Manufacturing using Digital Reconfigurable Architectures Project

Closing date: 9am, Wednesday 29th January, 2020

The Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield invites applications for a project. The programme will start in February 2020.

Project Description

Would you like to work on an exciting project that has the potential to revolutionise the way we manufacture existing and next generation devices, using an approach that has reconfigurability and sustainability at its core?
The majority of products manufactured today have a form fixed at manufacture. This makes them inherently inflexible to changes in user/environment demand and difficult to recycle at the end of their useful life. In contrast, most engineers know the benefits of digital reconfigurable architectures from childhood (e.g. LEGO ® studded bricks). They allow a product to be manufactured from a finite set of building blocks and then readily modified or de-constructed using an “inverse” process without generating unnecessary waste.

This PhD project will contribute towards developing a manufacturing process which uses non-contact techniques to repeatedly organise, assemble and disassemble building blocks to produce a material/device that can be considered as more than a sum of its parts. In other words, a Star Trek style replicator assembling discrete LEGO-like blocks of material. It will lead to a future transformation in the manufacture of structural and adaptable devices, such as metamaterials.

Candidate Requirements and Eligibility

The project requires an applicant with knowledge of the properties and dynamics of materials, such as mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic. In addition, applicants are expected to have experience of at least one of the following:

  •  Control systems design and application.
  •  Acoustic or magnetic positional control of objects.
  •  Modelling and analysis of material properties (such as mechanical, electromagnetic and thermal).
  •  Fabrication of devices using processes such as (but not limited to): Laser cutting, Photolithography, Thin film deposition, MEMS fabrication, Selective etching, Electrodeposition and 3D printing.
  • Design of multi-functional devices
  • Chemical fabrication of micrometre-millimetre scale objects

Funding Notes

Applicants can apply for a Scholarship from the University of Sheffield but should note that competition
for these Scholarships is highly competitive. It will be possible to make Scholarship applications from
the Autumn with a strict deadline in late January 2020. Specific information is available at:


To apply, please submit a PhD application using the University’s online application system via the
Postgraduate online application form. Within the application, please state Dr Simon Pope as your
preferred supervisor and state the project title as ‘Manufacturing using Digital Reconfigurable

For informal queries, please contact Dr Simon Pope via
Closing date: 9am, Wednesday 29th January, 2020
Please note that shortlisted candidates will be required to attend an interview (which may take place
via Skype, in person or by phone).