Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for NDT

Details

Title: Artificial Intelligence for NDT - Development of AI systems for robotic path planning and automated defect detection

Funding: The cost of tuition fees (home fee rate will apply to all applicants) and a standard tax-free stipend for three years of not less than £16,000 per annum (£18,795 in 2021-22). Total funding is capped at £24,000 per annum, to be applied to home, EU and international applicants.

Application deadline: 2nd July 2021.

Start date: October 2021

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: TWI Technology Centre, Port Talbot, Wales.

Based in: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

It is anticipated there will be an initial placement for a short duration at the University of Essex before the student joins TWI Port Talbot, subject to discussion and confirmation with the successful applicant.

Overview

The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex in collaboration with The Welding Institute (TWI) is pleased to announce a PhD studentship in “Artificial Intelligence for NDT - Development of AI systems for robotic path planning and automated defect detection”.

This project seeks to continue the advancement of the robotic inspection cells in TWI (Intacom) by introducing additional methods such as eddy currents and laser ultrasound.

New challenges brought by Industry 4.0 include the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems for robotic path planning and automated defect detection, the use of cooperating robots (Cobots) to perform tasks alongside human engineers without the use of dedicated safety cells, and the acquisition and management of very large data sets on-site acquired using free standing robotic manipulators linked to metrology systems.

The Intacom 2 robot cell was developed to enable the inspection of large objects such as fan cases and wing spars. This generates large amounts of Phased Array Ultrasound Test (PAUT) data that are time consuming to analyse.

The position is based at the TWI Technology Centre offices in Port Talbot, minutes from the M4, within easy access to sandy beaches and beautiful Welsh hills towards Swansea and beyond, and only 40 minutes’ drive from the vibrant city of Cardiff. It is anticipated there will be an initial placement for a short duration at the University of Essex before the student joins TWI, subject to discussion and confirmation with the successful applicant.

NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Loughborough, Birmingham, Leicester and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners. 

The project

This project will aim to develop software that is able to extract flaws, characterise and size them and sentence the part by reference to a list of stored parameters. The application will be deployed for assisting with defect detection for both PAUT and digital radiographic (DR) data.

  • Desktop literature review to establish the state of the art.
  • Validation of algorithms via experiment with reporting of findings.
  • Development of ADR for FMC data for metallic components (AM)
  • Development of ADR for Radiography/CT of metallic components
  • AI for NDT Scanning of Unknown Geometries using Collaborative Robots

Funding

This project is funded by the University of Essex and TWI.

The funding covers:

  • The cost of tuition fees. Home, EU and International applicants are welcome to apply. The home fee rate will apply to all applicants.
  • A standard tax-free stipend for three years of not less than £16,000 per annum (£18,795 in 2021-22).

Total funding is capped at £24,000 per annum, to be applied to home, EU and international applicants.

Criteria

Applicants who do not speak English as a first language should provide evidence of proficiency (this does not need to be provided at application stage, if it is not held at this point). This should demonstrate proficiency to the level of IELTS 6.5 (with 5.5 in each component). We accept a number of different proofs of proficiency.

Applicants also need to possess the following qualifications and experience:

Essential

  • BSc or BEng degree (1st, 2:1, or equivalent) in computer science, Electric Engineering, Robotics, Mechatronics, or a related subject
  • Strong analytical and mathematical skills

Desirable

  • Advanced knowledge of MATLAB, Simulink
  • Experience in skill acquisition or modelling
  • Experience in industrial robots and metrology systems for inspection (NDT)
  • Experience in design and deployment of data driven and model predictive control
  • Peer reviewed publication(s) in robotics, mechatronics, and control
  • Experience in Python, TensorFlow and/or Pytorch Machine Learning libraries
  • Experience in inspection/maintenance robotic applications
  • MSc degree (or equivalent) in computer science, Electric Engineering, Robotics, Mechatronics or a related subject

Note: Overseas applicants (who do not speak English as a first language) should also submit any proofs of English language that they hold at this stage.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

Please upload your CV, personal statement, and transcripts of any undergraduate or masters programmes. You will have an opportunity to do this when you have completed the online application form.

The deadline is Friday 2nd July.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "PhD Computer Science".
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship “Artificial Intelligence for NDT - Development of AI systems for robotic path planning and automated defect detection (Ref: CSEE/TWI-Oct2021-01)”.
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the Essex supervisors (Jinya Su, Ali Kafash Hoshiar).

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the supervisors, Dr Jinya Su (j.su@essex.ac.uk), Dr Ali Kafash Hoshiar (A.KafashHoshiar@essex.ac.uk), and Dr Ian Nicholson (ian.nicholson@twi.co.uk).