Our Team

Dave Thompson is the General Manager of NIACE.  Dave received a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and an MPhil in Aeronautical Engineering  from QUB, is a CEng and member of the IMechE. He has spent 30 years in industrial NPD and R&D roles.  Companies he has worked for include multi-nationals and startups in industries such as aerospace, medical devices, power generation and analytical instrumentation (e.g. Bombardier Aerospace, Medtronic and Medtronic). Dave works to bring companies and universities together for the development of new technologies that will create commercial market benefit, increase the knowledge and technical ability of the supply chain and create closer links between academia, industry and research centres.

 

We work with leading experts including

Dr. Robert S. Pierce received his B.AeroEng degree with honours from Monash University in 2009, having also spent some time as a research engineer with Advanced Composite Structures Australia (formerly the CRC-ACS). He was awarded his PhD in engineering from Monash University in 2015, which focussed on the simulation of vacuum-assisted resin infusion for complex composite structures, in association with Boeing Aerostructures Australia.

Immediately following his PhD, Dr. Pierce moved to Queen’s University Belfast to develop and undertake an industrially-motivated project at the NIACE Centre. His research interests in the field of composites include out-of-autoclave manufacturing, woven fabrics, process modelling, non-destructive inspection and material characterisation.

 

Dr Nikolaos Perogamvros received his Diploma and PhD degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics of the University of Patras, Greece. Currently, he is a post-doctoral research fellow at Queen's University Belfast and at NIACE.

His scientific interests and specialization are in the fields of lightweight materials characterization and structural element testing at various loading rates, as well as in the numerical simulation of the behaviour of advanced materials and composite fastened parts subjected to quasi-static or dynamic loads. His ongoing project focuses on the structural health monitoring of long life assets which contain composite materials.

 

Dr Spiridon Koutsonas is a Research Associate based at NIACE. Prior to joining Ulster University, Spiridon gained a BSc in Physics from the University of Bath, followed by an MSc (Dist.) in Polymer Physics at Reading University. He then undertook a PhD in Polymer Composites Mechanical Engineering at Nottingham University.

Research interests are in the use of advanced polymers (thermosets and thermoplastics) in 2D and 3D novel woven textile composite preforms. In particular, his work involves improvement of mechanical properties, fluid flow behaviour using FE Modelling and computer simulations. His current activities focus on experimental research and predictive modelling of advanced polymer composites structures for aerospace, automotive, civil applications and energy production.

 

Dr Krzystof Rodzen obtained his Ph.D. degree from Macromolecular Chemistry received from Charles University in Prague, connected with working as a researcher in Department of Nanostructured Polymers and Composites in Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Science. MSc degree from Chemical Technology graduated in Rzeszow University of Technology, Poland. Electronics Technician Competency Certificate obtained after graduating from Technical School of Electronics, Rzeszow, Poland.

During Ph.D. studies he worked on several topics concerning synthesis of: amphiphilic block copolymers, nanoparticles, reversible crosslinked rubbers, pH- and temperature- responsive hydrogels ,SiOC ceramic foams. Currently working on rapid prototyping and tooling using FDM 3D printing to reduce product development time and cost using layer-by-layer deposition technique.

 

Dr. M. Ali Aravand received his BSc and MSc degrees in polymer engineering from AUT and TMU universities in Iran. He was then awarded his PhD in Materials Engineering in 2014 from KU Leuven in Belgium.

His PhD focused on the design, manufacture and testing of hierarchically structured carbon fibre epoxy composites with enhanced fracture toughness and lower damage initiation threshold.  Part of his research work on CNT grafted (fuzzy) FRP composites, was  in collaboration with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in USA (NECST consortium

Dr. Aravand’s research interest is focused on hierarchically structured advanced fibre reinforced composites, fracture behaviour and toughening of polymer composites, and design and manufacture of hybrid composites via injection overmoulding. 

 

Professor Brian G. Falzon is the Head of School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast and is the Royal Academy of Engineering – Bombardier Chair in Aerospace Composites.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Chartered Engineer. Between 2008 and 2012 he was the Foundation Chair in Aerospace Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and academic staff member at Imperial College London between 2000 and 2008. Prof Falzon is internationally renowned for his work on the computational analysis, design, manufacture and testing of advanced composite materials and structures. In 2008 Prof Falzon was awarded the George Taylor Prize by the Royal Aeronautical Society and in 2009 was honoured with an Australian Leadership Award, in recognition of his contribution to issues of national importance and demonstrated leadership in his field. He is a member of a number of professional organisations and scientific committees, and on the Editorial Board of three journals. 

 

Prof Eileen Harkin-Jones works in the processing of advanced thermoplastic polymers with emphasis on developing process-structure-property understanding. She has worked extensively in the area of free surface moulding processing including thermoforming, blow moulding, blown film extrusion and rotational moulding. Work has in the past ten years concentrated on the development of advanced polymer nanocomposite materials. She is currently developing new advanced thermoplastic composite materials for the aerospace and medical device industry using a range of processes including injection moulding, thermoforming and various additive manufacturing techniques. She has published over 200 papers and won research funding in excess of £12 million.

Eileen Harkin-Jones holds the Bombardier-Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Composites Engineering at the University of Ulster since 2014. Prior to that she held the Boxmore Chair in Polymer Engineering in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011, a Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering in 2017 and awarded an OBE for services to higher education in 2013

 

Su Taylor is a Professor of Structural Engineering and the Dean of Research for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science at Queen’s University Belfast.  

She is a Vice President of  ISHMII and leads the Intelligent Infrastructure group within the School of Natural and Built Environment in Queen’s. In 2016, Su hosted the annual Civil Structural Health Monitoring Workshop (CSHM-6 www.qub.ac.uk/sites/CSHM-6  ) as part of the ISHMII series. A prioritisation of her research is the resilience our built environment by investigating the use of  corrosion resistant advanced composites and Thompsons bridge in County Fermanagh was the first bridge in the world built using Basalt Fibre Reinforced Polymer. She has been involved in several Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) rated as ‘outstanding’ including the development of the Queen’s University’s patented FlexiArchTM bridge system which makes use of polymeric reinforcement. She hosted the 7th International conference on the use of Advanced Composites in Construction  in 2013 (ACIC-2013 http://acic-conference.com/previous-conferences/acic-2013/ . She is a council member of the International Institute for FRP in Construction (IIFC) is the only international professional organisation dedicated to the use of fibre-reinforced composite materials (FRP) in Civil infrastructure. 

 

Dr Edward Archer is a Senior Lecturer of Advanced Composite materials in the School of Engineering and a member of the Engineering Research Institute.

His research is focused on manufacturing and characterising 3D woven composite reinforcement structures and the prediction of their properties with key aspects of the work carried out in collaboration with major companies in several industrial sectors.  Dr Archer has developed a bespoke composites training course for Aerospace professionals which he has delivered to 1200 Engineers in UK and Canada over the last 5 years. He has published many journal papers in this field and his research group operates both within the Engineering Composites Research Centre at Ulster and at Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE) in Belfast. He is Technical Director at the University spinout company Axis Composites Ltd. 

 

Adrian Murphy is Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. He has published over one hundred and twenty journal and conference articles, including a significant number on design and analysis methods for aircraft structures and manufacturing processes. He has supervised and co-supervised ten PhD projects to completion and managed EU and industrially funded projects [AIRBUS, Bombardier Aerospace, Constellium (previously ALCAN)], developing significant experimental validation of his work. A winner of the Thomas Hawksley medal in 2006 and the Kenneth Harris James Prize (2006) and SAGE Best Paper Award 2012 (Journal of Materials: Design and Applications), he has a reputation for excellence in research with impact to industry. He sits on the Royal Aeronautical Society Structures and Materials Specialist committee, ESDU Aerospace Structures Committee, IMechE Aerospace Materials & Structures Technical Activity Committee and is a member of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Structures Specialist Advisory Group.

His key research interests can be divided into general but interconnected categories: Structural design and manufacturing, Cost modelling, Multi-physics simulations.

 

Dr Alistair McIlhagger is a Reader in the School of Engineering and a member of the Engineering Research Institute (ERI). He is Director of the Engineering Composites Research Centre (ECRE) at Ulster University. Alistair’s research interests are focussed on the development of smart/functional nano-composites and novel composite textiles for aerospace, renewable and transport applications.  Most recently, he has been working on the design, development and subsequent manufacturing of advanced textile reinforcements for composite structures through a variety of research programmes including those funded by TSB, EU and international industrial partners.  

Alistair is a co-founder of Axis Composites, a university spin out company established to commercialise advanced preforming and associated technologies.  His role has resulted in securing significant contracts across different sectors including aerospace, materials development and training (Horizon 2020, InnovateUK, NIAECC, private venture, etc.)

 

Kim Robin joined the NIACE team in November 2011. She assists general manager Dave Thompson and is responsible for the day to day management of the office.  Kim’s extensive admin career spans the public and private sectors and her previous administrative experience includes support roles with BT, Ulster Bank and Belfast City Council. Kim was also employed as Secretariat for the Advisory Councils to the Northern Ireland Environment Minister.