Philip Withers FREng, Professor of materials science at the University of Manchester, will speak about the fascinating behaviour of materials and their microstructures, when he gives the Academy’s Regional Lecture.

Professor Withers will deliver the Academy’s Regional Lecture, Shining a light on materials behaviour at Manchester University on 5 March, where there will also be a poster competition and Fellows’ Dinner.

He will show the audience how the penetrating power of neutron and x-ray beams can give experts an insider view on how materials perform, often under extremely harsh conditions.

Understanding how the microstructures of various materials are formed during manufacture and when and why a material fails is of both academic and social interest. Professor Withers will show how time lapse 3D x-ray imaging allows him to follow the degradation process at micron resolution and explain how this insight is helping engineers to design new materials that are resistant to failure and can even heal themselves.

The lecture will be followed by a reception and poster competition, of which there will be three winners. Early career university staff and students at the universities of Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds will exhibit their research. A dinner for Academy Fellows will conclude the evening.

For more information about the Regional Lecture at the University of Manchester at 6pm on 5 March, please visit:

Notes for editors

  1. The University of Manchester’s roots can be traced back to 1824, the same year that it pioneered courses in Mechanical Engineering. The university boasts 200 years of expertise in engineering with teachers and alumni such as Roy Chadwick, Allan Bertram Field and Peter Walter Row. Ernest Rutherford split the atom, Professor Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn developed the world’s first stored programme digital computer and Sir Bernard Lovell studied cosmic rays and founded the science of radio astrology at the University of Manchester. By 2020 the university aims to be one of the top 25 research universities in the world.
  2. Professor Philip Withers joined the University of Manchester in 1998. His main interests lie in the application of advanced techniques to assess the structural integrity of engineering materials and components. To this end he has built instruments for residual stress measurement and 3D imaging at central neutron and synchrotron facilities, as well as founding a Unit for Stress and Damage Characterisation in Manchester, work for which he was elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2005. In 2007 he became the founding Director of the University of Manchester Aerospace Research Institute linking over 100 academics within the University with the aim of undertaking cross disciplinary research. In 2010 he set up the Manchester X-ray Imaging Facility. He was awarded the Royal Society Armourers & Brasiers’ Company Prize for pioneering use of neutron and x-ray beams to map stresses and image components in 2010. In 2012 Philip became the Director of the new BP International Centre for Advanced Materials, aimed at advancing the fundamental understanding and use of materials across a variety of oil and gas industrial applications.
  3. Founded in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655