Studentship: “Spacecraft Finite Element Model correlation process”

The Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey is a world leading Centre of Excellence in Space Engineering, and together with an established industrial partner are looking for a graduate in Engineering to undertake applied research leading to a PhD.

The main aim of this project is to investigate and improve some aspects of the Spacecraft Finite Element Model (FEM) correlation process.

The development of the satellite structural design in fact ultimately relies on the accuracy of mathematical models (FEM) of the satellite and launch vehicle that have to be analysed in their coupled configuration in order to predict the loads that the satellite will experience during launch. The accuracy of the models is crucial to verify that the proposed design will be able to withstand the launch loads, and therefore the accuracy of the FEM has to be somehow demonstrated. This is accomplished by comparing model’s predictions with experimental results produced dynamically testing the satellite structure on the ground. The test analysis correlation process focusses on some parameters which are particularly relevant, and if necessary the FEM is then updated to improve its correlation with test results.

In this context, the aim of this project is investigate the parameters typically used in the correlation process and investigate some aspects of this whole process to improve its effectiveness.

We are seeking a researcher to work on this project in collaboration with an Industrial partner. In order to maintain the project aligned with the sponsor’s needs the researcher will spend some periods seconded at the premises of our industrial partner. The researcher will be enrolled as a PhD student and we are offering tuition fees plus a bursary fully funded (£15,000 per annum tax free) for 3rd years.

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The ideal candidate will have a degree (MEng level, with 2.1 degree classification or above, or equivalent national qualification – candidates holding a BEng degree could be acceptable depending on their profile) in Aerospace Engineering or Aeronautical, or Mechanical or other relevant discipline/background, a keen interest space structures, some experience in finite element analysis, a good understanding of structural dynamics (vibrations). It is expected that the student will contribute actively to academic life at the University of Surrey, and present the results of his/her research at relevant international conferences and in appropriate academic journals.

How to apply  Please fill in the application form online at the apply button below.

In the field labelled “Intended Research Area” enter “Spacecraft Finite Element Model correlation process”.

Please also send a copy of your CV, a cover letter (including a brief description of your research interests), and copies of any academic transcripts to Mrs Karen Collar, Administrator, Surrey Space Centre, BA Building, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, or by email to

For informal inquiries contact: Professor G. Aglietti (

Deadline for applications is 27th November 2013.

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