The future of engineering through CDT success

The University of Liverpool is poised to play a pivotal role in the development of the next generation of scientists and engineers, following a significant funding boost exceeding £14 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

This investment will enable the University to offer specialised training to PhD students across several critical fields, including digital chemistry, net zero maritime initiatives, and nuclear as well as fusion power.

The funding has been allocated for the establishment of two new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and the continuation of support for two existing CDTs where the University acts as a lead partner. Professor Wiebe Van Der Hoek, Executive Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Univers ity’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, expressed his enthusiasm about leading two new CDTs that will bolster science and engineering PhD education in areas deemed a priority for the University, the region, and the nation. He also highlighted the University’s role as a key partner in two CDTs receiving renewed funding, showcasing a commitment to collaboration and broad participation within the programme.

Spotlight on new centres

The EPSRC CDT in Digital and Automated Materials Chemistry, spearheaded by Professor Alessandro Troisi, is set to produce a new wave of researchers skilled in digital and automated materials chemistry. Students will be trained in the application of digital tools, including AI, algorithms, and robotics, to tackle complex materials chemistry challenges such as design, synthesis, and characterisation. This initiative is expected to drive innovation and contribute significantly to sustainability and net zero objectives.

The Centre, supported by various industrial and academic partners, will operate within the University’s Materials Innovation Factory (MIF), a leader in utilising AI, robotics, and machine learning in materials discovery and also the co-host of the UK’s new £12 million AI hub for Chemistry.

The EPSRC CDT in Net Zero Maritime Energy Solutions (N0MES), led by the University of Liverpool in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, aims to train students in addressing net zero energy challenges within the maritime sector. Under the guidance of Professor John Bridgeman, the Centre will work closely with a host of partners to co-create PhD projects that span a broad spectrum of issues, from maritime-based renewable energy to the environmental impacts of renewable energy generation.

Renewed support for existing CDTs

The University also plays a crucial role in two CDTs that have secured continuation funding. The SATURN CDT focuses on bridging the skills gap in sustainable and reliable clean energy production through nuclear power, involving collaborations with several other leading universities. Meanwhile, the Fusion Power CDT is preparing research leaders to propel the UK fusion industry and innovate fusion power plant development, with Dr Kirsty McKay leading the University’s contributions.

These CDTs form part of a nearly £1 billion government investment in doctoral skills within engineering and physical sciences, announced by the Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan. She emphasised the importance of investing in the UK’s talent to pioneer new discoveries, highlighting the role of artificial intelligence and future telecoms in maintaining the UK’s status as a research and development hub. This strategic investment underlines the nation’s commitment to nurturing the skills required to unlock the potential of future technologies and sustain its leading position in cutting-edge research.