Non-Destructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring of composites

One of the grand unsolved challenges of global aerospace/wind energy industries is to preserve high safety whilst reducing maintenance downtime and operation costs of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) composite components. The research work carried out during this 3.5-year PhD studentship aims to address this grand challenge and provide a step-change in the non-destructive inspection of FRP composites.

Start date

1 July 2022


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

Fully funded for fees, stipend and £1,000 pa for training, conferences and consumables.

Funding for this project is available to UK and non-UK students if highly qualified.


With the growing interest to use laminar composite materials in aerospace, automotive and wind energy industries, much attention is devoted to the development of rapid, accurate and cost-effective built-in systems for the detection and evaluation of structural defects. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems based on acoustic/ultrasonic wave propagation have been developed to provide an early warning of the damage occurrence, resulting into safer structures and operative costs saving. SHM ultrasonic systems have a common basis with Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) techniques. Indeed, several standard NDE methods can be converted in SHM techniques by integrating a network of ultrasonic transducers on the monitored structure. However, there is still a big gap between a laboratory based set-up for SHM methods and certified industrially used NDE inspection systems.

This project will address the required advances to close this gap and develop in-situ SHM systems for the detection and imaging of structural damage composite materials. Ultrasonic methodologies and newly designed phononic crystal structures will be used to characterise different damage scenarios and identify impact events and their magnitude. The PhD studentship will focus on a topic within this broad scope, according to the skills and interests of the candidate. The student will contribute to the ongoing research at the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Surrey under the supervisor of Dr Francesco Ciampa, and have access to a highly equipped SHM and NDE lab dedicated to research.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) in aerospace, electrical/electronics, civil/structural engineering, material science or physics. Strong background in acoustic/ultrasonic wave propagation, numerical analysis (Abaqus, ANSYS, LS-Dyna, Comsol, etc.) and excellent mathematical and experimental skills are required. Signal processing and programming experience is an advantage (e.g., MATLAB, Fortran, Python, LabView).

For EU and international candidates (non-native English speaker) there is a mandatory English requirement certified by the IELTS exam with a minimum overall band score of 6.5 and no less than 6.0 in any element.

How to apply

Applications can be made through our Engineering Materials PhD course page. Please state the studentship title and supervisor on your application.

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Francesco Ciampa
11A AB 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 688903

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.