide travel bursaries for training, a non-linear system workshop and conferences. Moreover, a training period on mathematical reduced order modelling at Aston University will be supported by the studentship.

The PhD studentship aims at demonstrating the capabilities of reduced order model strategies in aeronautical engineering, especially for flight dynamics and control algorithms. The project will have a software phase at the beginning (preliminary analysis on numerical models) and at the end (integration). In between these two phases, experiments will be carried out on an existing scaled model of a wing, using shakers, accelerometers and laser vibrometers. Thus, the resulting model will be tuned on experimental data, which will be a ground-breaking result.The simulation toolbox will be enriched by the possibility to use a reduced-model instead of using a full-order finite element model. Consequently, the requirements of the simulation toolbox will be considered since the beginning of the project.

At a glance

  • Application deadline01 Sep 2019
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU
  • Reference numberSATM0074

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent, in a related discipline such as mathematics, physics or engineering. The ideal candidate should have some understanding in simulation, numerical modelling and/or experimental testing. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders and an interest in research.


To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals). Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

Normally, to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). For more details:

About the sponsor

Sponsored by EPSRC, this studentship will provide a bursary up to £14,777 (tax free) plus fees for three years. It will also cover travel expenses and research costs.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form.

For further information please contact:
Name: Dr Luca Zanotti Fragonara
T: +44 (0)1234 750111 Ext: 5280