The MRes in Future Propulsion and Power

The MRes, which provides a springboard to the PhD phase of the CDT at one of the three partner universities.

MRes course diagram

Part 1 - Modules

During Part 1 of the MRes (October-December) students undertake a combination of core and elective modules. The modules give students a world-leading background in the theory of advanced propulsion and power aerodynamics as well as practical aspects of both experimental and computational research.

Core modules

Foundation concepts (Introductory course)
Syllabus includes: types of turbomachinery; governing equations; fluid properties; performance metrics; compressible flow; non-dimensional analysis of turbomachinery; thermodynamic cycles.

Advanced Propulsion and Power Aerodynamics (Flagship MRes course in advanced propulsion and aerodynamic concepts) 
Syllabus includes: combustor aerodynamics; compressor stability; electric propulsion; heat transfer and cooling concepts; installation effects and integrated propulsion; loss mechanisms in turbomachines; three-dimensional flows and three-dimensional blade design concepts; transonic axial flow fan design.

Turbomachinery aerodynamic design process (Fundamentals, and hands-on experience, of computational methods for blade design) 
Syllabus includes: hierarchy of numerical methods: mean-line; throughflow; blade profile design; three-dimensional single row; multi-stage steady; multi-stage unsteady.

Experimental methods (Practical course in experimental fluid dynamics) 
Syllabus includes: uncertainty and error; data acquisition; pressure measurement; aerodynamic probes; thermal anemometry; laser anemometry; signal conditioning and processing.

Researcher skills (Non-technical skills needed for successful research) 
Syllabus includes: planning research projects; time management; technical writing; presentation skills; visual communication; responsible research and innovation.

Elective modules

Students choose two modules from those on offer by the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Students who have not already done so will be encouraged to select: 4A2 - Computational fluid dynamics; and 4A3 - Turbomachinery.  

Seminar Series 1 – Advanced Methods

The MRes course includes two Seminar Series. In the first term (Oct-Dec), there is a seminar focus on state-of-the-art methods for both computational and experimental design and research in gas turbines. These seminars are designed to enhance and complement the content of the modules, but are non-examinable.

Part 2 - Projects

In Part 2 of the MRes (January-April), students experience working in the research laboratories of each of the three participating universities and also in industry. The Mini-Projects at Cambridge, Loughborough and Oxford focus on compressor, combustor and turbine aerodynamics respectively; the industry courses look at the challenges of integrating these, and other, components together into a successful machine.

University Projects

Mini Project 1 - Loughborough

The first week of this project builds upon the taught material from the MRes with academics from Loughborough presenting seminars discussing the major aerothermal challenges for future combustion systems and showcasing the research being undertaken at Loughborough.  In the subsequent two weeks students will gain hands-on experience of the key computational and experimental techniques being used to answer these challenges.  Students will use some of Loughborough's unique test facilities to investigate, for example, combustion system aerodynamic or two-phase fuel injector flows using advanced optical techniques.  This will also involve advanced data analysis techniques such as Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD) to examine large data sets.  To compliment this students will be given a solid grounding in technical computing which will involve building a small Linux cluster and developing a parallel code to run on it.  Thus, in addition to furthering the students’ knowledge of combustion systems the mini-project will also help teach the skills necessary to produce and examine so-called “big-data”.

Mini Project 2 - Cambridge

The project builds on rapid test techniques developed over the past 5 years. This project is based on a series of experimental tests of a rotating single-stage axial compressor facility. During the 3 weeks, students will assess the performance of the compressor and attempt to improve the compressor performance through a re-design of the stator. The Whittle Lab's 3D printer are used to print the stator blades, which are then tested in the compressor. The syllabus will comprise: discussion/derivation of appropriate non-dimensional groups; measurement of the pressure-rise mass flow characteristic; spanwise traverses of stator-exit flowfield (traversing and 3-hole probe calibration); design and test and analysis of an improved compressor stator.

Mini Project 3 - Oxford

The Oxford mini-project illustrates theory, numerical methods and measurement techniques from the main areas of expertise of the Oxford Thermofluids Institute: high-speed flows and heat transfer.

The high-speed flow studies revolve around the design, simulation, manufacture and experimental validation of two supersonic nozzles. Supersonic nozzles are a basic component of propulsion systems as well as experimental setups for hypersonics research. The design phase illustrates the theory and application of the method of characteristics. The experiments illustrate the use of infra-red thermography and total pressure traverses. The numerical simulations illustrate basic techniques in grid generation, convergence and analysis of CFD solutions. The heat transfer study revolves around a ribbed channel experiment. Ribbed channels are commonly encountered in internal cooling of turbine blades and illustrate the main aspects of heat transfer in complex flows. The experimental part of the project illustrates the use of liquid crystal thermography to investigate wall heat transfer. The numerical study illustrates some aspects of the CFD problems encountered in internal cooling flows. The ribbed channel experiment is also used to illustrate basic techniques in data analysis – the SVD and PCA – to characterize the sensitivity of the flow to geometric perturbations. 

Industrial Projects

The aim of the industrial projects is to give students a broader perspective on their research, considering the integration of different gas turbine components as well as real-world design and operation issues.

Rolls-Royce Holistic Gas Turbine Course

The five-day Holistic Gas Turbine course covers a broad range of gas turbine theory at a balanced level of detail. The theory is applied in an engine design exercise that features hand-calculations on performance, aerodynamics and mechanics. The course gives a whole-engine understanding of how the gas turbine works and how it is designed. Theory and detail is added to basic gas turbine design in this Intermediate Holistic Gas Turbine five-day course.

Siemens Hands-on Gas Turbine Training

This course includes hands-on experience of Siemens gas turbines in their purpose-built customer training centre in Lincoln. The syllabus will vary depending on activities available during the two weeks but opportunities include: take down of a Siemens engine to the sub-system level; inspection of component parts; appreciation of real engine geometry and tolerancing, exercises in an engine operation simulator; control system course; vibration course. In addition to the work in the training centre, students will also tour the Siemens factory and be familiarised with the commercial aspects and opportunities of the land-based gas turbine business.


Dyson - Product Design

A 2‐day short project focussing on product design. Topics will include small‐scale turbomachinery,
system integration, electrification, noise, cost.

Part 3 - Research Proposal Dissertation

For the final part of the MRes (May-September), students work with an individual supervisor, and a broader team of experts drawn from the CDT partners, to develop a detailed proposal for the PhD phase. During this part, the seminar series take a Systems Design perspective on gas turbine design.

PhD Phase

The MRes provides a springboard to the PhD phase of the CDT. Students register for a PhD at one of the three partner universities. Each university provides an internationally recognised environment for turbomachinery research but CDT students also benefit from the network of experts, and the portfolio of skills, that they have built up during the MRes phase. In addition, the full cohort is regularly reunited for CDT seminars, dinners and workshop events. During the PhD years students in each cohort will also attend:

ATI Data Science Workshops delivered by the Alan Turing Institute.

Glendonbrook Centre: a week-long residential course at Loughborough’s Glendonbrook Centre. Topics will include entrepreneur skills, start-up strategies and Responsible Innovation.

Innovation Day: all of the Centre’s cohorts are brought together every two years for the Innovation Day where students present their work to each other, academics and industry and government experts with the aim of enhancing the impact of their research.

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