UoA 28: Mechanical Engineering

The 2001-2007 period has seen bold research strategies coming to fruition and substantial growth in research activity and outputs.  Major achievements over the period include:

  • Completion of a deliberate strategy to strengthen research, culminating in the recruitment of 11 Early Career Researchers (Lecturers), seven of them in the major new research area of bio-medical engineering
  • Appointment of two senior professors in the areas of internal combustion engines and bio-materials
  • £8M SRIF fund investment in infrastructure, providing new Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Structures Laboratories
  • Four major research grants totalling £8M in the last two years: Royal Society-Wolfson Foundation grant for bio-materials and tissue engineering research facility; EPSRC Platform grants for bio- and functional materials processing; an EPSRC grant for ultrasonics applications to cancer treatment, with Oxford University and Institute of Cancer Research; and a MHRA grant for the UCL Disability Equipment Assessment Centre
  • 40% rise in number of research students and two-fold rise in grant income from Research Councils (2002 to 2007) despite 11 ECRs (40% of staff submitted)
  • 44 patents, based on inventions by staff in this submission
  • Major transfer of research outcomes to clinical practice through three major spinout companies: Stanmore Implants Worldwide (value estimated at £12M), Flexnlock, Credent Vascular (including raising £10M venture capital)
  • Rapid growth in links to clinical practice through the Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Sciences (IOMS) and the Academic Division of Surgical and Interventional Sciences (ADSIS)
  • Hosting the UCL Centre for Materials Research (CMR), a UCL-wide network of almost 150 staff engaged in materials research
  • Establishment of the UK’s first Virtual Research Centre in Combustion Engines with Jaguar Cars and Shell Oil
  • The research and concept-design behind the world’s first ocean-going trimaran ship
  • Significant contracts from US Office of Naval Research for research projects on high speed ship design and propulsion
  • A radically new approach to computer aided design of large and complex systems, bringing human factors to the fore in preliminary design

The three key objectives in the 2001 RAE submission were:

(a) Securing funding for long term fundamental work
(b) Better experimental facilities for characterisation of complex fluid flows
(c) Exploitation of research outputs by industry

Objectives (a) and (b) were achieved through selective development of infrastructure  and selective staff appointments in areas of emerging technologies (e.g. bio-medical engineering), who, in turn, are attracting increasing number of research grants and contracts. Three new laboratories were built for Fluids, Thermodynamics, and Structures, supported with an extensive new workshop. Objective (c) was achieved partly through a number of spinout companies, notably in bio-medical engineering.

Over the assessment period, as part of a deliberate strategy, there has been a substantial intake of Early Career Researchers to the UoA28: 11 of the 28 Category A staff being submitted took up their first academic appointment since 1/8/2003, seven of them in a major new research area of bio-medical engineering. In parallel with the rapid growth in bio-medical engineering, established links to clinical practice have been strengthened through IOMS, based at the Royal National Orthopaedics Hospital (RNOH) at Stanmore (Blunn, Coathup, Ferguson-Pell, Goodship, Taylor); through ADSIS based at the Royal Free Hospital, London (Seifalian), and, through the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering (DMPAB) (Cottenden). The inclusion of the researchers from IOMS, ADSIS, and DMPAB in this submission reflects this close collaboration in bio-medical engineering, including joint research student supervision and research grants.

The research being submitted is organised into three Research Groups:

Marine Research Group
A distinctive strength of this Group is the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Unit based at UCL for the last 40 years. Fully integrated within the departmental research structures, the Unit is able to draw on the deep expertise of UCL. An exciting impact of the Unit’s contribution is the research and concept design behind the world’s first ocean-going trimaran ship.

Bio-Medical Engineering Research Group
During the assessment period, this Group’s focus has changed radically from a traditional structural integrity of materials activity to bio-medical engineering. Ultrasonics research, with a bio-medical focus, has increased.

Thermofluids Research Group
We are participants in the UK’s first Virtual Research Centre in Combustion Engines established with substantial support from the EPSRC, Jaguar Cars, and Shell Oil in 2003. Pioneering research on combustion of future sustainable fuels derived from bio-mass and novel research on hydrogen combustion in an optically accessible engine are funded by EPSRC, BP Oil, Lotus Engineering, and Delph.

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Mechanical Engineering (pdf 228Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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