Our REF 2021 submission includes 43 staff from three engineering departments. The number reflects a significant increase (238%) with respect to the previous REF 2014 submission. Our international staff profile is reflected in this REF submission, with staff originating from 15 different countries.

Our research income increased by 462% over the census period and broadened the diversity of our funding sources by almost 40%. Our total research income for this REF period is £6 million (including 77% from industrial collaborations). We have undertaken over 60 collaborations with industrial partners, ranging from small/medium enterprises to multinational companies.

The number of PhD students completing their degree with us has more than doubled (244%).

Results in REF 2021

  • 75% of our research outputs were judged to be internationally excellent or world-leading.
  • 63% of our impact was rated as having very considerable or outstanding reach and significance.
  • 38% of our research environment was judged as having the vitality and sustainability to produce internationally excellent or world-leading research.

Research areas

We have grown from four research groups in REF 2014 to nine currently, reflecting our expertise across vital engineering disciplines and our vision and commitment to address societal challenges.

Our goal is to develop and apply fundamental engineering principles to pivotal societal challenges, such as: 

  • Health, wellbeing and ageing-population support
  • Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine-maritime and inland-water research and the bioeconomy
  • Secure, clean and efficient energy/clean growth
  • Smart, green and integrated transport and the future of mobility
  • Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials
  • Artificial intelligence and data

Our submission includes research from nine groups:

Impact case studies

We submitted four impact case studies demonstrating the reach and significance of our research in the following areas:

Modern equipment in an operating room

Impact arising from advances in X-ray computed tomography for the bioengineering sector

Our research has led to an unprecedented understanding of the mechanics of the human foot from clinical images. The work pushed the boundaries of lab-based 3D X-ray microscopy in close collaboration with international industry partners operating in bioengineering (Biotrics, GSK), imaging (Zeiss, Thermofisher Scientific, LaVision) as well as UK National Facilities (Diamond Light Source) and healthcare professionals (consultant orthopaedic surgeons at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London).

A volume-time graph with an anomaly circled

Improved anomaly detection algorithms to benefit manufacturing and aviation

Our researchers have developed anomaly detection algorithms, revolutionising two different sectors’ engineering practices. Our algorithms were deployed in three dairies operated by Stork (a supplier of milk bottling machines), where faults were detected early, with a potential saving of £15 million. Our research has also transformed how flight data is analysed for a civil aviation company (Flight Data Services) resulting in the development of a world-first product (Express Readout) to detect errors in flight data recorders. 

Aerial view of a wastewater treatment works

Providing environmental and commercial benefits through the implementation of novel wastewater treatment technology

Our research was instrumental in the development and implementation of novel wastewater technologies, improving treatment performance and giving enhanced environmental protection and substantial cost savings. The research on blue-green water management systems has informed policy, improved environmental protection and provided commercial benefits to industrial collaborators.


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Transforming a local defence company through AI research

Our research into machine learning techniques transformed STS Defence, through the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled products, helping the company to enter new markets. We have enhanced safety and operations across multiple industries, contributing to the UK’s defence infrastructure. Our technique has been used in flashover detection in firefighting and detecting engine faults for marine, energy and defence applications.

Infrastructure and facilities