My name is Ben and I'm a 2nd year PhD student in
Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester. I have always been interested in aeroplanes
and space for as long as I can remember so studying Aerospace Engineering at
University was an easy choice for me having studied Physics, Chemistry, Maths
and Further Maths at A-Level. I
completed a four year integrated Master's at the University of Manchester in
2014 before beginning my PhD in 2015. My
research concerns the simulation of characteristics of blood flow through
diseased arteries. By modelling these
characteristics we can begin to understand why these diseases, such as the
growth of aneurysms, occur.
The main focus of my research is improving the criteria for
when preventative surgery should take place for patients with an Abdominal
Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). An aneurysm
occurs when the artery begins to expand and swell, weakening the artery wall
and can lead to a rupture. Due to the
amount of blood travelling through the aorta, 90% of patients who have a
ruptured AAA die. As a result, it seems
sensible to perform the preventative surgery even if there is only a low risk
of rupture. However, AAAs mostly occur
in men over the age of 65, for who surgery is more dangerous than the average
person and shouldn't be taken lightly.
Therefore a compromise must be found between the two risks.
The current criteria for surgery is based upon the maximum
diameter of the aneurysm, found using ultrasound similar to that used for pregnancy
scans, is greater than 5.5cm for men and 5.0cm for women. However, this isn't patient specific as it
does not take into account the weight, height or family history of the patient. My research, working with Wythenshawe
Hospital and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of
Manchester, is looking to improve this criteria by taking the images obtained
from the ultrasound, building a 3D geometry from them and then simulating the
blood flow through the aneurysm to assess the risk of rupture for the
patient. The aim is to have the entire
process automated so that it can be done quickly by the doctor to give a very
fast decision which will hopefully reduce the number of patients who have
unnecessary surgery while also reducing the number who die from the aneurysm
rupturing. We have a lot of work to do
before it becomes clinical practice but the results so far have been promising.
The research I have been working on during my PhD isn't what
is normally associated with an Aerospace Engineer at first glance. However, I am able to use a lot of the same
theory I learnt during my first degree and apply it to a new application,
showing the diversity of career available to an Engineer.
For updates on my research activities, follow me on Twitter:
Or visit my website www.about.me/benowen
More information on Aerospace Engineering can be found at www.aerosociety.com
Or general engineering at www.theiet.org/
Here is a fun video of the type of projects you will be
involved in if you study Aerospace Engineering at the University of
Hello! My name is Asad and I’m a
PhD student at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the
University of Manchester. Within my PhD, I work in the relatively recent field
of nuclear fusion. More specifically, I look at the effects of plasma damage
and neutron irradiation (both known phenomenon that occur within nuclear
fusion) on materials that could be used to build a potential fusion reactor.
A little bit about my background
first. Before I embarked on my PhD, I completed a Master of Engineering (MEng)
in Mechanical Engineering with a minor focus on Nuclear Engineering. I also did
some part time study in mathematics and research projects within fluid
mechanics. Of the latter, a noteworthy one is that I constructed a mathematical
model of the acoustics of a banjo!
Science has always intrigued
mankind. Some of the foremost questions we have been obsessed with are the
“Where did we come from?”
“Why are we here?”
“What do we do?”
No matter who you ask, you will
realise that we still don’t really know the answers to these; whether we look
for philosophical reasoning or scientific. We search high and low for answers.
Our universe is at the centre of such research. And at the centre of our
universe: the sun.
The sun can be considered a giant
ball of energy. The manner in which this energy is generated is referred to as
nuclear fusion. As the human species observed this, we felt the urge to exploit
the process to aid our need for energy, in order to survive on a world where
resources are rapidly depleting.
What exactly is nuclear fusion?
The answer is a result of work done by pioneering scientists such as Ernest
Rutherford, Pierre Curie and Marie Curie. We find that certain atoms of
elements undergo interesting transitions. We have been able to exploit these,
such as nuclear fission which is currently a dominant process to generate
electricity. Within fission, we find that under the right conditions, some of
the atoms will split and become smaller releasing energy in the process. Fusion
is the opposite; some atoms combine and through the process release energy. It
has been found that the energy released through fusion could potentially be
more sustainable, cleaner, and less fraught with the risks associated with the
energy generated through fission.
Thus we are now engaged in a
global technological race to be able to achieve the right conditions for fusion
on earth. Thus far we have managed to recreate the conditions. However, we
still haven’t managed to be able to maintain these for long enough, nor have we
been able to extract power from it. We have some ideas on how to achieve both.
One of the questions however is, do we have the materials to be able to do so?
This is where people like me come
in. Thus far I have spoken about how this is a relatively new process mingled
with a plethora of difficulties. Therefore, it will not be surprising when I
say that we don’t exactly have the appropriate facilities to be able to
entirely comprehend the extreme effects taking place. So how do we go about
solving the problem? Some people try and use proxies, alternative approaches
that in some way mimic certain effects we expect. Others try to use
computational techniques and our understanding of physics to paint a picture.
I’m involved in the latter. I use modelling and simulation to try and deduce what
we expect. It isn’t as simple as pushing a button however. One needs to be
aware of a lot of inter-related pieces of physics. Sometimes, we also find that
we don’t have the computational power to actually be able to process all of these
(surprising isn’t it given the progress in the field of IT). Sometimes my job is therefore to see which
processes are negligible. At other times, it is to check and draw conclusions
from the results of my simulations. To name a few of the techniques I use; I
use solvers for the neutron transport equation, binary collision approximation
and molecular dynamics. The last considers how atoms are likely to behave. This
generates some interesting perceptions of important chemical and atomic
I’ll stop here. I’ll end on a
note that the human race is currently engaged in very exciting things. But to
see this realised; we need young, ambitious and creative minds that are keen to
learn as well as try new things.
If you want any more information, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
To find out more about the chemical and atomic processes generated in molecular dynamics: http://lammps.sandia.gov/movies.html
A more comprehensive yet elementary guide on nuclear physics can be found at (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nuccon.html)
Here are also
some web links pertinent to what I have written:
Culham Center for Fusion Energy: http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/introduction.aspx
Nuclear Energy Agency: http://www.oecd-nea.org/workareas/
Fusion Center for Doctoral