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Chairman's Annual Report - 23rd October 2015

After the completion of the Annual General meeting (AGM) on Friday 24th October 2014, the new season commenced with the third annual student conference in the prestigious Neil Armstrong meeting room at the Aerospace Technology Institute, Cranfield. I am very thankful to our Secretary Dr Simon Prince for not only hosting this Odyssey through the day's events but also taking part in assessing the students' performances. Since all the presentations (listed below) were of a very high standard, Simon and the other two judges (Professor Moji Moatamedi and John Farley OBE) did not find it easy to select a winner.

Simon Hutt (Assessment of the Wear Properties of Carbon Nanotube - epoxy and graphene - epoxy composites) and Stephen Grigg (Assessment of Damage Detection in Composite Structures Using 3D Vibrometry) from Cardiff University,

Daniel J. Grinham (A Conceptual Design of a Ramjet Inlet and its Performance Assessment) from Sheffield Hallam University,

Oliver Witt (Design Manufacture and Test of UAV for BMFA Electric Lift Challenge) and Thomas Crabb (Commercial Aircraft Flying in Formation) from University of Salford,

Jana-Sabrina Stucke (Material Selection & FE Modelling of a Light Sport Aircraft Landing Gear) and Tobias Buedel (Constant Volume Combustion for Gas Turbine Engines) from the University of the West of England,

Harraj Marway (Solar-Fuel Cell Powered Aircraft) from the University of Hertfordshire,

Rui Wu (Elastic Composite Skin for Pure Shear Morphing Structures) from the University of Manchester, and

Rebecca Mateer (Modelling & Simulation of Small Scale helicopter operating to maritime training vessel) from the University of Liverpool.

There was a question and answer session at the end of each presentation and Rebecca Mateer was judged the overall winner with Tobias Buedel and Stephen Grigg as equal runners-up. However, all the contestants were awarded certificates and rewarded with cash prizes. It was a splendidly enjoyable way to start the 2014/15 academic session.

Based on the experiences over the past several years, it has now become the norm for our Association to sponsor the annual Multiphysics Conference which was held on Thursday 11th – Friday 12th December 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria. One paper that was of particular interest was entitled “Failure of an Aircraft Seat Tube” involving random vibration analyses to estimate the fatigue properties using power spectral density profiles. It was a pleasure to direct this conference yet again under the presidency of Professor Moji Moatamedi. This year’s conference will mark the tenth anniversary and will be held at Imperial College, London on Thu 10th – Fri 11th December 2015.

The second annual student competition organised by the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) and sponsored by the Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow for the second time, had a slight modification in that the essay entitled “Can engineers make a beneficial contribution to society?” had to be accompanied by a one-minute video production. I was again appointed one of the judges along with Professors Mike Bramhall, Helen Atkinson and David Harrison and this year’s winner of the £1000 prize was first year MEng undergraduate Tim Butterfield from University of Sheffield who made a presentation during the annual EPC Congress held at Salford University in mid-April. The runner-up who was awarded the prize money of £500 was PhD candidate Adrian Mallory from the University of Edinburgh.

At the previous AGM, John Farley stated his wish to stand down as our President at the end of the sixth year of his tenure. He was appointed on First April 2009 during an AAU event that was held in the Sopwith room at the Headquarters of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in Mayfair. By coincidence, it also happened to be the day when the RAeS secured the freehold ownership of the premises after outright purchase of the property from Crown Estates. John’s invaluable guidance has proved to be of enormous value and has given our Association enhanced credibility particularly amongst the undergraduates and the postgraduates whose motivation for taking part in the annual AAU Student Conference involved the desire to meet him. I am delighted to say that he will continue to impart his wisdom as and when necessary in his new role as our Immediate Past President and would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for this outstanding leadership.

Professor Mike West was appointed as our new President on the First of April earlier this year after serving as our Vice President for a few years. He began his career in the aircraft industry working at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics (HSD) where he was involved mainly with missile and aircraft flight simulation. His PhD was based on research he conducted on behalf of HSD. After a prolonged secondment to the UK wave energy research programme from 1975 – 91, he became a full-time academic at Coventry University. He was appointed the Head of Department of Systems & Electronic Engineering which offered degree programmes in Electronics, Telecommunications, Information and Communications Technology, Avionics, Aerospace Systems and Aerospace Technology until his retirement. He has lectured in electronics & instrumentation on a range of courses and also in orbital mechanics to final year aerospace students. He was a key Co-Founder of the AAU in 1997 and was its Secretary and/or Treasurer from its inception for over ten years. I had no hesitation in using the Chairman’s privilege in being the first to congratulate Mike in his new role before flooding him with the many duties the post entails!

This year’s “Flight Simulation and Universities Seminar” with the Flight Simulation Group (FSG) of the RAeS was held on Thursday 21st May at the University of the West of England. The three presentations in the afternoon were followed by a detailed discussion by personnel from the industry, the academia and the learned societies, each representing their perspectives for the future. Next year’s event is likely to be held at the Thales facility in Crawley.

This year also saw the return of Coventry University as one of our members after a lapse of a few years thanks to the efforts of Dr Mike Bromfield. It is particularly pleasing to welcome Coventry back into the fold as personnel from this institution including our President were key players who founded our Association. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Bromfield for hosting today’s Odyssey of events and taking care of all the catering and car parking arrangements.

This academic year (2015 – 16) will unfortunately be the last time that the Aerospace MSc bursary scheme will operate as originally planned. It was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron during the Farnborough Air Show in July 2012 and was jointly funded by the industry and the government with £3 million each to meet the additional demand for engineers in the UK. The scheme is managed by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the RAeS. Many graduates who would otherwise have been unable to read for a degree at that level have benefitted from this scheme enabling them to achieve higher levels of recognition in the aero industry worldwide.

One key issue that has been dragging for some time was our web site being in a state of disrepair for quite a while due to a combination of lack of expertise on my part and all concerned being excessively busy with more urgent tasks. A few months ago, Vice Chairman Professor Moji Moatamedi who is much more computer literate than I am suggested that we enlist the help of Dr Hassan Khawaja from The Arctic University of Norway who maintains the web site for the International Society of Multiphysics. Within the space of a month, most of the major problems relating to our web site had been resolved and the structure streamlined for easy navigation.

Although there is more work to be done in putting the finishing touches, the web site is now much more user-friendly and functional. Furthermore, since our service provider Verio gave us 12 months’ notice of termination of our contract due to company take-over next year, the decision was made to switch to a new provider Namesco from 01 October 2015. Since Namesco host the web site for the International Society of Multiphysics as well, we are hoping to negotiate a discounted fee. Another surprise that lay in wait was the totally unexpected “expiry” on 02 August 2015 of our uniform resource locator which has now been brought back firmly under our control. I am most thankful indeed to both Hassan and Moji for sorting out so many problems in record time.

The papers scheduled for the fourth annual student conference this afternoon are:

Matthew Johnson (Investigation of aerodynamic flows around airfoils with flaps) and Ayman Keir (BMFA Heavy Lift Challenge Design of a UAV Propulsion system, Performance optimisation and propeller noise abatement) from Sheffield Hallam University,

Bethany Fleetwood (Runway Performance of Aircraft) from Salford University,

Aidan Nicholls (Design, Develop and Build a Micro Jet Engine) and Wajahat Ahsan (Vortex Flow in a Hybrid Rocket Motor) from Kingston University,

Sebastian Hunter (Towards the Definition of Manufacturing Tolerance for UAV Systems using CFD: Panel Gaps) and Anthony Murira (Red Bull Air Race: Flightpath Optimisation - Plan vs Actual) from Coventry University,

Jonathan Berry (How increasing workload impacts on the decision making and accuracy of flying of differing levels of pilot experience) from Liverpool University,

Frazer Harland (Investigating the impacts of chevron exhaust nozzles on the airflow of gas turbine engines) and Danielle Patton (Effect of exhaust nozzle design on flow characteristics, flow mixing, engine noise and engine performance) from the University of Hertfordshire,

Rui Wu (A multi-degree-of-freedom morphing aerofoil concept with a highly active trailing edge) from the University of Manchester.

As always, I would like to emphasise that none of this would have been possible had it not been for the unlimited support I received from the members and the Executives. I would especially like to thank President Professor Mike West and Immediate Past President John Farley OBE for their much needed guidance & wisdom, Vice Chairman Professor Moji Moatamedi and our new Web Master Dr Hassan Khawaja for their tremendous effort on dramatically improving our web site, Treasurer Dr Andrew Lewis for keeping us pecuniarily solvent thanks to his excellent stewardship of our coffer in addition to organising the excellent annual student conference and of course Secretary Dr Simon Prince for his most valuable inputs. Thanks are also due to Dr Rashid Ali for the careful audit of our financial accounts earlier today.

My heartfelt thanks once again to all my colleagues from member institutions and their students for the continued success of our Association.

Thurai Rahulan PhD FRAeS
AAU Chairman

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