UK Cross Country Aerospace/Composites Visit

Did you know that there is an amazing amount of composite materials research that is going on in the UK?  I knew there was a lot, but until this week (and what I’ve visited is by no means comprehensive) I wasn’t aware of just quite how much! I’ve now had the opportunity to see several examples (details below :) )!

I have spent the last week (June 13-17, 2011) with a delegation of Canadians from Concordia University, visiting composites research centers (and Universities) in the UK, and working to identify specific areas of mutual interest and collaboration. The delegation included: Dr. Robert Fews, Aerospace Special Advisor and Director of Concordia Institute for Aerospace Design and Innovation (CIADI); Shelley Sitahal, Associate Director of Research Partnerships and Innovation, from the Concordia Office of Research; Dr. Robin Drew, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at Concordia, and myself.

Our visit took us across the UK to several institutions:

Sheffield & Rotherham – Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)

AMRC - Rotherham

In this picture (L-R): Ted Brezina, Bob Fews, Drew Robin, Richard Scaife, Shelley Sitahal following our discussions at the AMRC in Rotherham

Manchester – North West Composites Centre (NWCC)

NWCC - Machester

In this picture (L-R): Shelley SItahal, Drew Robin, Paul Hogg, Bob Fews, Andrew Walker following our discussions at the NWCC in Manchester

HatfieldUniversity of Hertfordshire

Bristol – Advanced Composites Center for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) (also in close proximity: the National Composites Center, which unfortunately we did not get to on this visit :( )

See our trip mapped out below, starting from the AMRC in Sheffield:

View Composites in a larger map

During our visits, many areas of common interest were discussed, shared programs (both at undergraduate and graduate levels) were considered, and specific joint projects and potential funding sources were identified.  Although the discussions did tend to focus towards the aerospace sector, owing to the concentration of aerospace work done in the Montreal area, composite materials are used in several other sectors including (but not restricted to) the automotive/motorsport sector, elite sports and others. All in all it was a promising series of discussions that will undoubtedly lead to increased Canada/UK collaborations in these areas.

In 2009, the UK Government unveiled its National Composites Strategy, and since that time there has been an increase in activity in this sector.  The most recent being the announcement of the Technology Innovation Center in High Value Manufacturing (March 2011) which includes the AMRC (University of Sheffield), the NCC (University of Bristol), the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC – University of Sheffield and Manchester), the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the Advanced Forming Research Centre (University of Strathclyde), the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), and the WMG (formerly the Warwick Manufacturing Group – University of Warwick).  No end of opportunities for international research collaborations!


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