Issue date: 06 December 2000

The historic Houses of Parliament are to be the setting for a display of cutting-edge research by young engineers.

An engineer from Bristol, Clare Dimyon, will be presenting her work on costing components for the next generation “Super Jumbo”, the European Airbus A3XX. Research has focussed round the possibility of manufacturing more components from carbon fibre, whose unique properties can achieve greater strength with less weight. These properties can contribute to reducing noise and an overall weight reduction, which reduces both fuel consumption and the impact on the environment.

The manufacture of the new “super jumbo” A3XX incorporates this revolutionary material. The design process has involved the novel concept of 'engineering with cost', balancing the costs and values of materials used throughout the whole life cycle of a product and comparing them with alternative materials. Clare, who recently graduated as MSc with distinction from the University of the West of England's Faculty of Engineering, has been involved in the development of a 'methodology of cost' necessary for the design and implementation of cost estimation software. This work was undertaken for the Airbus UK division of BAE SYSTEMS at the Aerospace Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), where leading edge aerospace research is carried out within UWE.

The software that has been developed provides an understanding of the complex interactions of cost at an early enough stage for decisions to be made that impact on cost. Clare says "Composites provide such a vast range of material and processing opportunities that it makes the cost implications of their use hard to determine. Cost modelling enables us to identify and quantify those opportunities that are commercially viable, increasing profitability and reducing costs to the consumer.

"Carbon fibre composites have opened up a host of innovative possibilities: optical fibres have been incorporated in composite laminates to create 'smart' structures whose condition
can be permanently monitored, simultaneously improving safety and decreasing maintenance costs. Laminating composites and aluminium alloys has been particularly successful, producing a new sheet material that is cheaper, with the unexpected spin-off that is even more fire resistant."

Posters will be on view on 4 December in the House of Commons representing the wide panorama of work undertaken by British engineers. There are cash prizes for the best entries and the UK Medal for Excellence in Engineering for the winner.

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