Student experience


Taught courses take place at all host institution sites in the United Kingdom and Ireland and the CDT covers the cost of train and plane tickets between institutions for all CDT cohort activities.

Students are registered at all host institutions for the duration of the course, with access to all institutions' facilities.

Once the PhD research project starts, the student is registered at the university of their supervisor with visiting status at the other institutions.

Professional skills courses and social activities bring the cohort back together on a regular basis and provide opportunities to interact with other CDTs. 

Student experiences

Daniel Suarez Fernandez from the 2016 cohort talks about his path to the CDT

I graduated in 2015 from the University of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

I combined the final years of my degree with working in industry in ITMA Materials Technology. It is here that I developed my final year project “Analysis of phase transformations in ADI (Austempered Ductile Irons), designing thermal treatments for achieving high performance and analysis of wear and shot peening response”.

Thanks to this opportunity, my interest and knowledge in materials science and metallurgy broadened, and in that moment I decided to study a MSc abroad in this topic.

At the end of 2015, I moved to Sheffield to study a MSc in Materials Science and Engineering, where I chose most of the optional modules related with metallurgy. During this course I was able to work with local industrial specialists (Cutting and Wear Resistant Developments Ltd.) developing testing methodologies for extreme wear demanding environments. It made me really enthusiastic about doing an industrially focussed PhD in metallurgy.

The CDT in Advanced Metallic Systems was the perfect match between working closely with industry and solving demanding problems in an industrial environment, while having the academic expertise and point of view. Best of both worlds!

A very interesting part of the CDT is that even though we are all working in projects related with metallic materials, our backgrounds are very different. This broadens our original point of view and improves our problem solving capabilities by widening our scope.

My project is sponsored by Rolls-Royce. It is centred on understanding the effects of the manufacturing process (forging and machining) of critical aerospace titanium components on their in-service performance.

This research will help improve machining processes to manufacture higher quality components and reduce their probability of failure, making flying safer and more efficient. It will also enhance production efficiency by reducing production bottlenecks and help to design and manufacture lighter component that will ultimately reduce fuel consumption and emissions in the civil aviation industry.

Charlotte Boig from the 2014 cohort talks about her experience as an EngD student

As an EngD student, I am much more closely connected with my sponsoring company than most of the PhD students. I spend at least one day a week at the company, continuing to work on my research project. I find that working in different environments is refreshing and aids productivity.

Since the project aims to provide information on a real and current area of interest to the company, my work is driven by their objectives. I enjoy this aspect of the work because it provides a sense of direction and moves the project along as I work towards specific goals.

Having support from my industrial supervisor as well as my academic supervisor is extremely valuable as it provides an alternative viewpoint and an insight into industrial operations.

Being part of the CDT is also a great source of support. As a cohort we have remained good friends since the initial period of taught courses and it is great to have a network of peers who are all facing similar challenges.

I have made the most of many opportunities which have arisen during my project, including conferences and training courses abroad and collaborations with other universities.

The EngD is an excellent way to continue working on an academic project whilst gaining experience of working in industry. It provides the perfect platform for embarking on a career in either sector.

David Bowden from the 2012 cohort talks about why he chose the CDT programme

I graduated in 2009 from the University of Hertfordshire with a Masters degree in Aerospace engineering. From here I went into industry, joining the BAE Systems Submarines graduate scheme based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. I spent three years with BAE and ended the graduate scheme with a role in the nuclear safety project management department.

I have always had an interest in materials science from my undergraduate degree and working on nuclear material projects at BAE really re-ignited my interest in the area.

Having realised how much exciting research was going on and wanting to get back into scientific and engineering based research, I discovered the Advanced Metallic Systems CDT advertising for PhD students. Needless to say, I promptly applied!

The CDT was a great option for me since the projects offered were diverse and catered to a wide range of interests. The first year taught element was a definite bonus for me to get my head back into the academic world as well as brush up on my materials science knowledge.

One aspect of the CDT I really value is the people in it. It's a great community with a group all starting together, from different academic backgrounds. You instantly have a network of people to not only work alongside but also to head down the pub with on a Friday night!

My project is titled "Cobalt-free Hard-facing materials for nuclear applications" and is sponsored by Rolls-Royce. I'm characterising two stainless steel alloys designed to be wear resistant and less hazardous to operate in a nuclear environment by removing Cobalt (which produces gamma rays when irradiated). These alloys are produced in a powder form and then pressed into pump and valve components.

The work so far on the project has been extremely interesting and exciting. The CDT is an excellent opportunity for those who wish to carry out PhD level research, as well as gain invaluable skills and training in preparation for life beyond the PhD.

Matt Topping from the 2012 cohort talks about why he chose the CDT programme

I joined the CDT programme three months after graduating with a 2:1 masters degree in Chemistry from the University of Manchester.

In the final year of my undergraduate degree I was looking at various PhD projects that were available and came across the Advanced Metallics CDT. I knew that I no longer wanted to stay in Chemistry and I was looking for a way to side step into engineering. 

I did not have too much knowledge of materials science but after reading about the subject it seemed to be an interesting blend of chemistry, physics and engineering. This sounded perfect for me so I applied and luckily made it onto the course. 

The first year was a great way to be introduced to the subject. It is a well structured taught course that built our knowledge up at a steady pace in a way that was thoroughly enjoyable. Being part of a cohort that had graduates from a number of disciplines meant that we all pitched in and helped each other through. 

I have chosen a project that has heavy ties with large companies in the nuclear sector and I am extremely happy with how the PhD is turning out. Most of the PhD projects come with industrial sponsors and this gives the CDT an edge over other PhDs in my opinion. 

I could not recommend this course more to graduates looking to build a career as a research scientist.

Alistair Garner from the 2010 cohort is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester

My PhD thesis focused on the corrosion performance of zirconium alloys for nuclear applications and was submitted in September 2014.

During the last year or so of the project, I had written a number of papers as part of the alternative style thesis (where a selection of papers are submitted along with other compulsory chapters as an alternative to the standard thesis format). It became clear to me that I really enjoyed writing and so when I was offered a postdoctoral position within the zirconium group at the University of Manchester, I jumped at the opportunity.

I am now almost two years into my three year postdoctoral contract and am very glad that I took the opportunity. It has enabled me to expand upon the skill set I acquired during my time within the Advanced Metallics CDT and I now feel I am equipped to hopefully continue with an academic career.

Although permanent academic positions are very competitive, the links I made with both industry and academia during my involvement with the CDT have definitely given me an advantage.

I now spend a lot of time at experiments at large-scale facilities such as Dalton Cumbria Facility and Diamond Light Source and enjoy travelling to international conferences.

I have also started teaching the Nuclear Technology Energy Consortium Master’s course on zirconium alloys, which was the course that led me to join the Advanced Metallics CDT in the first place. It is very satisfying to see how far I have come since joining the CDT and I could not recommend it more!

Advanced Metallic Systems CDT logo enlarged

EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Metallic Systems

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