CDT students visit BAe Systems

On the 7th May 2019 a group of CDT students from all cohorts visited the Samlesbury site of BAe Systems, a high technology state of the art manufacturing and aerospace facility.  

Outside the BAe Systems building at Samlesbury
Outside BAe Systems at Samlesbury

The theme for this visit was to see how companies such as BAe are adopting new materials such as graphene and other 2D materials in their products and applications, and how they work with the university to investigate solutions and develop research. There were talks and demonstrations by experts, tours of lab/development/production areas, and an opportunity for each student to give a one minute presentation on the nature of their research to the company.

Year 2 student Bob McMaster and year 1 student David Sanderson described their experience of the visit:

Bob –

'Tuesday 7th May 2019 saw members from various cohorts of the Graphene NOWNANO CDT enjoy a visit to BAe Systems at Samlesbury in Lancashire, near Preston. The full day included a guided tour of the facilities during which we were able to see the fascinating work that goes into the manufacture and assembly of the UK's current frontline jet fighter, the Typhoon, or Eurofighter as it was previously known, as well as the latest fighter that is just about to enter service, the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). As you would expect for a factory making state-of-the-art jet fighters, strict security is in place and access was only allowed once our identities had been verified and our passes issued. Between tours of the Samlesbury site and just after a buffet lunch, BAE engineers give a presentation on areas of research they are interested, such as composite materials and wanted to hear about our research at Manchester. All members of the CDT were then invited to give a short prepared presentation to BAE engineers giving a brief outline on the research work we were all undertaking. This was very well received by BAE with a number of questions afterwards and hopefully will lead to further collaboration between BAE and CDT students.'

David –

'This visit focused on a large scale engineering manufacturing operation. During the visit we toured around the machining, fabrication and assembly processes associated with the Eurofighter Typhoon and F35 military aircraft. With regards to graphene and 2D materials, a number of potential uses caught my attention, such as self-sensing components that can sit within composite materials, very much aligned with previous interests in structural health monitoring (SHM). It is clear that SHM is already very much core to what BAE builds into their systems; for example, strain sensors already give feedback on actual load cycle duty rather than flying hours duty and maintenance is now based on the former, rather than the latter which can be overengineered or unsafe depending on assumptions. The ability to tune electromagnetic properties of an aircraft skin for stealth purposes is of additional interest. There were also potential uses for local energy generation such as the use of thermoelectric effects for generating onboard power amongst the panoply of research topics discussed. Overall, it was a really interesting visit and we were exposed to a large-scale manufacturing operation which has evolved significantly over the last 20 years.'

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