Year 3

Third year teaching continues with core lecturing and laboratories but a focus begins to grow on larger individual pieces of coursework and research based work. This is intentional: engineering working life demands academic ability, creativity and self-motivation. We do not throw you in entirely at the deep end, however, and provide academic guidance and support through regular meetings to start you on this journey.

For a complete list of Aerospace third year units, please visit the Undergraduate prospectus. This page is intended to give highlights of the engineering work you will cover rather than a full listing of modules.

Individual exploratory project

Year 3 is where you bring your knowledge and experience to bear on a more complicated individual problem through our individual exploratory project. This work runs from the autumn term through to the spring term and the objective is for you to increasingly guide your own academic development.

You will be able to choose to work with an academic drawn from one of our fluids and aerodynamics, structures and composites or dynamics research groups.

You will meet your supervisor on a weekly basis and have a second adviser who is a postgraduate research student in the relevant area (and your supervision will benefit from this extra depth).

The types of project are extremely varied, but examples include:

  • modify a computer program to predict fluid flow behaviour: students have optimised aerofoils, simulated rain hitting ventilation louvres, developed new ways to describe the geometry of aerofoils, optimised a formula student car, designed a rocket nozzle;
  • design and test a new composite material: work has included fatigue testing of materials, developing techniques for composites to ‘bleed’ and heal damage, working on prosthetics, using composite design techniques to optimise wind turbines;
  • program the control system for an unmanned aircraft: you might explore vulnerabilities in aircraft systems, design an autopilot to ‘perch’ a UAV, explore bird aerodynamics, develop software to plan a mission across mountainous terrain in a fuel economic manner.

The outcome of the IXP is a research theme that you can subsequently extend in to your final year individual project. If you want to change the idea, don’t worry though. Research work often leads you down unexpected paths, and if you wish to adjust the topic of your work we will guide you through that process.

The best aspect of my degree so far has been the ability to go away and research something that I find interesting. There was a lot of support to help me achieve this and I was guided and pushed to deliver a piece of research that I feel genuinely proud of.

Stephen Grey (Aerospace Engineering)

An absolutely fantastic unit which reminded me why I've chosen to study engineering! It's been a great experience to develop a working relationship with a member of staff, rather than just seeing them as a lecturer.

Student feedback questionnaire

Our strong research ethos has a direct influence on our teaching. An individual exploratory research project in Year 3 provides an opportunity for each student to choose a topic and undertake independent research under the guidance of world leading experts. The diversity of topics covered ranges from energy harvesting to unsteady aerodynamics, advanced composites to active vibration damping, UAVs to renewable energy, high performance computing to landing gear dynamics.

Professor Christian Allen, Head of Department
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