University awarded £30 million to train the next generation of science and engineering researchers through four new Centres for Doctoral Training

  • Four Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) will train more than 350 doctoral students after being awarded over £30m funding.
  • The CDTs will support in developing the UK’s skills base in critical technologies by training students to tackle key challenges such as meeting net-zero targets through advanced materials, nuclear energy, robotics and AI.
  • Manchester is in the top three most-awarded institutions for CDTs after University of Bristol and University College London, and equal to University of Edinburgh.

The University of Manchester has been awarded £30 million funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for four Centres for Doctoral Training as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) £500 million investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills across the UK.

Building on Manchester’s long-standing record of sustained support for doctoral training, the new CDTs will boost UK expertise in critical areas such as advanced materials, AI, and nuclear energy.

The CDTs include:

  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in 2D Materials of Tomorrow (2DMoT) – with cross-disciplinary research in the science and applications of two-dimensional materials, this CDT will focus on a new class of advanced materials with potential to transform modern technologies, from clean energy to quantum engineering. Led by Professor Irina Grigorieva, Professor of Physics at The University of Manchester.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Developing National Capability for Materials 4.0 – this CDT will bring together students from a range of backgrounds in science and engineering to drive forward the digitisation of materials research and innovation. Led by Professor William Parnell, Professor of Applied Mathematics at The University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and AI for Net Zero – this CDT will train and develop the next generation of multi-disciplinary robotic systems engineers to help revolutionise lifecycle asset management, in support of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy. Led by Dr Simon Watson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Manchester.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in SATURN (Skills And Training Underpinning a Renaissance in Nuclear) – the primary aim of SATURN is to provide high quality research training in science and engineering, underpinning nuclear fission technology. Led by Professor Scott Heath, Professor of Nuclear Chemistry at The University of Manchester.

Manchester received joint-third most awards across UK academia, and will partner with University of Cambridge, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, Lancaster University, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, University of Oxford, University of Sheffield, University of Strathclyde and the National Physical Laboratory to prepare the next generation of researchers, specialists and industry experts across a wide range of sectors and industries.

In addition to leading these four CDTs, The University of Manchester is also collaborating as a partner institution on the following CDTs:

  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fusion Power, based at University of York.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science: Harnessing Aerosol Science for Improved Security, Resilience and Global Health, based at University of Bristol.
  • EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing, based at Cardiff University.

Along with institutional partnerships, all CDTs work with industrial partners, offering opportunities for students to develop their skills and knowledge in real-world environments which will produce a pipeline of highly skilled researchers ready to enter industry and take on sector challenges.

Professor Scott Heath, Associate Dean for Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers at The University of Manchester said of the awards: “We are delighted that the EPSRC have awarded this funding to establish these CDTs and expose new cohorts to the interdisciplinary experience that researching through a CDT encourages. By equipping the next generation of researchers with the expertise and skills necessary to tackle complex issues, we are laying the groundwork for transformative solutions that will shape industries and societies for generations to come.”

Announced by Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, this round of funding is the largest investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills to-date, totalling more than £1 billion. Science and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, said: “As innovators across the world break new ground faster than ever, it is vital that government, business and academia invests in ambitious UK talent, giving them the tools to pioneer new discoveries that benefit all our lives while creating new jobs and growing the economy.

“By targeting critical technologies including artificial intelligence and future telecoms, we are supporting world class universities across the UK to build the skills base we need to unleash the potential of future tech and maintain our country’s reputation as a hub of cutting-edge research and development.”

These CDTs join the already announced UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Decision Making for Complex Systems. This CDT led by Dr Mauricio A Álvarez, Senior Lecturer in Machine Learning at The University of Manchester, will train the next generation of AI researchers to develop AI methods designed to accelerate new scientific discoveries – specifically in the fields of astronomy, engineering biology and material science.

The first cohort of AI CDT, SATURN CDT and Developing National Capability for Materials 4.0 CDT students will start in the 2024/2025 academic year, recruitment for which will begin shortly. 2DMoT CDT and RAINZ CDT will have their first cohort in 2025/26.

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