Industrial Doctorate Centre: Optics and Photonics Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University


Since the launch of the current Photonics EngD programme in 2001, a collaboration between Heriot-Watt, St Andrews and Strathclyde Universities, the Heriot-Watt-based EngD Centre has established an excellent track-record for integration of industrially-relevant research and training; involving 49 projects and 29 different companies ranging from university start-ups to multinationals. We propose here a continuation of the existing EngD Centre as an enhanced collaboration between Heriot-Watt, St Andrews and Strathclyde Universities and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance. We build upon substantial expansions in research and training activity within Scottish photonics to broaden the scope and the academic constituency supporting the proposal. Whereas the original EngD Centre was supported by 27 staff active in photonics research, the proposed Centre will be supported by 87 academics of whom about 90% conduct research in core optics and photonics subjects; the remainder bring to the Centre expertise vital to the exploitation of Optics and Photonics Technologies; that is Signal and Image processing, Microsystems and Digital Tools for the development of photonic products. This group constitutes the largest coherent grouping of photonics researchers in the UK and account for about 50% of all EPSRC funding in photonics.The Centre will continue the mode of operation of our current EngD Centre: offering 75% industry-based research project with 25% coursework composed of technical modules taken from established MSc courses in photonics, microsystems, nanotechnology and signal and image processing together with business content from the Edinburgh Business School MBA course. Research Engineers will benefit from a vibrant and expanding graduate teaching programme delivered using state-of-the-art interactive video conferencing facilities that are highly suited to the EngD training concept.Projects and EngD students will be recruited using the industrial network of contacts and collaborations of our expanded academic staff, through showcase presentations and through interaction with the new Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network.The need for Engineering Doctorate graduates in optics and photonics areas is evident from the extrapolation of the increasing activity levels of the current Heriot-Watt engineering doctorate centre and by good alignment of the proposed programmes with priority areas highlighted in the 2006 Government Spending Review. The requirement for EngD graduates in these areas is further emphasised by the rapid growth of activity in market sectors ranging across defence and security, components and health care. All technical fields and market sectors exhibit an increasing activity. In the photonics field there are approximately 1,000 photonics companies in the UK supporting 250,000 jobs and generating 20Bn of revenue. The global photonics market of 250 Bn is growing at 11% per annum. Across all fields of engineering, the Royal academy of engineering have identified that the lack of UK-based students of sufficient quality endangers the supply chain of skilled personnel into UK industry and academia .


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