Case Study: John Moyes Lessells Engineering Travel Awards

“I was able to travel to TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa to see 56.7 m wind turbine blades being manufactured, which was probably the most interesting company tour I have ever been on.”

 

James Maguire is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. James received a J M Lessells Travel Scholarship in June 2016 which enabled him to visit the Composited Manufacturing and Simulation Center at Purdue University. His three month research project looked at the use of epoxy powder in thick-section fibre reinforced composites parts, such as wind or tidal turbine blades.

 

 


Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am from County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, and I graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently studying for a PhD in Materials and Processes Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

Can you describe your project in no more than 50 words?

I am working on the use of epoxy powder in thick-section fibre reinforced composites parts, such as wind or tidal turbine blades. The aim of my project is characterise the material and simulate the manufacturing processes so that they can be optimised in terms of time and quality.

Did the RSE Lessells Scholarship contribute to the success of your research project? If yes, how did it help?

Yes, my project benefited greatly from being able to travel to the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center (CMSC) in Purdue University. At CMSC, I had access to excellent facilities for simulation of composites manufacturing, including a range of commercial simulation software and a powerful computer cluster. In addition to this, the staff and students at CMSC were very welcoming and were happy to share their knowledge so that I was able to make good progress in developing my simulations. As a result, I achieved my primary goal of developing a 3D simulation tool for processing thick-section composite parts from epoxy powder.

What would you have done if you did not receive RSE funding?

If I had not received the funding, I would have had to explore whether there were other funding sources available for travelling to CMSC.

What was your favourite part of your time abroad?

I was able to travel to TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa to see 56.7 m wind turbine blades being manufactured, which was probably the most interesting company tour I have ever been on. The tour was about 3 hours long and gave a very in-depth look at the manufacturing process of these huge structures.

Were there any unexpected outcomes?

To be honest, most of the trip went according to plan, which is sometimes unexpected when travelling abroad to carry out new research!

Did you disseminate your findings to your colleagues (at home and abroad) and/or the general public? If so, how?

I’ve presented my work at two conferences; the 12th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (EWTEC) in Cork, Ireland on the 31st of August 2017, and at the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE) Europe Conference in Stuttgart, Germany on the 16th of November 2017.

What do you plan to do now that the award has finished?

I will continue work on developing the simulation tools that I began work on, and I will work on experimentally validating the models. When complete, I will finish my thesis and hopefully graduate in 2018.

Would you say that the award was helpful in terms of progressing your career? If so, how?

Yes, the award has allowed me to develop new skills in composite process simulation which is an area of growing importance within the field of composites manufacturing. It also highlights that I am confident in my ability to travel to other countries and collaborate with researchers of different nationalities.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of applying for RSE Lessells Travel Scholarship?

My advice to other applicants would be to make use of any existing academic relationships that your research group may have with other institutions, and to ensure that your prospective host institute has the facilities you require to achieve your goals.

John Moyes Lessells Travel Scholarships

The JM Lessells Scholarships are designed to support Honours Graduates in Engineering from Scottish Universities, who wish to study some aspect of their profession outwith the UK. The 2018-19 round is currently open for applications, closing on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 5pm.

 

John Moyes Lessells Travel Scholarships