SIRF Drives £100m Structural Integrity Research Initiative at TWI

Wed, 19 December 2012

In early November TWI welcomed the announcement by the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to support our plans to establish a £50m+ TWI Structural Integrity Research Foundation (SIRFTM). The latest round of the UK Regional Growth Fund awards enables TWI to address a key industry need and realise the build of a multi-million pound postgraduate engineering facility integrated within the expanded TWI headquarters, at Granta Park, Cambridge UK.

Working closely with Brunel University, a further £15m public capital funds were awarded via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) which will allow the additional purchase of structural integrity and associated technology equipment. This equipment will be exploited via the £50m+ National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC™) initiative with key input from industry and partner universities (Brunel, Cambridge and Manchester). The academic partners will provide input to fundamental research, academic supervision and the awarding of Master degrees and doctorates.

The key differentiator of SIRFTM and NSIRCTM compared with conventional universities is that the work will be industry-need driven, as opposed to the curiosity-led research carried out in most conventional universities for academic recognition.

The key outputs arising are industry-ready engineers and scientists in structural integrity disciplines such as fail-safe design, flaw evaluation, corrosion prevention and structural health monitoring to name but a few.

Opportunities for Industrial Partnership

A number of industrial organisations have already shown keen interest in playing a significant part in providing industry funding and expertise and structuring the Centre’s development from its outset. At the time of writing, these include Lloyd’s Register, Network Rail and BP. We are now encouraging further Industrial Member organisations to join this collaboration of lead industrial project partners, which will allow them to direct the Foundation and the development of the Centre and determine the technical focus and challenges it will address in the long term through its research programmes. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the undersigned if you would like to further discuss how you could exploit the public investment into structural integrity technology for the benefit of your technology development needs.

The aim of the Centre will be to train, qualify and award higher degrees specifically related to structural integrity and, at the same time, to innovate by developing technologies and approaches to enhance the safety of new and existing engineering structures. The facility will provide UK industry with world-class engineers who can lead the development of new, safe, world-beating products and components in all sectors.

We expect the Centre to offer capacity for 200 postgraduate students and its inauguration will ultimately create around 50 new jobs.

Andrew Lansley MP noted the importance of this strategic initiative for UK engineering: ‘Structural integrity is critical to many sectors of engineering and advanced manufacturing. I applaud TWI in securing this major funding to enable such a remarkable extension to high-level research into structural integrity and support for specialist skills across the country.’

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