Universities and Science Minister announces boost for postgraduate training

Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, has just made an announcement that marks a boost for postgraduate training in a wide range of engineering and scientific fields. Funding for 19 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), on top of the 72 CDTs announced in 2013, has been unveiled. The Department of Engineering Science is delighted that a number of these are for CDTs in Oxford.

The Department has been awarded:

  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems (AIMS)
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology – jointly supported with Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics

In addition, Professor Jong Min Kim, the Department’s Professor of Electrical Engineering, will play a key role in the following CDTs:

  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Graphene Technology
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronic Materials

Centre for Doctoral Training in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems

Professor Stephen RobertsProfessor Stephen Roberts, CDT Director, said: “In the next decade our society will be revolutionised by Autonomous, Intelligent Machines and Systems, which can learn, adapt and act independently of human control. The UK has the opportunity to become a world-leader in developing these technologies for sectors as diverse as energy, transport, environment, manufacturing and aerospace.

The Department’s CDT will deliver highly-trained individuals versed in the underpinning sciences of robotics, computer vision, wireless embedded systems, machine learning, control and verification. The CDT will advance practical models and techniques to enable computers and robots to make decisions under uncertainty, scale to large problem domains and be verified and validated.

The CDT provides a focal point to graduate training in one of the key growth areas in modern technology. It brings together two high-profile departments (Oxford University’s Engineering Science and Computer Science departments) to provide a critical breadth and depth of expertise”.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology

Professor Antonis PapachristodoulouProfessor Antonis Papachristodoulou, CDT Director, said: "The CDT in Synthetic Biology will combine world-leading expertise in engineering and the physical and life sciences at the universities of Oxford, Bristol and Warwick to create the next generation of industrial and academic leaders in this important new field.

"Synthetic Biology provides opportunities for revolutionary advances in fundamental science and industrial technology. The CDT's four-year programme of research and training has strong industrial links and will be highly multi-disciplinary, accepting students from a wide range of scientific backgrounds and focusing on the application of engineering principles to the design of biologically based parts, devices and systems".

He added: “The Synthetic Biology CDT is a unique opportunity to train engineers in biological system design. It will help fulfil the potential of this new field, and to address some of the most important challenges of the 21st century, from the development of new disease treatments to new forms of bioenergy and materials".

Centre for Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics

Professor Li HeProfessor Li He, said: “The CDT in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics will be an international centre of excellence, aimed at training the next generation of leaders in both research and industry. It brings together three UK universities: Cambridge, Oxford and Loughborough, along with four internationally leading companies: Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens and Dyson, assisted by a team of world leading experts from NASA, Rolls Royce and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

"The Centre is designed to support a sector which is currently responsible for the employment of 6.8% of UK manufacturing jobs, and which, over the next 20 years, is predicted to be worth in-excess of $1650 billion”.

Professor Jong Min KimProfessor Jong Min Kim, who will play a key role in both the Graphene Technology and Plastic Electronic Materials CDTs, said: “In the CDT in Graphene Technology I will be delivering a few lectures and co-supervising Cambridge-based PhD students or Master students who can spend up to 50% of their time in Oxford. I will also be part of the Management Group, which is the body responsible for the overall management of the Cambridge University CDT, in terms of student admissions, selection of projects etc”.

Professor Kim added: “The CDT in Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London is run jointly with Oxford University and Queen Mary University of London. It aims to give students interdisciplinary experience and capability in the science and application of plastic electronic materials and devices, with an understanding of the associated industry and ability to adapt and develop new technologies and applications. Bringing together over 40 academic staff with an exceptional breadth of physical science and engineering expertise and knowledge, the new CDT continues to capture the multidisciplinary nature of Plastic Electronics – combining formal learning with hands-on training – with much of its content informed from both industrial and academic partners. My main role is as one of the mentioned 40 academic staff”.

Mr Willetts said: “The Government will be investing in a further 900 students through an additional 19 Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), bringing our total investment in CDTs to £390 million.

In addition, universities, industry and other charitable partners will be adding a further £124 million to support the training of tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The combined public and private investment amounts to £764 million”.

Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: “The support of the academic and industrial communities has been tremendous and we would not have been able to fund these new centres without their cooperation. These new CDTs will provide training and advances in research in many areas of science and engineering including quantum technologies, manufacturing, robotics, energy and sustainability and brings the total number of Centres funded in this round to ninety one”.