Engineering laboratories in The Diamond

There is a range of laboratories in The Diamond for students to take advantage of.

A man working in a lab in The Diamond.

On level one 

Aerospace Simulation & Propulsion

The Aerospace Simulation and Propulsion Laboratory provides hands-on experience of aircraft design and performance, using state-of-the-art flight simulators. Students can look at flight performance and stability, and test flying aircraft to determine their suitability for commercial or military purposes.

They will get the rare opportunity to access a working jet engine, complete with simulator bench that allows changes in throttle position, altitude and temperature to be accurately modelled.

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Engineering Foundation Year

What equipment is in the lab?

  • 5 Merlin static flight simulators for aircraft design 
  • 10 X-Plane flight simulators for flight control and navigation
  • 20 Wren jet engines to take apart and analyse and one cutaway variant
  • A GUNT ET 796 jet engine test bench 
  • A Price Induction jet engine simulator bench 
  • Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshaft engine loaned from Rolls-Royce Heritage 
  • 6 Cussons P9080 Compressor Rigs

The Analytics Laboratory has a wide range of equipment that allows the characterisation of gas and liquid mixtures.

One of the most widely used characterisation techniques is gas chromatography, the essential parts of which are the oven, carrier gas, syringe and detector, all of which feature in the laboratory. 

Another example of the lab’s analytical equipment is the ion chromatograph, which allows the ions to be identified and their concentrations determined. It works by monitoring the progress of light through a solution with a dissolved component and is particularly useful for detecting very low concentrations. In addition, there is a range of equipment introducing fundamental principles of chemical engineering. For example, the laboratory contains a test apparatus to determine how mixing in a stirred tank depends upon the paddle used, speed and presence of baffles. 

Students conduct experiments by adding a small volume of salt solution to a large tank of water, and then determining how long it takes for the tank concentration to reach a steady-state. Finally, there is an extensive range of laboratory equipment that covers areas of study such as acid/ base titrations, measurement of activation energy, synthesis of chemicals, fuel cells and renewable energy. The facilities also include a range of gases available through a manifold and four fume cupboards. 

In the Analytics Laboratory, we offer students access to a wide range of equipment that is essential to their understanding of the fundamental principles of chemical engineering.

Students will learn:

  • Synthesis of chemicals, fuel cells and renewable energy
  • Determine the concentration of ions and measure activation energy
  • Characterisation and processing of mixtures

Who uses this lab?

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Engineering Foundation Year
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering (MEng Engineering)

What equipment is in the lab?

  • 2 x Ion Chromatographs (for the analysis of Anions in aqueous solutions)
  • 2 x Low Resolution Gas Chromatographs with 1 metre glass packed 3mm I.D. columns for solvent/alcohols analysis
Clean Room

In the Clean Room, we provide a unique environment for the engineers of tomorrow to get to grips with a range of microfabrication techniques.

The space is one hundred times cleaner than the air outside and has controlled access, with pressurisation, humidity and temperature control to prevent contamination. Students can produce and test devices at a scale smaller than a living cell and only visible with the most powerful of microscopes.

It is a facility that is crucial in providing students with the kind of hands-on experience required to work in this remarkable field of engineering.

Who uses this lab?

  • Computer Science
  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering

What equipment is in the lab?

  • Plasma etching (Oxygen and Argon)
  • Thermal evaporators (most metals)
  • Thermal annealing (tube furnace and desktop RTA)
  • Optical microscopes with digital cameras
  • Probe stations
  • Source-measurement units (Keysight B2900)
  • LCR meters (Keysight)
  • Solar simulator (Newport multi-LED 0-1 sun)
  • Spinner
  • Mask aligners (Suss MJB3)
  • Mask writer (Heidelberg uPG101) Min. feature size = 1um
  • Diamond stylus surface profilometry (Dektak)
Pilot Plant

The Diamond Pilot Plant (DiPP) is the cornerstone for the education of the Sheffield Chemical Engineer. 

Learn more

Engineering Applications Workshop & Machine Shop

The Engineering Applications Workshop

This is a dedicated facility for the “Engineering Applications” module studied by Aerospace, Mechanical, Civil, Electrical and General Engineering (Meng) students. This module allows them to develop their understanding of different manufacturing techniques. Students are tasked with manufacturing their own Gyroscopically powered vehicle. They will receive tuition from a team of specialist technicians and Graduate Teaching Assistants using a variety of tools and equipment. The aim is to produce the fastest vehicle whilst using their gained knowledge to strengthen their understanding of the “Design for Manufacture” concept.

The Machine Shop

Used primarily by students to manufacture components for the “Engineering Applications” module above, this facility houses 16 bench lathes. Following a Health and Safety Induction students manufacture 3 components for the Gyroscopic car using a lathe, guided through the process by expert technicians. This area is also home to a Haas CNC Milling Machine and Lathe, larger scale bandsaws and other workshop related equipment.

The space also houses two different types of unique 3D printers which are available for course-related activities and extracurricular projects.

Fuse deposition modelling (FDM) printers create 3D parts from drawings by extruding layer upon layer of plastic 20 microns thick. Not only are can these devices be used for prototyping a students product design,  they are also a valuable tool for producing parts required by teachers themselves. The Formlabs Form 1+ uses a different method of 3D printing where an additive manufacturing process employs a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer "resin" and an ultraviolet laser to build layers one at a time. Exposure to the light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below progressively building the 3D model.

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering (MEng Engineering)
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in the Machine Shop?

  • 16 bench lathes and associated tooling
  • Haas CNC Milling Machine
  • Haas CNC office lathe
  • Bandsaws

What equipment is in the EA Workshop?

  • Individual Workstations with tooling
  • Manual Milling Machines
  • Bench Drills
  • Laser Cutters
  • 3D printers
  • Vacuum Former
  • Sheet metal working facilities
  • Hydraulic Press
  • White metal centrifugal casting
  • Metrology Bench
  • Large Sheet Metal Working Equipment
Structures & Dynamics

The equipment in the lab includes latticed frameworks, arches and suspension cables which replicate the construction of very large bridges or building. Students can use this equipment to see which types of forces impact structures in different ways; including buckling, torsion and stress analysis where the theory is mathematically complex.

For high force applications, the lab also houses ten Shimadzu Universal Testing machines that test qualities of different materials, including tensile and compressive testing.

Students will learn

  • Tensile and compressive testing
  • Dynamic and static loading of structures
  • Instrumentation of structures
  • Composite material behaviour

Project work

For special project work, the lab is also connected to the Project Space meaning students can design, construct and test their own structures at model scale. Students have created a seven-metre cable-supported bridge, which can be altered allowing them to see for themselves how different builds and layouts can be affected by external forces. 

Who uses this lab?

What equipment is in the lab

  • Gunt reaction frames.
  • Arches and Suspension cables.
  • Cantilever trusses.
  • Deflection of a Beam.
  • Normal/Shear Stresses in Beams.
  • Plastic Hinge Formation.
  • Plastic Portal Frame Collapse.
  • Carbon fibre frames and linkages, 3 Storey Towers, Portals, Trusses
  • Shimadzu 5 kN Universal Testing Machines (Tension, Compression, Flexural)
  • Gunt Torsion Testers.
  • Assortment of weights from 0.2g to 1Kg
  • Pasco Equipment: Large Structures Set; 850 Universal Interface and software; Load Cell Amplifier; Load Cells; Displacement Sensor; Force Platform; Function Generator; Vibration Generator

On level two

Computing & Robotics

The Diamond has over 1000 computers available for students to use in open-access areas and four computer labs designed specifically for teaching. The hi-spec lab has workstations that utilise sophisticated graphics cards and 3D-capable monitors. The largest of the computer labs features a purpose-built robot arena, enabling students to use several different robots to study artificial intelligence, and write Java, Python and C++ programs to drive them or manipulate them via visual programming tools.

There are several different types of robot available for use in The Diamond within a purpose-built robot arena.

NAO humanoid robots

The NAO robots are extremely useful for teaching artificial intelligence, as they have a wide range of sensors and motors. They can be controlled using visual programming tools or more sophisticated coding with languages such as Python, C++ or Java. They can be programmed to do simple tasks such as walking, standing up and sitting down, but they can also do more complicated interactive functions such as face and voice recognition.

Lego Mindstorm robots

Made into basic vehicles, the Lego Mindstorm robots are used as a platform to learn Object-Oriented programming languages, such as Java. Due to the variety of sensors available, it is possible to get them to detect objects, follow lines and measure distances, all of which are good ways of learning a programming language.

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Automatic Control & Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in the lab?

  • 80 Lego Mindstorm robots
  • 14 NAO humanoid robots
Electronics & Control

The Electronics and Control Laboratory gives students the practical skills required by industry and allows them to develop their understanding, from fundamental electronic components to sophisticated applications such as magnetic levitation and wireless communications.

The facility enables students to design, build, test and evaluate a range of modern systems utilising many aspects of electrical, electronic
and control systems hardware and software.

The lab is equipped with high specification equipment from National Instruments (NI), Quanser and Keysight and includes the innovative and adaptive NI Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (ELVIS), which allows a hands-on lab experience across the entire multi-disciplinary engineering curriculum.

The experiments are wide-ranging and include designing micro-processors, signal analysis, large scale DC and AC motors, mechatronics, Internet of Things, Transformers, Power Electronics and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs).

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Automatic Control & Systems Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Engineering Foundation Year
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering - (MEng Engineering)
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in this lab?

  • 72 workbenches, each including: NI Elvis; Oscilloscope; Waveform Generator; Bench Multimeter; Power Supply; Quanser servo and amplifier; Soldering Iron
  • Network Analysers
  • Digilent Nexys 4 FPGA Boards
  • NI myDAQ
  • LCR Meter
  • Power Meter
  • Source Measurement Unit
  • Advanced Solder Station
  • Voltera PCB Printer
  • PCB Drills
  • 3 phase machine sets
  • PLC manufacturing rig
Materials lab

In the Materials Laboratory, students will learn about many types of materials, how they work and how their structures can be controlled. The lab houses equipment for analysing and testing a variety of material characteristics.

Students will learn:

  • Analysing and testing material characteristics
  • Image metallurgic, ceramic and biological samples
  • Observe nano-scale structures and atomic structures of materials
  • Characterise the chemical structures of materials
  • Annealing and curing of ceramic, metals and composites

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering 
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering (MEng Engineering)
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in the lab

  • Hitachi TM3030Plus Tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Zwick Proline Z020 – Mechanical testing frames
  • Zwick HIT50P – Charpy Impact testing instrument
  • Zwick / Roell Indentec ZHV 30 – Hardness Indenter
  • Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS5 – FTIR Spectrometer (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer)
  • TA Instruments DSC Q20 – Differential Scanning Calorimetry
  • Bruker D2 Phaser – XRD
  • Babyplast – Injection moulder
  • Motic BA310Met-T Optical Microscop

On level three

Bioengineering - Bacterial

The Bioengineering Bacterial Laboratory is equipped with the latest biomanufacturing technologies used in the pharmaceutical and bioscience industry. The laboratory provides students with industry-relevant facilities enabling the design, production and improvement of bioproducts, such as antibodies, enzymes, growth factors and vaccine antigens, used in the treatment of cancer, immune disorders, infections and disease.

The laboratory has bench space for 40 students with regulated supplies of argon, helium and nitrogen, as well as natural gas and compressed air. It contains a fume cupboard, ice maker, autoclave sterilisation facilities and safety cabinet for sample preparation. Three shaking incubators provide optimal growth conditions for microbial cell culture and, in conjunction with The Diamond Pilot Plant, the bioprocess can be scaled-up using industrial microbial fermenters. For efficient disruption of cells, the laboratory also has a high-pressure homogeniser and for fast purification of proteins, peptides and nucleic acids there is a comprehensive Chromatography system. Further equipment helps students characterise the bioproduct they produce, enabling them to analyse proteins and DNA for investigation.

Who uses this lab?

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering

What equipment is in the lab

  • Microbial fermenters
  • Chromotography systems (FPLC & HPLC)
  • High pressure homogeniser
  • Class II Biological Safety Cabinet for microbial cell culture
  • Superspeed centrifuge (29,000 rpm, 100, 605 g, 6x 1L capacity)
  • Shaking Incubators
  • Horizontal gel electrophoresis systems for separating nucleic acids
  • ChemiDoc imaging system for gels and blots
  • Fluorescence plate reader
  • Thermal cycler for PCR (polymerase chain reaction)
  • UV-Vis spectrophotometers
  • Ice Maker
  • Autoclave for sterilization of glassware and media
Bioengineering - Tissue

The use of material for biological purposes – from catheter tubes to utilising titanium to aid ligament repair – requires a strong understanding of how such materials and the human body react. The Bioengineering-Tissue Laboratory has the capacity to test these boundaries and teach vocational bioengineering skills using high specification equipment.

The laboratory is split into two teaching spaces;

The traditional bench space is available for 40 students with regulated supplies of argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and helium alongside natural gas.

Ten biological safety cabinets can each accommodate two scientists simultaneously. These enable students to learn and apply the aseptic technique for the preparation of medical samples and biomaterials, which is fundamental to cell biology and a highly marketable job skill.

The tissue laboratory focuses on mammal cell culturing capabilities, using two static incubators that feature rapid response times and data logging capacity. In addition, a high specification shaking incubator provides the laboratory with space for shaking suspended cultures. The status and health of these cultures can then be monitored by the students using a clinical-grade metabolite analyser capable of monitoring six separate chemistries in one minute. The system enables the students to monitor fresh samples for live culture analysis or carry out a retrospective analysis of stored samples.

In addition, the laboratory contains ten inverted phase-contrast microscopes equipped with digital cameras, which enable students to learn imaging techniques. High-level optical performance and fluorescent microscopy is also available, as well as the capacity to perform live-cell imaging

Who uses this lab?

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Science and Engineering

What equipment is in the lab

  • Class II Biological Safety Cabinets for mammalian cell culture
  • Static Incubators
  • Shaking Incubator
  • Inverted phase contrast light microscopes with digital cameras
  • Live cell imaging systems
  • Fluorescence microscope
  • Cryostat microtome for sectioning biological tissue
  • Absorbance plate readers
  • Mini bioreactors for mammalian cells (0.5L)
  • ViCell automated cell counter
  • Metabolite analyser
  • Vertical gel electrophoresis system for separating proteins
  • Gel Doc EZ imaging System for detecting protein and DNA in gels
  • ADInstruments teaching system kits for measuring and recording physiological signals
Fluids Engineering

In the Fluids Engineering Lab, we investigate the ways in which a fluid (a material that flows with no fixed shape) interacts with its surroundings, allowing students with the opportunity to experiment with the principles governing the mechanics of fluids, namely air and water.

The lab houses:

  • A ten-metre long teaching flume capable of recirculating 117 tonnes of water an hour. The flume is used to simulate the behaviour of rivers, culverts, weirs and waves allowing students to study the principles of open channel flow
  • 20 hydraulic benches so students can understand the effects of transportation or storage on fluids, such as flow measurement, turbulent and laminar flow, frictional losses, impact of jets and floating stability 
  • 20 computer-controlled pumps and turbine rigs so students can see the operation of a variety of pump and turbine designs and investigate the factors affecting their performance using specially created software
  • four computer-controlled wind tunnels to demonstrate how the shape of an object, can affect lift, drag, pressure distribution, wake and separation 
  • 20 carbon-fibre teaching wind tunnels for simpler flow visualisation and friction experiments 
  • Network of pipes and valves to explore how water and air move through them 

Who uses the lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Engineering Foundation Year
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering (MEng Engineering)
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in the lab?

  • 10m flume
  • Cussons bench
  • Diffusers
  • Gunt pumps
  • Hydrostatic carousel
  • Hydraulic benches
  • Network of pipes and specimen pipes
  • Reynolds Number
  • Wind Tunnels
  • Cussons Centre of pressure apparatus
Thermodynamics & Mechanics

The Thermodynamics and Mechanics Laboratory equips the students with the practical understanding and experience involved with the modern engineering concept of energy efficiency. Heat transfer is examined in compressors and heat exchangers, and through special laboratory equipment such as the boiling and radiation rigs. Students are able to compare theory with experimental results and gain a better understanding of energy transfer by using apparatus that are modelled on actual industrial equipment.

The laboratory is also home to a number of dynamics experiments where the movement of mechanical systems and structures is examined. Gaining an understanding of the issues of force, acceleration, friction and vibration and how these play an important part in the design and manufacture of mechanical structures such as supporting beams, aeroplane wings and turbine blades.

Who uses this lab?

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Engineering Foundation Year
  • Interdisciplinary Engineering (MEng Engineering)
  • Mechanical Engineering

What equipment is in the lab?

  • Hilton Heat Exchanger Rig
  • Band Brake & Gearbox Apparatus
  • Slider Crank Apparatus
  • Gunt Condensing rig
  • Gunt Boiling Rig
  • Acoustics
  • Vibrating beam
  • Tap testing of steam turbine blades

Centres of excellence

The University's cross-faculty research centres harness our interdisciplinary expertise to solve the world's most pressing challenges.