Alistair Revell

Senior Lecturer

Aerospace Engineering research theme

Alistair Revell

For me, it’s about providing students with the confidence in their ability and knowledge to be able to go out into the engineering world and succeed. On graduation I often think back to how far they have come since their first days with us, and for me, this is a clear measure of success.

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From student to staff

I arrived at The University of Manchester as a student 17 years ago. Although I have done various things between then and now, including working in industry and living in France, Spain and the US, I have been first a Lecturer and now Senior Lecturer at here for more than eight years.

I think there is a great combination of interesting city-life and a continual supply of great engineering opportunities available here at the University. The ever-increasing ambition and growth we have seen in the past few years is very exciting.

We cover a very wide range of technical expertise and create a lot of opportunity for cross-theme research activity. We also have an extensive portfolio of industrial collaboration that can always lead to new opportunities.

Teaching

One of the things I most enjoy about teaching is helping students join the dots between different bits of theory and what they have been taught in previous units.

Courses are developed to provide a blend of fundamental theory and more topical examples to resonate with current affairs. In more advanced level units, the content can be adapted from brand new research; sometimes feeding directly from ongoing research projects. In this way, students are aware of cutting-edge developments immediately, which encourages creative thinking.

For me, it’s about providing students with the confidence in their ability and knowledge to be able to go out into the engineering world and succeed. On graduation I often think back to how far they have come since their first days with us, and for me, this is a clear measure of success.

Research

I enjoy the opportunity to apply new techniques to different problems and to gain further insight into a problem. I enjoy learning new things and sensing parallels between different problems. This kind of advanced technical troubleshooting for me is ‘real’ engineering; applying technology and techniques to solve a particular problem.

Other great aspects are the autonomy, the freedom to decide one’s direction, and the chance to just investigate something on a whim.

I also really appreciate the sense of international collaboration that we often feel; researchers across the globe willingly open up results and advice and share solutions in a way that would never be achieved in the business world.

Fluid mechanics

My research focuses on using computers to tackle fluid mechanics for a very wide range of applications; from drag reduction of an aircraft to heat transfer in a nuclear reactor. Also looking at how structures bend and interact with the fluid flow; for example the blades of a wind turbine, or the blood flow through deformable arteries. This involves developing a model of the physical world, in the same way you might have in a realistic computer game. Most of this relies on using cutting-edge computer hardware and working out how to make the calculations as fast as possible.

We are currently working on methods that enable highly complex geometries to be simulated (static and moving, rigid and deformable). We also develop fluid dynamics solvers for highly parallel architectures suitable for near real-time simulation with potential use for medical applications.

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