Affiliated PhD Students

There are three PhD students at three of ICONIC’s beneficiaries that are affiliated with the ICONIC project:

Denis Dalli

Funded by and Hosted at: Queen’s University Belfast

Nationality: Maltese

Project Title: Predicting the crashworthiness of Formula 1 composite automotive structures using finite element analysis (in collaboration with McLaren Honda F1)


  • Brian Falzon
  • Giuseppe Catalanotti

Start Date: 1 November 2016

Email Address:


Denis graduated with a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Malta in 2015. In his final year project, he focussed on the mechanical modelling of offshore wind turbine systems. He completed his MSc in Advanced Motorsport Engineering in 2016, at Cranfield University, where his research was focussed on structural designs and simulations. His dissertation was conducted in collaboration with a Formula 1 team, focusing on fatigue life modelling using finite element methods. He joined the Advanced Composites Research Group at Queen’s University Belfast in November 2016, as a PhD student. His research is focussed on improving the current modelling techniques for composite crash simulations, for better prediction of impact damage. This will include multiscale modelling techniques for damage and failure of unidirectional and woven ply carbon fibre laminates.

Michael Corbett

Funded by and Hosted at: University of Limerick

Nationality: Irish / US-American

Project Title: Numerical design and optimisation of a novel fastener-less joining technology for composite-metal structures


  • Conor McCarthy

Start Date: 1 October 2014

Email Address:


Michael completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering, with first class honours, at the University of Limerick in 2014. Currently, he is undertaking the structured PhD programme at the University of Limerick, funded by the Irish Research Council. He investigates the design and optimisation of novel, hybrid mechanical-adhesive interlocking joints for application in composite-metal structures. The concept under consideration employs interlocking architecture formed on the overlapping surfaces of male (metallic) and female (composite) adherends, which are coupled with a layer of adhesive. He has employed various cohesive zone and continuum mechanics based finite element damage models in order to simulate the performance of the joint concept and accurately capture the response of each of its constituents. In addition, he has investigated a number of optimisation techniques in order to determine an effective design for the interlocking topology and maximise the potential performance of the concept based on various criteria.

Geoffrey Neale

Funded by and Hosted at: Ulster University

Nationality: Trinidad & Tobago

Project Title: Improving the energy absorption capability of thermoplastic composites for aerospace and automotive structures


  • Eileen Harkin-Jones
  • Alistair McIlhagger
  • Edward Archer

Start Date: 6 January 2017

Email Address:


Geoffrey graduated in 2015 with a MEng in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Bristol. His final year research thesis/dissertation focussed on the development of novel methods for the incorporation of toughening nanoparticles into laminated fibre reinforced composites. He mainly looked into tailoring the level of control over the dimensional characteristics of the nanoparticle interlayer between prepreg sheets. This was achieved through the adaptation and development of various 2D and 3D particle “printing” methods, which yielded better specific toughness improvements than bulk particle incorporation. Within his PhD project, he is focussing on the development of crashworthy thermoplastic composite structures for automotive applications. The hope is to develop novel structural architectures that are able to provide greater energy absorption by tailoring the failure mechanisms within the structure, achieved through geometrical and, to a lesser extent, material modifications. The use of emerging manufacture techniques, for example 3D weaving and additive manufacturing, are to be incorporated into the design of these energy absorbing structures to better address the needs of the sector with respect to high manufacturing efficiency and low production costs.