Having completed his dissertation at Southampton University in noise and vibration reduction in car audio systems, Charlie was awarded a PhD grant (set up between us and the EPSRC, described below) to continue his research, looking at how to reduce noise and vibration from systems such as wind turbines and sea vessels – which has clear civilian and military benefits. This collaboration with BAE Systems allowed Charlie to test his research in full-scale, real-world scenarios such as onboard ships.
In fact, Charlie’s work was so impressive he won the annual BAE Systems iCASE Award for his outstanding research. He demonstrated how marine noise and vibrations can be either hidden or disguised by using ‘active controls’, not dissimilar to those used in noise cancelling headphones. There are many applications in the marine environment for use of this research and thinking, known as acoustic cloaking. Aboard ships, for example, noise cancelling controls embedded in sailors’ bunks can minimise the sound of the engines to ensure a good night’s sleep. That also makes locating staff quarters within the vessel more flexible, as you can use areas that were previously considered too noisy.
The experience of working with BAE Systems during my PhD motivated me to pursue an industrially-focused research career. I’m looking forward to continuing my work with the ISVR as a BAE Systems employee, to explore other innovative ways that active noise control technology can be applied to maritime applications. Dr Charlie House, Noise and Vibration Engineer
BAE Systems has a long-established Prosperity Partnership with the Southampton University’s Institute for Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) - a scheme set up by the UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which encourages long-term, business-led research partnerships. Both the EPSRC and industry invest in low technology readiness programmes, which have the potential to deliver economic, social and cultural prosperity for the UK. In addition, we are able to participate in the EPSRC-run Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (iCASE) allowing us to set specific PhD projects – such as Charlie’s – that can benefit both academia and ourselves.
Underwater, minimising noise and vibrations also has applications in the military and commercial spheres. Firstly, there are obvious advantages to minimising the sound and vibration profile of ships, making them less susceptible to sonar and other forms of detection. Quieter shipping also has tremendous benefits in lessening the impact on marine life and the wider oceanic environment. On completing his doctorate, Charlie recently accepted a maritime engineering post with BAE Systems Submarines and is now looking to develop his research into active controls further.