Celebrating 25th Anniversary of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Solid Mechanics

To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC), the Department of Engineering Science Solid Mechanics Group recently held a celebratory event that not only looked back on the UTC’s achievements but also marked the development of this special partnership.

25th Anniversary of the Rolls-Royce UTC Group ShotParticipating in the 25th Anniversary celebrations were senior representatives from Rolls-Royce, past and present academics and technicians from the Department’s Solid Mechanics Group, and Professor Carlos Ruiz, who was instrumental in establishing this special partnership. Celebrations included a strategy meeting, the unveiling of a Rolls-Royce titanium turbine blade, a drinks reception, a lecture by Professor Nic Petrinic titled, “25 Years of the UTC for Solid Mechanics: Present and Future” followed by dinner at Lincoln College.

Guests at the 25th Anniversary receptionSenior representatives from Rolls-Royce are seen here with academics from the Department of Engineering ScienceProfessor Ric Parker from Rolls-Royce is pictured here unveiling the turbine blade with Professor Lionel TarassenkoFrom left to right are: Professor David Hills, Professor Ric Parker, Emeritus Professor John Harding, Professor David Nowell, Mr Phil Ruffles and Emeritus Professor Carlos RuizProfessor Ric Parker presents Professor David Nowell with a set of books on the history of Rolls-Royce

Professor Ric Parker, Director of Research and Technology with Rolls-Royce, said: “The company faces challenges, and it is meeting those by the development of ingenious new designs which are a step change in progress from those it has evolved over many years.  These leaps involve risk, and the UTC sees its role to provide the underlying research needed to minimise those risks”. 

Professor David Hills, Director of the University Technology Centre for Solid Mechanics, added: “It is exciting for all the academics in the Solid Mechanics Group to see their work contribute not just to our understanding of science, but also to the development of the prestigious products of the world’s premier manufacturer of gas turbine”.

Professor Hills said: “The UTC may have been around for 25 years, but that is just the start.  We have, over that time, gradually developed our scope and our capacity.  Our most fundamental interests are in the impact of materials (or what happens to materials at very high rates of loading), contact mechanics and in the quantification of residual stresses.  But we are different from most other UTCs though, in that we will try to turn our hand to a range of problems in solid mechanics and do not restrict ourselves to those fields, or to particular components in the engine.  We would regard our strength (maybe not unique but close to it) to be the way we tackle problems through ingenious experiment, understanding of the underlying physics, and subsequent analysis.  We very much appreciate that modelling without underlying data obtained experimentally is hopeless, and we believe that this traditional ethos will remain our way of working and strength for the future”.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Head of the Department of Engineering Science, said: "".

From strength to strength

The UTC was established in 1990, in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, with the aim of undertaking strategic and applied research relevant to the company's technology base (power systems providing power for land, sea and air).  It grew from work Professor Carlos Ruiz conducted, initially in the ‘impact’ field but growing into a number of others. The concept of continuity of work and evolving personal relationships between staff of the UTC and those of Rolls-Royce has been the backbone behind the development of the Centre. 

The UTC, one of about 30 such centres funded by the company in the UK and worldwide, will now be moving on to the next stage of that evolution. It will combine its strengths with those of other UTCs, in particular those at Imperial College (in ‘vibrations’), and at the University of Nottingham (in ‘transmissions’), to see where common research interests and capital investment in apparatus can be combined to mutual advantage and the development of each. 

The Centre is an integrated part of the wider Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering Group and provides an excellent opportunity for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers to work on industrially relevant problems. Collaboration between Rolls-Royce and the Centre is strong and there are frequent meetings and secondments of staff.