For the last ten years, Lloyd’s Register Foundation has been helping long-term grant partners TWI Ltd establish a global hub for research into structural integrity, one of the building blocks of safe construction. The National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built research facility at TWI in Cambridge, attracting postgraduate student researchers from all over the world. Our grant has so far funded 83 students in obtaining doctorates at NSIRC, all of whom have been mentored by global experts in this safety-critical field.
After completing the PhD programme or masters courses at NSIRC, many of these students are taking their expertise back to their home countries, where a lack of expertise in this area can lead to catastrophic accidents and loss of life. Structural integrity is an engineering discipline that looks at the properties of materials used in construction. It plays a fundamental role in fostering greater safety and health - when it goes wrong, catastrophes can occur.
NSIRC’s work is fully aligned with the drivers of ‘impact and excellence’ which apply to all of the research we support. It’s the largest research facility in the UK for the field of structural integrity research, and the hub of a global network uniting the efforts of world-class researchers. NSIRC works with leading universities in the field, ensuring the highest academic standards and esteem from the academic community.
NSIRC’s research is generating significant advances in structural integrity knowledge and innovation that will enhance the safety and integrity of critical infrastructure. This develops capacity in developing countries to assess the risks of new technologies before applying them to engineering solutions, helping to keep people safe and ensure that high-hazard assets perform as required.
NSIRC Director and TWI Director of Innovation and Skills, Professor Tat-Hean Gan said, “In setting up NSIRC, what LRF and TWI created is the template for a new kind of University, one that swiftly reacts to calls from industry for fundamental research, and at the same time provides the highest standards of academia with resulting industrial impact.”
NSIRC’s objectives are to advance research into: safe operation of products and structures; development of innovative, fit-for-purpose technologies and design rules, and engineering solutions for long-term asset management. The current crop of students are working on specific areas including risk-based inspection, engineering critical assessment, non-destructive testing, structural health and condition monitoring and health management for use in industrial applications.
Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds NSIRC PhD students to work with experts from academia and industry, developing experience and knowledge that will lead to a safer built environment to benefit people all over the world. They’re producing world-leading engineering research on additive manufacturing, composites and polymers, and structural integrity, amongst others.
Marie-Salomé Duval-Chanéac is a Lloyd’s Register Foundation funded student currently in the second year of her PhD studies with NSIRC and the University of Southampton. She’s studying the relationship between microstructure, property and fatigue behaviour of components manufactured through multiple materials additive manufacturing (MMAM). This method of additive manufacture enables ‘designed materials,’ which significantly enhances the existing flexibility offered by traditional additive manufacture.
Another student who’s benefited from the Foundation grant is Faris Nafiah, who is carrying out research into pulsed eddy current, an emerging non-destructive testing technique that detects corrosion in pipelines.
“Say I had taken the ‘safe’ option, I would have regretted never doing a PhD,” says Faris. “I can’t overemphasise the amount of appreciation I have for my sponsors, Lloyd's Register Foundation, for the PhD opportunity, as well as the NSIRC team.”
Advising other students to take up the opportunity, he added: “The experience will definitely give you various insight on how research can fit into industrial applications, and in the process, transform you into an industrial-minded researcher.”