School of Engineering

Aerospace and Computational Engineering

The ACE group, led by Dr Andrew McMullan, boasts research excellence within the disciplines of aerospace and computational engineering. Aerospace is considered in its broadest terms and includes world-leading research in fluid mechanics, energy, control systems, and digital & radio communications, together with aspects of intelligent sensing related to embedded systems, signal processing and software engineering – all crucial aspects of the modern aerospace sector.

The underlying ethos of the group is in the development of a fundamental understanding of physical science and its innovative application to real-world systems. Given this focus on fundamentals, the group’s work often finds applications beyond the aerospace sector, most importantly within (but not limited to) the wider transport sector and the defence and energy industries.

The ACE group believes in a balanced approach to research projects and enjoys international collaborations across many aspects of physical and computational science. It boasts academics with diverse backgrounds in Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics. Collectively, the ACE group is the most significant user of the University’s world-class high-performance computing facilities.

The group sits in the Data Analytics and Computational Modelling theme of the College of Science and Engineering, and shares interests with the Environment and Astronomy, Space & Earth Observation themes. It also leads the School's cross-cutting themes in Energy and Transport.

Research activity is clustered around four teams: Computational Engineering, Aerodynamics and Control, Energy Systems and Propulsion, and Digital and Radio Communications and Space. Particular areas of activity across the group include:

  • Analytical and computational approaches to fluid mechanics with a particular interest in understanding transitional and turbulent flows.
  • The development of fundamental control theory, and the application of advanced tools to novel practical control problems with wide applicability.
  • Wireless communications in the context of 5G and beyond; massive multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) techniques and cooperative diversity schemes; massive machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things; green communications and energy harvesting; software defined networking and the tactile/skills Internet; and intrusion detection and cyber security.
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, where the group has particular strengths in radio propagation, reliable embedded systems design (both software and hardware), real-time processing and fusion of multi-sensor data.
  • Space related activities include fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) techniques for space-borne SRAM-based field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), intelligent processing of satellite and airborne imagery for earth observation, fault-tolerant distributed computing, wireless sensor networks, CubeSat design.
  • Space weather effects, with particular emphasis on radio communications with aircraft operating over polar routes
  • Energy related activities include the development of micro-grid energy systems with energy storage.
  • Modelling, simulation and design of high-reliability multiprocessor and multi / many-core embedded systems, reconfigurable system-on-a-chip (SoC) and network-on-a-chip (NoC) designs, development and verification of dependable software systems.
  • Computational modelling and prototyping of advanced superconducting materials and machines, power energy conversion systems, meta materials for energy applications, and large-scale power system analysis for resilient grids.

The group leads two special interest groups within the national UK Fluids Network: Boundary Layers and Complex Rotating Flows, and Turbulent Free Shear Flows. It is a founding member of the UK Vertical Lift Network, an academic/industrial collaboration providing leadership in the vertical lift sector. Furthermore, it chairs the UK panel of the Union of Radio-Scientifique Internationale.

Research projects

The group is keen to lead or take part in collaborative research projects and consortia. Informal discussions can be initiated with either the Head of Group or any of the ACE group members directly.

PhD applications

The group welcomes students to study for PhD degrees in any of its research areas. Informal discussion can be made with either the Head of Group or any of the ACE group members directly. Details of potential research topics can be found in the websites of ACE group members.

For details of the application procedure, please contact Mrs Michelle Pryce. Learn more and apply for a Research degree in Engineering.

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