I've always been interested in science and research and originally worked in physics and thunderstorm science, followed by the atmospheric sciences, and now electrical engineering. I always knew what area of science I wanted to work in—namely thunderstorm related—and what initially attracted me to The University of Manchester was the research group specialising in lightning and thunderstorm electrification.
The research project in electrical engineering that I'm currently involved in looks at novel coatings applied to power electronics circuit boards used in aircraft. With the industry drive toward an ‘all-electric’, lighter aircraft, there is an increased demand for higher voltages being used in the power systems. Higher voltages bring problems in the form of electricity ‘leaks’ that can cause damage and electrical failure. These are analogous to water leaks at higher water pressures. We’re researching ways to prevent these ‘leaks’ and associated problems, and protect the circuit boards so they can function normally under the increased electrical load. If this is achieved, aircraft can become lighter, cleaner, and cheaper to use which will have a large positive impact on the global environment.
A typical day consists of designing and conducting experimental research, analysing the data and extracting meaningful conclusions, and reporting these findings to the rest of the team and any industry partners.
My current research is similar to other research I've worked on in different fields in that it’s challenging and interesting, as most science is. It’s difficult, but rewarding to progress our understanding in both the esoteric ‘blue-skies’ aspects of science that underpins most major discoveries, as well as directly researching practical real-world applications when possible.
In addition to the standard methods of internal seminars and international conferences, our research is shared through engagement in public outreach events for children and families, hosting research group-centred special seminar sessions at the headquarters of big industries, and creating educational public internet content. We also collaborate internally between staff across faculties on interdisciplinary projects when possible.
The current project I am involved with will hopefully lead to changes to how aircraft operate electrically with the ultimate goal of reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint on the environment on a global scale.