CDT success to support next generation of scientists and engineers

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The University will train cohorts of PhD students in key areas of digital chemistry, net zero maritime, nuclear and fusion power thanks to an investment of more than £14 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The University has been successful in securing funding for two new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and is a partner in two CDTs that will receive renewed funding.

Professor Wiebe Van Der Hoek, Executive Pro Vice-Chancellor for the University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, said: “I am delighted that we will be leading two new Centres for Doctoral Training that will support the next generation of science and engineering PhD students in priority areas for the University, the region and the UK.  We are also a lead partner in two Centres that have been awarded renewed support, which indicates our collaborative approach and wide participation across the scheme.”

 New Centres

The new EPSRC CDT in Digital and Automated Materials Chemistry, led by Professor Alessandro Troisi, will produce next generation researchers in digital and automated materials chemistry.

Students will learn how use digital tools including AI, algorithms, robotics to solve materials chemistry problems such as design, synthesis and characterization.  This new expertise will accelerate innovation and contribute to addressing the challenges of sustainability and net zero.

Supported by a range of industrial and academic partners, the new Centre will be delivered at the University’s Materials Innovation Factory (MIF) which is pioneering the use of AI, robotics and machine learning to support materials discovery. The MIF is also co-hosting the UK’s new £12M AI hub for Chemistry.

The new EPSRC CDT in Net Zero Maritime Energy Solutions (N0MES) is led by the University of Liverpool in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University.

Through N0MES, students will be trained in a broad range of net zero energy issues and develop the skills needed to identify, understand, assess and deliver solutions to engineering and environmental challenges in the maritime energy sector.

Led by Professor John Bridgeman from the University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Centre involves regional, national and international partners who will co-create PhD projects focused on a wide range of net zero maritime challenges such as maritime-based renewable energy, offshore to onshore energy distribution and environmental impacts of renewable energy generation.

 CDTs with Liverpool as a lead partner

The University is a partner in two existing CDTS that have received continuation funding from EPSRC.

The SATURN (Skills and Training Underpinning a Renascence in Nuclear) CDT will provide high quality research training to researchers to meet the skills gap required in providing sustainable and reliable clean energy through nuclear.

SATURN is led by the University of Manchester alongside five other partner universities (Liverpool, Leeds, Lancaster, Strathclyde, and Sheffield).  PhD projects, which will be developed with industry partners, cover areas including nuclear materials, new reactor technologies, nuclear forensics and environmental and geological sciences. Professor Maulik Patel is the Liverpool lead for SATURN.

The University is a partner in the Fusion Power CDT which will prepare research leaders to energise the UK fusion industry and drive forward fusion power plant innovation & development.

Dr Kirsty McKay, from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, is the University lead for the Fusion Power CDT, which is led by York University and involves six universities alongside private companies, UK & international labs and government agencies.

The CDTs are part of an investment totalling nearly £1billion in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills announced today by the UK Government.

 Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “As innovators across the world break new ground faster than ever, it is vital that government, business and academia invests in ambitious UK talent, giving them the tools to pioneer new discoveries that benefit all our lives while creating new jobs and growing the economy.

“By targeting critical technologies including artificial intelligence and future telecoms, we are supporting world class universities across the UK to build the skills base we need to unleash the potential of future tech and maintain our country’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge research and development.”