News and events 2011

Professor Wuqiang Yang elevated to Fellow of the IEEE

Professor Wuqiang Yang

Professor Wuqiang Yang in the School has been elevated to Fellow of the IEEE for contributions to Electrical Capacitance Tomography.

This technology has been used for visualisation of industrial processes and multiphase flow measurement in industry, including oil and gas, pharmaceutical, clean coal combustion and homeland security.

Fellow of the IEEE is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed 0.1% of the total voting membership. Fellow of the IEEE is the highest grade of membership and is recognised by the technical community as a prestigious honour and an important career achievement. 321 individuals have been elevated to Fellows of the IEEE for 2011.

Professor Yang obtained his BEng, MSc and PhD degrees from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Since 1991, he has been working with University of Manchester (formerly UMIST). He received 1997 IEE/NPL Wheatstone Measurement Prize, 1997 Honeywell Prize, 2000 IEE Ayrton Premium and 2009 IET Innovation Award Finalist. Since 2010 he is an IEEE IM Society Distinguished Lecturer. Professor Yang is also a Fellow of IET, Fellow of InstMC and Chartered Engineer. His biography is in Who's Who in the World.

The Northern Way – how the North can become the world's nuclear base

Dalton Nuclear Institute

The North of England has the opportunity to become one of the world’s leading nuclear manufacturing hubs, creating many thousands of new jobs and generating substantial economic growth for the UK, according to a University of Manchester report.

Commissioned by the Dalton Nuclear Institute, the country's leading academic nuclear research capability, the report highlights the opportunity for the Government to invest in the vast potential of the region to meet the demands of the UK's nuclear new build and use this as a springboard for providing goods and services to the £300bn global nuclear sector.

The report, recently completed for the Northern Way Development Agency, provides a comprehensive assessment of how Northern England, with its established nuclear excellence in heavy component manufacturing, consultancy and maintenance services, operation and world-class research and development, is ideally placed to capitalise on civil nuclear new build.

Already a world-leading centre for the nuclear supply chain with more than 50% of the UK's nuclear workforce, the North also contains the UK's full fuel cycle capability, uranium conversion and enrichment, fuel fabrication, generation, spent fuel reprocessing, waste treatment and storage and decommissioning.

The global market for new nuclear build is estimated at more than £800bn over the next 20 to 30 years. The UK new nuclear build programme is estimated at £40bn, with the demand potential to support the rebalancing of the UK economy.

The report claims investment in the North of England would create at least 10,000 new jobs and secure many others in manufacturing and other professional services at a time when there are cut backs in other sectors.  Many of the skills in sectors such as aerospace and oil and gas could complement the nuclear skills already available and pump billions of pounds into the UK economy.

Headlines from the report include:

  • Business opportunities in the UK from civil nuclear new build are high.
  • Many new job opportunities in the building, manufacturing and service sectors are possible with the right leadership and investment.
  • Northern England has substantial nuclear capability and is well positioned to realise the opportunities.
  • Government needs to adopt a policy that will realise an effective supply chain within the next 18 months and should mobilise agencies and trade bodies to coordinate action across UK industry.

The existing world supply chains of the very largest components, such as pressure vessels, lack resilience, with supply concentrated across two main players – France and Japan. With the right level of investment this presents an opportunity for the UK, the report claims.

The report argues that strategic leadership and coordination are both needed to exploit the commercial opportunities and calls for a 'Nuclear Cluster' to be formed in the North in the same way that has proved successful in developing collaborative networks of companies in the process industries and in aerospace.

As the study coincided with the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in March, the authors felt it was important to incorporate the key findings from the catastrophic event to show how they may impinge upon this global nuclear renaissance and hence the potential impact they may have with respect to the UK's own nuclear build programme.

Despite the repercussions from Fukushima, the nuclear new-build renaissance continues in countries such as China, India and the UK with 60 reactors under construction, 155 planned and a further 338 proposed.

Nuclear energy is being backed in many countries to provide low carbon energy solutions, energy independence, security of supply and protection against price volatility from fossil fuels.

The report claims it represents a significant business opportunity, but the lack of any UK new reactor build over the last two decades means the nuclear absorptive capability is not as strong as it used to be.

The authors argue that the UK nuclear supply chain needs to be developed within the next 18 months, so that companies are in a position to compete and win business at the start of the UK new build programme.

Professor Peter Storey said: "The UK Government and nuclear industry are faced with a choice – to do nothing and possibly watch the UK nuclear supply chain lose business and economic growth opportunities to overseas- based firms, or to develop a national policy to coordinate the development of UK nuclear supply chain and position UK based businesses for economic growth in the UK and overseas markets.

"This report makes it clear that commercial opportunities do exist. With a national policy that is coordinated with the nuclear industry, these opportunities can be realised."

Manchester jet engine project takes FLITES

The University of Manchester is leading a £2.7m research project to create a key component in reducing jet engine emissions.

FLITES (Fibre-Laser Imaging of Gas Turbine Exhaust Species) aims to establish a world-leading capability to map several exhaust species from aeroplanes using tomographic imaging.

Together with academic and commercial partners including the Universities of Southampton and Strathclyde, Rolls-Royce, Shell, Covesion, Fianium and OptoSci, Manchester academics will lead the four-year study focussing on carbon dioxide emissions and how they can be lowered.

The researchers aim to produce the first-ever images of the distribution of chemical species in aero-engine exhaust plumes. They will use novel fibre lasers developed at the University of Southampton and new electronic architectures for spectroscopic measurement from the University of Strathclyde. 

FLITES will build upon the expertise of engineers at the University who have already used tomographic imaging to view fuel in automotive engine combustion chambers.

The FLITES team has been awarded £1.8m by EPSRC, with the companies providing more than £500,000 in support.

It is expected that the research project will enhance turbine-related research and development capacity in both academia and industry by opening up access to exhaust plume chemistry.

It will underpin a new phase of low-net-carbon development that is underway in aviation, based on bio-derived fuels, and which entails extensive research in turbine engineering, turbine combustion, and fuel product formulation.

Professor Hugh McCann, who is leading the project, said: "There has never been any research using turbine emissions data to determine the condition and behaviour of internal engine components, especially the combustor.

"FLITES will open a new door to penetrate the complex phenomena that dictate the performance and limitations of advanced aero engines, and will help to really pin down the performance benefits of novel biofuels."

£10,000 prize for Talking Underwater Robots

Simon Watson with underwater talking robots

Many congratulations to our current PhD student, Simon Watson on winning the Leslie H Paddle Scholarship of £10,000. Simon started his research at the University of Manchester in September 2008 and the title of his thesis is "Mobile Platforms for Underwater Sensor Networks". He is expected to complete this work in March 2012.

Simon Watson said: "The award of the IET scholarship is a great honour and will allow me to see my project through to its next stage of development. It will support me in terms of both my academic and professional development and also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness of my research to the wider engineering community".

Simon's wireless robots help workers to monitor radioactive nuclear storage ponds where potentially lethal material is left to cool. They take measurements, such as temperature, radiation levels or actual pictures, engineers then use these to build up a number of 3D maps of the ponds which can identify problem areas such as where the protective shell of a fuel rod is damaged. The robots could greatly help to improve safety in nuclear power plants, such as the badly earthquake damaged Fukushima plant in Japan. The work is also an exploration of how underwater robots can be used to decommission old nuclear power stations.

IET Awards and Prizes Manager, Linda Deleay said: "IET scholarships are an endorsement of skill and hard work. I would like to congratulate each scholarship recipient for the contribution they have made, and will make, to improve the lives of those around us and the world in which we live."

Professor Missous made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Professor Mohamed Missous

Professor Mohamed Missous, from the School of EEE, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng).

His professional activities are centred on the growth of complex multi-layer semiconductor films by the technique of Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE).

Over the years he has concentrated, with considerable success, on establishing practical approaches and techniques required to meet stringent doping and thickness control, to sub monolayer accuracy, for a variety of advanced quantum devices.

Further work has involved working on amplifiers and Analogue to Digital converters for a range of applications including the Square Kilometre Array project (SKA).

Close industrial involvement with leading players in optoelectronic and microwaves is key to his work, including the design of Intelligent Cruise Control systems in cars.

Professor Missous has given keynote speeches in many of the major gatherings of his disciplines, including Terahertz technology, infrared sensing, Molecular Beam Epitaxy and ultra high speed devices and has over 190 publications in the field.

He also co-founded Integrated Compound Semiconductors and Advanced Hall sensors to exploit advanced semiconductors devices in ultra high sensitivity position sensing, Terahertz imaging, mid infrared detection, automotive car radars and radio astronomy.

Commenting on the recognition, Professor Missous said: "I am obviously delighted and honoured to be elected a Fellow of the RA Engineering.

"However this is very much a team effort and I would like to pay tribute to my past and present PhDs and Postdoctoral Research Associates and my wonderful technical support staff without whom none of these achievements would have been possible".

Multiple New Awards won within the School of EEE

The School has continued its great run on winning awards over the past few months. The hard work that everyone has put in is greatly appreciated and rightfully acknowledged. Huge congratulations go to Mr Peter Green who has been awarded as a Finalist in the Engineering Subject Centre Teaching Awards, after being shortlisted back in October last year.

Two of our postgraduate students have been honoured with prestigious scholarships from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for £10,000 each. Allowing them to carry on with their research and learning through EEE.

One of our students, Tudor Balan has won a one year placement with EoN after finishing in the final 10 for Engineering in the the 2011 TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Award, out of 120 undergraduates from over 30 universities.

Congratulations go to the Mechanical, Electronic, PCB and Teaching Laboratory Technician Team in the School on being awarded the PSS and Academic Services larger team award. The team were presented with their award at a ceremony on 1st July.

Also congratulations to one of our third year undergraduate students, Mr Hassan Hakim Khalili, who has been awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award: EPS Student of the Year 2011. Hassan received his award from Dame Nancy Rothwell at a ceremony on 1st July 2011.

This prestigious medal was also awarded to a EEE undergraduate in 2010 and demonstrates the continued high quality of our students.

Let's hope this recognition for all the hard work everyone within the department puts in continues and the School keeps growing, adapting and pushing the boundaries of EEE.

Arago named the UK's most promising University spin-out company

Arago Technology, a spin-out company from Manchester University and EPL Composite Solutions Ltd, was only incorporated earlier this year but is already stealing the limelight after winning twice at this year's Energy Innovation Awards for its Composite Cross-Arm.

For more information go to the Professional Engineering website or visit the Arago Website for further information.

Geoff Rubner wins the Teaching Excellence Awards 2011

'Teaching Excellence Awards' focus on achievement in relation to teaching over recent years and involve a grant of £5,000 for recipients to further develop their teaching or their career. The university rewards and recognises excellence in teaching and in supporting student learning through its promotion procedures.

Geoff is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with 25 years experience of teaching at Manchester. His high teaching load incorporates a wide range of blended learning techniques. He makes a particular effort to structure his units in a way that ensures he gets to know his students and their strengths and weaknesses.

Geoff has been an early adopter of technology in learning and had used auto-marking techniques since 2003, allowing instant feedback on submitted work. He has also received funding to explore the use of mobile phones as 'clickers' to improve student engagement and interaction in large classes. This project was presented at the ED-MEDIA 2010 conference in Toronto as a co-authored paper.

In addition to his own use of eLearning he is also a school champion, encouraging others to adopt the latest technology to enhance the student learning experience.

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