PhD Scholarship in Civil Engineering at the University of Edinburgh

PhD Scholarship in Civil Engineering at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh offers a scholarship in Civil Engineering to highly talented prospective students wishing to pursue a research programme in Scotland for the academic session 2021-2022.

This project focuses on Flexible and Conformable Origami Metasurfaces—theory, manufacturing and experimentation.


Scholarship SponsorThe University of Edinburgh
Scholarships levelPhD studentship
Award AmountNot Specified
Fellowship PeriodThree years
Study areaCivil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics
Opening dateFebruary 16, 2021
Closing dateAugust 15, 2021

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Project Description

Driven by recent advances in manufacturing, materials sciences, and a concatenation of demanding engineering challenges, structured materials with novel properties and encoded functionalities gain more attention, given their versatility to tackle problems in various situations. At the forefront of this endeavour, origami designs play a role in a broad range of highly advanced human-made gadgets, such as the engineering of large deployable solar sails in space and life-saving heart stents.  
We will seek to understand how origami structures may significantly change their geometry and undergo large deformations in response to various external stimuli. Challenging problems arise when trying to programme their mechanics and control their shape in the non-linear regime; hence, generating predictive mathematical models is central to this project.

When excessive deformation is applied, these structures may become unstable along their equilibrium path, wherein non-trivial post-buckling behaviour would require careful analysis. Beyond the instability threshold, rapid and dramatic changes of the internal geometry occur. However, when carefully designed, the initial architecture may lead to the formation of shapes and motions that display predictable, adaptable, and desirable mechanical responses.
Examples of questions to be addressed:  
• Focusing on pleated sheets and shells, can we propose generalised mathematical models for origami kinematics with an overall view of producing form-finding structures?
• Is it possible to advance the mechanical description of origami metasurfaces and find generalised and homogenisation models that relax rigidity constraints typically enforced in traditional origami?  
• Can we have design principles that apply across multiple scales, from table-top experiments (e.g., 3D printed) to larger timber structures?
An ideal candidate must have a strong desire to work in theoretical mechanics and/or applied mathematics, with a good knowledge of the mechanics of thin and slender structures (plates, shells, and rods) and stability theory. Experience with analytical modelling, finite element/discrete element simulations, and willingness to take on activities involving table-top experimental mechanics are required.

Knowledge of differential geometry, 3D printing, Topology Optimisation, Rhinoceros 3D, and/or continuation software will be a plus. The successful candidate is expected to conduct an ambitious research program and engage in interdisciplinary research with local and international groups.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is August 15, 2021

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:


Minimum entry qualification – an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, or Mathematics, possibly supported by an MSc Degree.

Award Information

Tuition fees, stipend and research costs are available for Home students (UK or EU with settled/pre-settled status who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years).  International students not eligible.

Principal Supervisor – Dr. Marcelo Dias

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