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From NSIRC PhD to Arc Welding Project Leader: Dr Cui Er Seow

Thu, 27 January, 2022

TWI Project Leader Dr Cui Er Seow shares her experience from PhD student at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) to Project Leader at TWI in the last five years.

Cui’s research journey began during her undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol. She developed control programs to simulate elastic follow-up effects in stress rigs, which enabled the observation of crack propagation under various loading conditions. These projects sparked her interest in academic research and, after graduating with MEng (first class hons.), she continued her research journey as a PhD student at NSIRC and TWI. Her PhD project was funded by Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI, and supervised by Dr Harry Coules from the University of Bristol. 

During her PhD, Cui investigated the characteristics of arc-based additively manufactured nickel-based superalloys, specifically Alloy 625 and 718. These alloys are known for their high temperature strength and corrosion resistance, and are widely used in the aerospace, oil and gas, and nuclear industries. Her PhD research demonstrates that arc-based additively manufactured nickel-base superalloys can have macro-, meso- and micro-scale characteristics that are inherently different from their conventional equivalents. Therefore, consideration of microstructure and anisotropy is important in optimising and characterising the properties of these materials.

Cui has also published in high impact factor journals and presented at international conferences. She has won several awards during her PhD, such as the Armourers and Brasiers Travel Award 2018, best presenting author in the 2018 ASME PVP student paper competition (honourable mention category), runner-up for the 2018 TWI Industrial Impact Award, and runner-up in the 2019 and 2017 NSIRC annual conference oral and poster presentation competitions.

She has been a Project Leader since March 2020, in the Arcs Processes and Welding Engineering Section (AWE), Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Group. During this time, she has been involved in a variety of projects, including projects as part of the Core Research Programme such as arc-based additive manufacturing, European-funded projects such as WeldGalaxy, and Industrial Member-funded projects involving welding engineering support for repair of structures, as well as TWI’s software product development. She also actively engages in outreach and professional development activities. She is currently the secretary of The Welding Institute’s Technical Group 2 and a member of the Younger Member’s Committee.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my PhD experience at NSIRC and TWI. The industrial setting and world class facilities at TWI helped me carry out my research more effectively, and exposed me to the practicalities of the industrial world. I also had many opportunities to learn about current industrial challenges through workshops, webinars and technical meetings. I have also met incredibly talented people along this journey, who have inspired me to start a career in welding and joining technologies.”


Seow C E, Zhang J, Coules H E, Wu G, Jones C, et al. (2020) ‘Effect of crack-like defects on the fracture behaviour of Wire + Arc Additively Manufactured nickel-base Alloy 718’, Additive Manufacturing, 36, p. 101578. doi: 10.1016/j.addma.2020.101578.

Seow C E, Coules H E, Wu G, Khan R H U, Xu X, et al. (2019) ‘Wire + Arc Additively Manufactured Inconel 718: Effect of post-deposition heat treatments on microstructure and tensile properties’, Materials and Design, 183. doi: 10.1016/j.matdes.2019.108157.

Seow C E, Coules H and Khan R (2018) ‘Effect of Crack Orientation on Fracture Behaviour of Wire + Arc Additively Manufactured (WAAM) Nickel-Base Superalloy’, in American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pressure Vessels and Piping Division (Publication) PVP, p. V005T10A016. doi: 10.1115/pvp2018-84090.


The WeldGalaxy project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 822106.

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