School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

  • Simulation, Modelling and Systems Integration

    The research carried out in the Simulation, Modelling and Systems Integration research theme enables complex systems to be analysed, designed and predicted. The work is outwardly focused and looks to develop solutions, which provide economic and social benefits, to real problems. The work is underpinned by high quality fundamental research in mathematics and engineering.

    Expertise in dynamics, electronic instrumentation, engineering design, materials, stress analysis, mathematical and statistical methods and system reliability provide the multi-disciplinary approach required to provide solutions to real problems. The work is supported by industry, research councils and the public sector and is often carried out in collaboration with other departments within the faculty and with other faculties within the University.

  • Thin-Walled Structures research concentrates on the behaviour of scaffold and pallet rack structures.

    The research has been influential in the development of European standards in access scaffolds and pallet rack structures and has developed a state of the art second-order program for the analysis and design of pallet racks according to the FEM code.

    Doctoral Training Programme

    A multi-disciplinary programme providing a framework to develop the researchers of tomorrow, carrying out high quality research to develop the transport systems of the future.

    Autonomous Vehicles

    There are many projects underway such a wheel torque control, computer vision and gesture recognition to develop a vehicle that can think and react to visual and audio commands as well as what's happening in its surroundings.

    The use of remote vehicles working in tandem with the autonomous vehicle is being developed as a method of mapping terrain to enable the autonomous vehicle to make quicker and better decisions about best path direction.

    Human Robotic Interaction

    This project is looking to develop a robotic torso that can mimic real life human movements to enable clearer visual communication between it and human subjects.

    The eye movement, head movement and facial movements are going to be developed first and then work will start on arm and hand movements. The final aim of the project will be to use vision and sound with the robotic design to interact with humans as humans would interact with one another.

    The School has carried out research looking at the fatigue and strength of complex materials and components for well over 30 years, working closely with industry and supported by the government.

    Listed below are three current projects that show some of the diversity of the work undertaken.

    Multiple flaw detection using artificial neural networks

    The ability to detect damage automatically and at levels not perceivable by normal inspection has applications across a wide range of industrial sectors but particularly in fast processing environments such as the automotive industry. Many different techniques have been developed but difficulties still remain with regard to suitable experimental methods, signal processing and damage determination. In this work an artificial neural network based method has been developed to interpret ultrasonic A-scan signals that can indicate the presence, number, position and size of several flaws in steel components. The technique is being further developed to inspect components of more complex geometry and with multiple defects.

    Strain distribution in superconducting coils

    Knowledge of the strain distribution in superconducting coils is important as it affects the strength of the magnetic field and the amount of helium required to obtain the coil operating current. As the coil is energised any slight movements within the coil can create localised heating. This will make the coil non-superconducting which rapidly raises the temperature of the coil and boils off the liquid helium cooling agent. This means the coil needs to be re-cooled to start the energising process again, which is costly and time consuming.

    A better understanding of the real strains developed within coil manufacture would help with understanding what causes more quenches (helium boil off) to occur within some coils over others. To obtain low temperature strain information an experimental apparatus is being developed using moiré interferometry. This will enable full field displacements to be measured across the coil surface.

    Bearing versus bypass loading of composite joints

    Bearing versus Bypass loading occurs in multi-fastened joints and is of special interest to the aircraft industry that uses these types of joints to join dissimilar materials. There is limited experimental data detailing the effect of hole clearance, laminate lay-up, washer contact size and clamping force value on the maximum bearing versus bypass loads obtainable.

    In this work a special bearing versus bypass rig has been developed and a range of results have been obtained for a variety of composite layups. Numerical models have also been developed to better model bearing versus bypass failure. Future work is looking at the effect of fatigue loading.

    Applied Research in Vibration, Acoustics and Biodynamics

    High frequency noise and vibration: SEA-like approach

    Predicting interaction of vibrating components at higher frequencies using SEA-like approaches. Commercially available FE codes are exploited to extend the capability to develop response prediction methods.

    Vehicle discomfort prediction

    The project aims to produce integrated multi-disciplinary model to predict discomfort in a vehicle due to vibration. Suspension dynamic and biodynamic models are used. In-situ measurements performed to research and develop discomfort curves.

    Industrial noise and vibration

    A project on shock absorber is investigating knocking sound in order to improve NVH performance of vehicles. A method has been developed to robustly identify shock absorbers prone to create knocking sound.

    New concepts and models in reliability and risk

    Research highlights

    • Creating the foundations of the theory of repairable flow networks and networks with disturbed flows. High-speed algorithms for analysis, optimisation and control in real time of repairable flow networks.
    • Discovering the existence of closed and dominated flow loops in real networks and developing algorithms for their removal.
    • Revealing the drawbacks of the successive shortest-path strategy for minimising the transportation cost from multiple interchangeable origins to multiple destinations and developing the correct alternative.
    • Creating the foundations of risk-based reliability analysis – driven by the cost of system failure. Formulation of the principle of risk-based design.
    • Creating the theoretical foundations of the maximum risk reduction attained within limited risk-reduction resources.
    • Creating the theoretical foundations for evaluating the risk of unsatisfied random demand on a time interval.
    • A new reliability measure based on rolling failure-free operation periods.
    • Formulation and proof of the upper bound variance theorem regarding the exact upper bound of properties from sampling multiple sources.
    • Formulation and proof of the damage factorisation theorem – the necessary and sufficient condition for the validity of the Palmgren-Miner rule.
    • An equation for the probability of fracture controlled by random flaws for components with complex shape.
    • Theoretical and experimental proof that the Weibull distribution does not describe correctly the probability of failure of materials with flaws and a derivation of the correct alternative.
    • A general equation related to reliability dependent on the relative configurations of random variables.
    • Revealing the drawbacks of the maximum expected profit criterion in the case of risky prospects containing a limited number of risk-reward bets.

    Oxford Brookes has a long involvement with the development of biomedical instrumentation and imaging techniques. The group at Oxford Brookes is one of the most productive and long standing groups working on Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) worldwide and has made a number of important contributions to the theoretical and practical aspects of this problem. The reconstruction techniques and the Electrical Impedance Tomographs developed were tested in clinical trials in the Churchill and John Radcliffe Hospitals in Oxford. Novel current-mode design techniques are applied not only to EIT, but also to other areas of medical instrumentation such as a new design for Electrical Impedance Cardiography (EIG) and integrated circuit pH sensors based on Ion Sensitive Field Effect Transistors (ISFET) technology. Closely related is also the research on Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), a means of producing contractions in muscles, paralysed due to central nervous system lesions, by means of electrical stimulation, with important practical applications as FES rowing and the 'bladder button'.

    Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT)

    EIT is a technology developed to image the electrical conductivity distribution of a conductive medium. It is of interest because of its low cost and also because the electrical conductivity gives direct information about the internal composition of the conductive medium. The technique works by performing simultaneous measurements of direct or alternating electric currents and voltages on the boundary of an object. These are the data used by an image reconstruction algorithm to determine the electrical conductivity distribution within the object. EIT is an imaging tool with important applications in medicine (detection of pulmonary emboli, monitoring of apnoea, monitoring of heart functional blood flood and breast cancer detection).

    • Non-iterative methods using integral equation formulations of EIT that determine the conductivity in a semi-analytic form.
    • Estimating the information contained in EIT measurements.
    • Medical applications of EIT – design, modelling and construction of an electrical probe for applying optimized electrical stimulation to living tissue.
    • Reconstruction algorithms for Electrical Impedance Mammography.

    Medical instrumentation for personalised healthcare

    The research area of biomedical electronic engineering is diverse and rapidly expanding. The scope spans personalised healthcare to improved systems in intensive care. There are many benefits to be unlocked and harnessed to produce products and equipment that can affect many people and industries. It is also seen as the next frontier in electronic engineering, generating much interest from many research groups worldwide.

    Analogue signal processing has a major part to play in the development of biomedical sensors. The key reason behind this is due to the low power requirements of today’s medical instrumentation with wearable and implantable systems being needed for continuous monitoring. Digital systems whilst always inherently more accurate are less desirable due to their higher power consumption, greater circuit complexity, and sufficient accuracy can be obtained with elegant novel analogue circuit design.

    Current work is in the following areas:

    • Instrumentation Amplifier (IA) Design with high common mode rejection ratio for Electrocardiogram (ECG), electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyogram (EMG) and
    • Ion Sensitive Field Effect Transistor (ISFET) sensor design for pH sensing device, for buffer index/capacity measurement. Also the system is capable of providing both pH and 'real-time' buffer capacity measurement.
    • Design and assess novel high output impedance circuit topologies (10MΩ at 1MHz) suitable for medical applications.

    Non-contacting infra-red (IR) thermometer

    This research project is related to the design of a novel self-calibrating non-contacting infra-red (IR) thermometer primarily intended for use in food industry applications where existing systems are unable to match either the accuracy or the speed at which measurements can be. The device will be produced by Calex Limited. The project was awarded an Industrial Fellowship by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 for this research work.

    The School works collaboratively with academics in the UK and abroad to address fundamental problems in fluid mechanics.

    Researchers within this sub-theme are interested in determining the fundamental physics of industrially relevant fluid mechanics problems using a combination of both advanced asymptotic and numerical modelling techniques.

    Areas of interest include:

    • Two and three-dimensional boundary-layer instabilities and transition processes
    • Non-Newtonian boundary-layer flows
    • Passive-flow control technologies
    • Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) processes

    The group is associated with the UK Fluids Network (UKFN) and has representation at the following Special Interest Groups (SIGs): Boundary layers and complex rotating flows and Non-Newtonian fluid mechanics.

    The group has close links with academics and PhD students at the University of Leicester (UK), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the University of Sydney (AUS). Much of the current research work is interdisciplinary in nature and we are always interested to hear from new potential collaborators, both academic and industrial.