ACSE to play integral role in GKN Aerospace Manufacturing project

The Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE) will be an integral part of a new partnership led by GKN Aerospace and The University of Sheffield. GKN's new Global Technology Centre (GTC) aims to accelerate the adoption of new digital technologies in aerospace manufacturing.

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The new centre - funded by a £17m commitment from GKN Aerospace and a £15m commitment from the UK government, through the Aerospace Technology Institute - is expected to open in 2020.

The 10,000 square metre facility will host 300 highly skilled engineers, and will include collaborative space for research and development with academics, the UK’s CATAPULT network and GKN Aerospace’s UK supply chain.

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GKN will work with academics from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and focus on additive manufacturing (AM), advanced composites, assembly and industry 4.0 processes to enable the high rate production of aircraft structures.

The University of Sheffield has significant experience in working with manufacturers to become more competitive by introducing new technologies and processes proven by research. Activities will expand to include collaborative research projects, co-location of staff and students from the Faculty and the AMRC to the GTC, and PhD opportunities to develop the talent pipeline into the aerospace industry.

Aligned with the research topics in Digital Manufacturing announced by GKN Aerospace and BEIS Secretary of state Greg Clark, ACSE’s research will focus on Artificial Intelligence to underpin intelligent process monitoring, part-process performance forecasting, and process multi-objective optimisation in additive manufacture. In particular, we will develop human-centric data-driven systems, with the aim to create computational structures that efficiently learn from data, while also maintain a level of interpretability in the form of human-readable linguistic expressions.

Dr George Panoutsos, Deputy Head of the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and Reader in Computational Intelligence, said:

“It’s brilliant for ACSE to demonstrate once again engagement with academic research that will lead to real world impact. Involvement with GKN Aerospace and their new £32M Global Technology Centre will come through the two ATI projects DAM (Developing Design for Additive Manufacturing) and AIRLIFT (Additive Industrialisation Future Technology).”

Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President & Head of Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, added:

"A key strength at the University of Sheffield is our capability to work across all technology readiness levels. The fundamental and experimental research undertaken in the Faculty, combined with the application-driven research at the AMRC is highly effective. This is an attractive proposition for companies such as GKN, as quality, end-to-end research is available from an established and integrated network of experts and facilities."

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy, said:

"GKN Aerospace’s new Global Technology Centre further strengthens our aerospace heritage and engineering expertise, and will keep the UK at the forefront of the latest technologies and manufacturing processes for the next-generation of aircraft."


"As the sector moves towards a cleaner, greener and more efficient future, we are partnering with industry through our modern Industrial Strategy and new Aerospace Sector Deal to ensure we have the skills, innovation and supply-chain to continue our world leadership in aviation."