Wed, 01 February, 2023
The new academic year, 2022-2023, began with an excellent opportunity for two PhD students to achieve research breakthroughs while increasing the possibility of leaving their mark on the industrial world. The National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), established by founding partners TWI, Lloyd’s Register Foundation and bp, has been offering such PhD programmes since its inception in 2012.
In this case, the doors to further, specialised experience and in-depth knowledge opened up for two students, Fivos Simopoulos and Georgios Kampourakis, each of whom had already achieved an MSc. Fivos and Georgios started their research journey in September 2022 at the Hellenic Mediterranean University (HMU) in Crete. Associate Professor, Dr. Lazaros Tzounis of HMU is the Academic Supervisor for both students, providing valuable, regular assessment of their research as well as guidance and encouragement with their studies. Dr Panagiotis Chatzakos, Regional Manager of TWI Hellas, is acting as their Industrial Supervisor. In combination, this nurtures a successful relationship between students and NSIRC while communicating industry needs and identifying development prospects. Both supervisors will make sure that the PhDs are aligned with LRF’s Foresight Reviews ,which detail the strategic priorities of LRF that can provide insights to the research community regarding engineering, safety-related challenges.
Fivos Simopoulos has a BSc in Physics from the University of Ioannina and a Master's Degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, HMU with a focus on ‘Screen Printed Thermoelectric Generators (TEGS) based on Organic and Carbon Allotrope Nano-Materials’. In his PhD thesis, Fivos will work on 3D printed, multi-functional, short, fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites with nanoadditives, towards hierarchical, multi-scale structures with controlled mechanical and electrical properties. The first part of his thesis will be devoted to the development of novel thermoplastic and photopolymerisable (thermoset) polymer nanocomposites, mainly using 1D and 2D nanomaterials for fused filament fabrication (FFF) and stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing.
The second part of his PhD thesis will be entirely devoted to testing the 3D printed FRPs’ multifunctional character, manufactured via FFF or SLA processes. Successful completion of Fivos’ PhD will generate novel scientific knowledge in advanced FRP structural materials, additive manufacturing (AM) and inherent structural component properties, thereby contributing to LRF’s structural integrity and systems performance Foresights.
On his PhD, Fivos commented “This PhD will offer my career a unique opportunity to explore a multi-disciplinary scientific topic, combining applied physics and materials science with mechanical engineering and 3D printing manufacturing methods, towards advanced and multi-functional structures for emerging sectors like aerospace, aeronautics and robotics.”
Similarly, Georgios Kampourakis has a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from HMU and a Master’s degree in Advanced Mechanical Engineering from the University of Leicester with a thesis on the ‘Study of Accelerated Junction Degradation of Biodegradable Coronary Artery Stent’. His PhD thesis is titled ‘3D Printed Continuous Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Composites with Unique Structural and Functional properties.” First, Georgios will commit to manufacturing continuous FRP composites by 3D printing, then perform tests onto the 3D printed FRP composites through mechanical testing, morphological investigation, fractography and thermogravimetric analysis. On successful completion of his PhD, Georgios will have produced technical results that could lead to innovations in structural integrity and systems performance as well as in robotics and autonomous systems.
As Georgios points out “This PhD will expand my career as a Mechanical Engineer to new and advanced 3D structures and components enabled by 3D printing with unique, mechanical, sensing and electrical properties. New 3D printed FRPs will be manufactured by combining my background in engineering and 3D printing process optimisation with enhanced, self-diagnostic mechanisms and inherent structural health monitoring (SHM) of lightweight parts.”
Like Fivos’, Georgios’ PhD has the ability to contribute to LRF’s foresights in more than one thematic area.
Both PhD students are delighted to have this opportunity to develop their career paths through the support of NSIRC and HMU, while simultaneously contributing to widening the industrial ecosystem with unprecedented research advancements.