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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


PhD: Large Reconfigurable Structures for Marine Applications

Department :
Mechanical Engineering
Duration of Studentship :
Application Deadline :
31 Aug 2021

Vacancy Information

The marine environment is particularly challenging as structures and systems are constantly moving and exposed to large and varying external forces. This can lead to any device with moving parts and reconfigurability being very heavy.  An alternative is to use novel concepts such as compliant materials and techniques from the fields of soft robotics and architecture in place of conventional actuators and rigid bodies. There is flexibility in the research area, depending on discussion with the supervisors, but the main interest is in launch and recovery systems. These generally consist of; inboard handling systems; an ocean interface such as a crane, davit or ramp; some outboard device to interface with the smaller craft.

Studentship Description

This research would focus on design and simulation of large devices with a hybrid structure including a soft skin, rigid and semi-rigid components and pneumatic / fluidic actuators, to explore the viability and scalability of the concept with regards to strength and weight and the adaptability of resulting devices to multiple types of offboard vehicles.

Person Specification

Person specification: Final year degree students and graduates of naval architecture, marine or mechanical engineering are particularly encouraged to apply. A first or upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution, or a recognised taught Master’s degree. Relevant work experience may also be taken into consideration.


UK nationals or EU passport holders with settled status or pre-settled status with 3 years residency in UK/EEA/Gibraltar/Switzerland.

Further Details

Eligible applicants should contact Dr. Rachel Jean Pawling ( for an informal discussion before applying. Please attach your current CV and a transcript of your degree level exam results (listing all subjects taken and their corresponding grades/marks) and a cover letter stating how the project meets your research interests.

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