Dr Tom Howard
Multidisciplinary Engineering Education
University Teacher and Acting Academic Lead in Computing, Control and Electrical Engineering
+44 114 222 6146
Full contact details
Multidisciplinary Engineering Education
32 Leavygreave Road
I obtained an MEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sheffield in 2009 and from there joined the Tribology Group within the department to study for my PhD. For my PhD I worked in collaboration with Ricardo UK Ltd. to develop a new bearing concept to improve the reliability of wind turbine gearboxes.
This work was expanded into an industrialisation project, which led to my appointment as a Research Associate within the Tribology Group for three years (whilst finishing off my PhD in my spare time!) As part of this, I worked with Ricardo and the University of Strathclyde on the design and installation of an Advanced Wind Turbine Condition Monitoring System and I was part of the team who commissioned this system 40m in the air at the top of a host turbine on the Barnesmore Wind Farm in Northern Ireland!
In parallel to this (and with my feet back on solid ground), I also worked on other tribology research projects involving the investigation and resolution of friction and wear issues in industrial processes, often involving the design and commissioning of bespoke test platforms to replicate in-field component failures. It was through all this work that I developed a passion for the hands-on, practical aspects of engineering.
In 2016, I left the University to become a Test Engineer for Magtec: a Sheffield-based engineering company who develop drivetrain systems for electric vehicles. This then led to me taking on a role as a Lead Project Engineer at Libertine FPE Ltd, where I helped the company to get set up in Sheffield and led on Innovate UK funded projects to develop their novel linear electrical machine technology for sustainable power generation applications. In both of these roles, I found that most of my time was spent either in the engineering workshop, designing and assembling systems or getting dirty on test rigs, and through this I began to realise how valuable it was for engineers to have strong practical ability.
In the background, throughout all of this, I found that I was doing a lot of programming: whether developing LabVIEW applications to control test rigs and bring things to life,or developing Python scripts to analyse the gigabytes of data that I was generating from the tests I was doing, I developed quite a passion for it all. As a result, in 2019 I returned to the University to join MEE and teach practical robotics, which - as it turns out - involves a lot of the things that I love most about engineering. In this role, I now hope to infuse the same passion in future engineers.
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
- Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence 2021 (HEA)
- MEng - Mechanical Engineering - The University of Sheffield
- PhD - Tribology (Mechanical Engineering) - The University of Sheffield
- Remote practicals in the time of coronavirus, a multidisciplinary approach. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 50(2), 219-239. View this article in WRRO
- Measurement of roller load, load variation, and lubrication in a wind turbine gearbox high speed shaft bearing in the field. Tribology International, 148. View this article in WRRO
- Observations on acoustic emissions from a line contact compressed into the plastic region. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology, 230(11), 1371-1376. View this article in WRRO
- Ultrasonic Measurement of Self Loosening in Bolted Joints. Journal of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, Proceedings of the IMechE Part C.
- Envelope Analysis Using the Teager-Kaiser Energy Operator for Condition Monitoring of a Wind Turbine Bearing. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 564, 170-175.
Conference proceedings papers
- Student experiences of practical activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) (pp 619-623). Vienna, Austria, 21 April 2021 - 23 April 2021. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Direct load measurement of a wind turbine high speed shaft bearing in the field. WCCM 2017 - 1st World Congress on Condition Monitoring 2017
- Detecting Damage on Wind Turbine Bearings Using Acoustic Emissions and Gaussian Process Latent Variable Models. Structural Health Monitoring 2015 View this article in WRRO
- Teaching interests
- The development of practical, hands-on skills for engineers
- Experimental design
- Industry-relevant skills
- Robotics and the Robot Operating System (ROS)
- Teaching activities
- COM2009 Robotics & ROS (DCS)
- ACS231 Mechatronics: Robot Arm Practicals (ACSE, BIO)
- The “FYGER” Team Robotics Challenge (EEE)