Industry-focused studies are gateway to successful future career path

By Jon Ward, MSc in Automotive Engineering with Electric Propulsion

When I decided to study for an MSc in Automotive Engineering with Electric Propulsion, it was the quality of the course and the expertise of the lecturers that led me to choose the University of Bath. Its reputation for automotive engineering is the best in the country and the lecturers have extensive experience in industry, teaching in their specialist areas, which offers real value to the learning experience and was very important to me as a student.

For my dissertation, I investigated the feasibility of turbocharging a small rotary Wankel engine for UAV applications. A suitable turbocharger match would boost power and maintain efficiency, thereby increasing the operational altitude of a UAV and facilitating take-off with greater payloads. Turbocharging in conjunction with downsizing could also improve efficiency – this is something that would be particularly attractive for range extender engines in hybrid vehicles, where Wankel engines are already an intriguing option due to their high power density in both gravimetric and volumetric terms.

225CS engine. Picture credit: Advanced Innovative Engineering (AIE)

Simulation is an important aspect of research and development in all areas of engineering: not only does it save time and reduce cost, but it also leads to more highly performing products or systems. AVL BOOST has been an invaluable tool for me, as it is the only 1D simulation software with a dedicated Wankel engine template. Moreover, the built-in Turbocharger Tool means that importing turbocharger maps and then predicting turbocharged performance is straightforward.

In addition to the skills and knowledge I acquired over the course, I also made valuable contacts at Advanced Innovative Engineering (AIE), the manufacturer of the Wankel engine that was the focus of my dissertation, and Mitsubishi Turbo, who provided turbocharger maps for the project. IAAPS and the University of Bath have previously worked with AIE on the APC project ADAPT to develop a Wankel engine-based automotive range extender. I’m proud that as a direct result of my work, IAAPS and AIE are planning to continue their collaboration on a project to develop a turbocharged Wankel engine propulsion system for hybrid-electric small aircraft.

Having now completed my studies at the University of Bath, I have decided to gain some practical experience in industry before potentially returning to pursue further research. I feel that the course has set me up very well for a future career in engineering and I look forward to building on the skills and knowledge I have acquired.

Jon Ward, MSc Automotive Engineering with Electric Propulsion