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Building a solid future with the industry

Leading the way in cutting-edge research focused on engineering and materials, Brunel secured funding in2012 for the £60 million Cambridge based National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) - one of the largest single research grants the University has received.

Partnered with industry, and in collaboration with technology, engineering and research organisation TWI, NSIRC addresses challenges in structural safety, additionally providing more than 100 training places for Brunel's postgraduate students. It boasts one of the first PhD programmes in structural integrity, and the research undertaken focuses on a variety of sectors, from aerospace to energy. Aiming to mirror the needs of industry, NSIRC will engage with 500 students in its first 10 years by developing new technologies to extend the lifetime of structures. 

Industry applicable research is essential in an age of a global shortage of structural engineers and experts in fields such as materials, fractures, fatigue, inspection and corrosion.

While these problems are rarely brought into the spotlight, the cost of corrosion alone is estimated at trillions of dollars internationally.  At the same time, says Brunel's Deputy-Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Geoff Rodgers, the results of structural integrity and management fails can be "catastrophic".

"All types of products and plants areat risk if designers, manufacturers and users don't understand how to build safe structures," said Prof Rodgers.making materials and structures safer,"said Professor Rodgers.

If simple joints belonging to a mechanism break down, an entireoperation can collapse. By finding new materials to counteract damaging effects of conditions, such as natural erosion, researchers hope to secure economic growth for British businesses, creating job opportunities and the development of new products.

"This award is a great opportunity for Brunel, with our partner TWI, to create and lead a national centre where universities and industry can carry out research, addressing the long-term challenges associated with making materials and structures safer, "said Professor Rodgers.