Royal Academy of Engineering senior research fellowship award for Strathclyde and Babcock International Group collaboration

The University of Strathclyde and Babcock International Group have been awarded a prestigious national research accolade to jointly develop a ground-breaking technology application.

Dr Charles MacLeod, of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering, is one of only eight recipients announced today as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships programme.

Babcock is the industry lead for the project which will focus on real-time ultrasonic weld inspection and underpins a wider industrial academic partnership announced last year to deliver innovation through world-class projects.

Each awardee is tasked with establishing a world-leading research group in their engineering/technology field as part of the programme, which aims to enhance collaborations between academia and business.

As a Senior Research Fellow, Dr MacLeod will work with Babcock on sensor-driven automated high-integrity welding using ultrasonic imaging to improve the integrity of welded joints.

Welding – and the successful fusion of welded joints – is a critical manufacturing process utilised in multiple international sectors including energy, construction and transport. Babcock, as a leading UK engineering organisation, is routinely trusted to deliver high-integrity welds in challenging applications across the defence and nuclear sectors.

Dr MacLeod said: “By revolutionising the automated welding of high-value components, this fellowship can empower the work Babcock is doing in this field and, more broadly, help tackle key national societal energy and defence challenges, ensuring we lead with globally-competitive, globally-unique, high-integrity manufacturing.

“In doing so we want to propel UK manufacturing forward, delivering internationally leading growth, jobs and efficiencies along with inspiring next generation inter-disciplinary engineers.

“I am truly excited to lead this collaboration through answering and addressing fundamental research questions, generating practical manufacturing innovation and change and then translating this to industry to deliver real-world impact, all increasing UK and wider society prosperity.”

Babcock’s Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Dr Jon Hall, said: “We believe innovation is often borne out of collaboration and Dr MacLeod’s concept of in-process ultrasonic control is highly visionary and hugely relevant to our future business growth and sustainability.

“Given the scale and nature of our business, we are often dealing with critical and complex engineering challenges but through this research opportunity with Strathclyde, we will be providing access to state of the art large-scale facilities, materials, high-value specialised equipment and our own experts who will work alongside regulators and lead customers to drive the deployment and commercialisation of this technology.”

Professor Karen Holford, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University and Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee said: “It is very encouraging that one of the Academy’s longest established funding programmes—now in its 35th year—received among its strongest set of applications to date and the number of awards we have made this time reflects this.

“I remain endlessly impressed at just how creative engineers are at investigating solutions to real-world problems and these projects will deliver societal benefit not only in the UK but also globally. The partnerships that support innovative engineering like this are vital to our future health and prosperity and the Academy values them very highly.”