Six engineering academics have secured a place in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Industrial Secondment scheme. The scheme will see them spending up to 12 months working onsite with an industrial partner, collaborating on a project with a direct industrial application.

The secondment scheme provides a valuable opportunity to establish strategic partnerships between industry and academia based on collaborative research projects. It facilitates knowledge transfer and enables academics to gain first-hand experience of working in an industrial environment.

The benefits of the scheme also extend indirectly to the secondees’ students; as such experience in the world of industry is reflected in an improved quality of teaching, with more current industrial relevance.

Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Research and Secondment Committee, says:

“The benefits of the Academy’s Industrial Secondment scheme extend well beyond the initial joint project. This initiative facilitates the establishment of long-term partnerships and collaborations between researchers in industry and academia; building lasting working relationships between the partners.”

This year’s industrial secondees are:

Dr Rafic Ajaj, University of Southampton, seconded to Airbus Operations Limited

Dr Ajaj will spend his secondment with Airbus Operations Limited, working on advanced morphing wing design, developing the folding wingtip concept to turn it into a system that can be used in flight to reduce gust and manoeuvre loads on the wing.

Dr Tao Chen, University of Surrey, seconded to Unilever UK Central Resources Limited

Dr Chen will apply his expertise to develop a model that can predict how chemicals are absorbed by the skin, which for the first time will incorporate the effect of features of the skin such as hair follicles. The results will be used to build a program that Unilever could use routinely when designing skin care products.

Dr Andrea Da Ronch, University of Southampton, seconded to Airbus Operations Limited

Dr Da Ronch will spend his time at Airbus working with  teams to develop and prototype a rapid methodology for predicting the effects of the forces acting on wings and other airplane structures in flight (a procedure called aeroelastic loads assessment) using computational fluid dynamics. Such methods will help aircraft designers  understand how aerodynamic changes impact on structural loads and weight implications, as part of a research plan to create more environmentally-friendly aircraft.

Dr Gillian Ragsdell, Loughborough University, seconded to the Energy Technologies Institute

Dr Ragsdell will support the design of ETI’s knowledge management to ensure systems and processes are designed to enhance the dissemination and use of the knowledge, insights and innovation built up by the ETI over the last seven years across its technology programmes portfolio, and to provide sustainable access to its knowledge resources.

Dr Siraj Ahmed Shaikh, Coventry University, seconded to MIRA Ltd

Dr Shaikh will collaborate with MIRA Ltd, a leading automotive engineering and development facility, to find a solution to the increasingly important issue of automotive cybersecurity. Dedicated software controls a variety of applications including sensing, control, navigation, diagnostics and passenger safety on modern automobiles, and Dr Shaikh will work on making these systems more resistant to cyber attacks.

Dr Rafael Mauricio Morales Viviescas, University of Leicester, seconded to AgustaWestland

After previous successful collaborations with AgustaWestland on other projects, Dr Morales Vivescas will spend his secondment period working on an improved control system for a new generation of helicopter rotors. 

Notes for Editors

For more information please contact: Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655; email:

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment Scheme provides an invaluable opportunity for early- to mid-career academics to undertake a collaborative research project in an industrial environment. The scheme aims to strengthen the strategic relationship between the university and the industry host by providing an opportunity to establish or enhance collaborative research between the two parties.

    The scheme is open to engineers from all disciplines and provides funding to cover the salary cost of the applicant, paid pro-rata against the amount of time to be spent at the industry host. Awards can be held up to six months full-time or part time up to 12 months.

    The Academy will contribute up to a maximum of £30,000 towards the salary costs (excluding overheads) of the applicant paid pro rata against the amount of time to be spent at the industry host. More information at
  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

    We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation.We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.