This is an exciting opportunity for a fully funded by EPSRC, Cranfield University and Innerspec Technologies Ltd  PhD studentship in the IVHM Centre (with annual bursary of up to £18,000 - tax free, plus fees for three years) in the area of advanced diagnostics of aircraft structures using automated non-invasive (non-destructive) imaging techniques. The ultimate objective of the research is to deliver an automated innovative damage evaluation tool capable to detect and characterize damage on either metallic or composite structures by novel optimised fusion of various advanced imaging technologies such as ultrasound, infrared, visual, etc. The PhD student would also have the privilege to collaborate with Laval University in Quebec, Canada, as well as with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the NDT research team of Aerospace in Ottawa. Read more Read less

This research is going to tackle theoretical basis and fundamental aspects of imaging technologies that are currently not available. Automated and reliable diagnosis and size estimation on structural defects such as BVID (Barely Visible Impact Damage), Low Energy Impact Damage, subsurface flaws, etc will be performed in this research. There are several techniques that are widely used to inspect structures, albeit these cannot perform effective diagnosis and size estimation at early stage of damage development (normally termed “late” for that reason). To address this knowledge gap, the PhD researcher will perform theoretical investigation and modelling of damaged (at early stage of damage, including damage in fibres and matrix for composites) and undamaged metals and composites thus establishing the main differences. Based on this investigation, an effective assessment tool based on novel non-invasive imaging technologies will be developed.

There is an innovative need for more efficient and reliable damage inspection, reducing time and cost of maintenance without compromising the safety of passengers and goods transported. This research will develop an innovative technological idea with many capabilities that can facilitate a new era for the inspection and maintenance of structures, as it provides the best capabilities for in-service inspection and characterization, covering the majority of the transport systems industrial used materials (metallic and composite). There is a major breakthrough in this, as it is an emerging area of high interest worldwide for the transport sector.

Cranfield has excellent facilities for automated non-invasive imaging technologies. Overall, the facilities within the University and the collaborating partners Universite Laval, NRC and Innerspec, are sufficient for the research to be performed within the framework of this PhD project. Furthermore, the industrial partner, Innerspec Ltd, will provide access to industrial test facilities and equipment, providing the student with experience of R&D and testing in an industrial environment. Therefore, the PhD student will be supported fully to perform top level research through this EPSRC DTP fully funded opportunity.

The respective scientific results of the research are:

  • To provide novel approaches for assessing damage in materials used in the transport sector and identify surface and internal discontinuities with size to depth ratio less than 1.5 and detect the size, type and depth of the defect.
  • To develop innovative image recognition methodology capable of fusing the various imaging tools and providing a reliable and automatic detection of different types of defects in metal and composites.
  • To develop novel image fusion technology for optimal combination of the developed imaging techniques.
  • Software development for the advanced imaging data selection and processing.
  • Development of a high precision spatial positioning system, capable of tracking the position of the non-invasive imaging sensors relative to the component under inspection.

The PhD student would have the privilege to work (training – collaboration) with Prof Xavier Maldague at his Lab in Quebec, in order to learn to work with various image processing tools developed for advanced NDT inspection, as well as collaborate with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the NDT research team of Aerospace in Ottawa. Travel costs to Canada for the collaboration, as well as to international major conferences for presenting research findings in major conferences will be covered by Cranfield University.

The close collaboration with the industrial partner (Innerspec Technologies Ltd) will expose the student to in-service challenges and needs for industrial applications. Such engagement opportunities will improve the student’s capability to transform academic research into real time engineering solutions.

At a glance

  • Application deadline26 Aug 2022
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date29 Sep 2022
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSATM294

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. Students with degrees in Computer Science or Engineering, Physics, Electrical, Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering are encouraged to apply for this post.    


Sponsored by EPSRC, Cranfield University and Innerspec Technologies Ltd, this studentship will provide an annual bursary of up to £18,000 (tax free) plus fees* for three years.              

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.

About the sponsor

Sponsored by EPSRC, Cranfield University and Innerspec Technologies Ltd.

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

For further information please contact: 

Name: Prof Nico Avdelidis


Name: Dr Bahareh Zaghari

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