University: University of Bristol. Supervisor: Prof Paul Wilcox. Sponsor: TWI. Contact: P.Wilcox@bristol.ac.uk Start date: January 2019

The use of Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now commonplace among a wide variety of industry sectors, including computer gaming, marketing and security. While some work has been carried out for NDT, there are a lack of commercially available systems that exploit the technology.  Primarily this is due to the complex nature of NDT components, inspection parameters and obtainable data. Consequently, there is a real need to determine the applicability of a range of AI techniques for use in ultrasonic inspection and for NDT in a wider context.

Specifically, it should be investigated which AI approach is most applicable for a range of ultrasonic inspection methods. The proposed research will (through academic rigor) seek to establish a solid understanding of available AI methods establish their suitability for NDT. Flexible AI algorithms should then be developed for use with ultrasonically acquired data. The benefits and limitations of the chosen approaches should be assessed through a parametric study on real-world industrial samples. Although AI methods can possibly be used with a wide variety of NDT techniques, the scope of this project is to consider ultrasonic inspection for the well-defined girth-weld inspection scenario only.  This is to ensure parameter inputs are minimised while techniques and algorithms are developed.

During the 4 years you will spend approximately 9 months on advanced technical and professional development courses – spending the first year at Bristol University and the remaining time at TWI Technology Centre, Wales. The project will require occasional travel on a short-term basis within the UK and overseas.

About TWI

TWI Technology Centre Wales is a regional office of TWI Ltd. It is a state of the art facility offering research and development in cutting edge inspection technologies vital to industrial structural integrity management. The aim is to ensure that industry is provided with safe, reliable and cost effective solutions and services. Located in Port Talbot, TWI Wales is within easy reach of Cardiff, (Wales’ capital City), Swansea City, as well as the Gower and Pembrokeshire peninsulas.

Funding Notes

The post is supported by a bursary and fees (at the UK/EU student rate) provided by the UKRI RCNDE Centre for Doctoral Training.

You will receive a tax-free stipend circa £21K pa for the first year rising to £24K as part of an initiative known as AEMRI (Advanced Engineering Materials Research Institute), which is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) using European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).