ESR 12: Development of models for the adhesive and cohesive failure of ice

AeroTex UK LLP, Farnborough (UK)

Supervisor: Ian Roberts

Doctoral position

We have a role for a 36-month doctoral position focused on the development of models for the adhesive and cohesive failure of ice on standard and icephobic aerospace coatings in combination with low power ice protection systems (electrothermal, electromechanical or piezoelectric).  To fulfil this role, we are looking for a young graduate with a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Engineering, Surface Science or Applied/Engineering Mathematics with experience in icing, finite element analysis and/or adhesive/cohesive failure modelling/experiments.  Relevant industrial experience is an advantage but not essential for this post.

The candidate will participate as an early-stage researcher (ESR) to the Marie Skłodowska – Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project: “Smart surface design for efficient ice protection and control” (SURFICE). This is a project under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The project will be carried out at AeroTex UK (UK), under the scientific supervision of Dr. Ian Roberts.  Secondments totaling 3-6 months at different SURFICE partner institutions will be part of the project.

The ESR will be matriculated as a doctoral Student of the Institut supérieur de l’aéronautique et de l’espace (ISAE-SUPAERO), from which they shall obtain the PhD degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Job Description

The project will attempt to generate a new generation of experts in ice protection technologies. The primary objective for the ESR is to develop analytical or simulation tools for the prediction of ice failure on surfaces protected by low power ice protection systems (electrothermal, electromechanical and piezoelectric) when subject to aerodynamic forces and/or centrifugal loading.

The project will be organized into three main phases:


  • Research existing ice failure data i) available in the open literature, ii) held by AeroTex, iii) provided by MSCA-ITN partners and iv) external partners to understand the data currently available within the domain.  This data shall incorporate various failure mechanisms (e.g. shear, tension) associated with low power ice protection systems and when subject to aerodynamic and/or centrifugal loading.
  • Much of the current data incorporates significant scatter.  The researcher shall establish the requirement to incorporate stochastic approaches in ice failure modelling or whether a rational approach can be adopted.

Modelling and Simulation

  • Identify candidate approaches for the modelling of ice failure when subject to loading from both ice protection systems and externally (e.g. aerodynamics and centrifugal).
  • Develop ice failure models to cover both adhesive and cohesive failure of ice incorporating stochastic approaches if required.


  • Participate in icing wind tunnel testing organised by partners within the SURFICE consortium.
  • Test the models against data generated on both coupon and larger scale experimental studies.

Secondments at ISAE-SUPAERO (Dr. Valerie Budinger, France) and TU Darmstadt (Prof. Ilia Roismann, Germany) are planned during the PhD programme.  These may be modified if more relevant/productive secondments become available as the work of the ESR and the SURFICE network evolves.

Your profile

  • You should have obtained a Master’s degree in Physics, Engineering, Surface Science or Applied/Engineering Mathematics with outstanding grades within the past four years.
  • Excellent knowledge of numerical modelling including finite element modelling.
  • Experience in icing or adhesive/cohesive failure modelling/experiments is desirable
  • Experience in industrial research is desirable
  • You will need to be fluent in ENGLISH. FRENCH for the interaction within the ISAE-SUPAERO is a benefit but not required.
  • You should have a talent for identifying the key issues, deriving an experimental hypothesis and can realise them in a target-oriented manner.

Institution address

AeroTex UK LLP, Westmead House, Westmead, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7LP, UK.

Important dates

Expected starting of the working contract is between 01.06.2021 and 01.09.2021 (by agreement).

We look forward to receiving your application by the 12th April 2021.

Application process

By e-mail to and to, including the recruitment form and others documents given in the general information. This information also gives the ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA, the application requirements and the selection process.

For questions and further information on the position, please contact Dr. Ian Roberts at

Additional details

AeroTex UK (ATX) is a micro-SME based in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.  The company specialises in atmospheric icing and structural dynamics/aeroelasticity, which are underpinned by a core strength in mathematical modelling and simulation.  Whilst ATX is a small consultancy, we have a world-class reputation and work globally for a wide range of organisations:

  • 5 x Aircraft Primes
  • 4 x Tier 1 Suppliers
  • 3 x Research agencies (civil and military)
  • 1 x Propeller manufacturer
  • 2 x Air Data Probe manufacturers
  • 1 x Wind Turbine manufacturer
  • Support to several other consultancy companies

ATX is particularly active in research, having PhD students and Post-Doctoral researchers from UCL regularly spending time with us. ATX have been partners in many EU funded research programmes:

  • SENS4ICE – Development of ice detectors for Supercooled Large Droplet Conditions
  • InSPIRe – Development of an electrothermal ice protection system for a next generation of turboprop
  • GAINS – Development of low power ice protection systems for business jets
  • STORM – Development of water film models and ice protection systems for jet engine components
  • HETEMS – Development of a simulation suite for hybrid electrothermal-electromechanical IPS
  • SANDIT/SLD SCOOP/SIPAL – Development of an ice protection system for an APU intake

To support our work ATX has developed a suite of codes for the simulation of various icing conditions including ice protection systems.  These codes are licensed to airframers, Tier 1 aerospace suppliers and wind turbine manufacturers.

  • Droplet Impingement Codes (incorporating SLD effects):
  • Trajectory and Catch 2D (TAC2)
  • Trajectory and Catch 3D (TAC3D+)
  • Eulerian Water Catch 3D (EWC)
  • Ice Accretion Codes (including thermal ice protection systems)
  • Icing Heat Balance (IHB)
  • Electrothermal ice protection, 3D (ET3D)
  • Hot-Air Code (HAC)

Due to the sensitive nature of our commercial activities we will require any candidates that are down selected to be subject to additional security checks.