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Ministry of Defence funds 2 new Centres for Doctoral Training

These centres will enable novel research and provide a future pipeline of trained research staff in critical technology areas for defence.

The £16 million investment will fund Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) led from the universities of Southampton and Edinburgh, forging closer links between defence and academia.

The 2 centres are among 65 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) CDT which will support the training of 4,000 doctoral students over the next 9 years. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) will work closely with staff at Southampton and Edinburgh to align the centres’ operations with the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) strategic priorities and research programmes.

University of Southampton: EPSRC CDT in Complex Integrated Systems for Defence and Security

This CDT will develop future experts or leaders in systems engineering, across the themes of Digital, Physical and Biological systems.

It will address a skills shortage at the doctoral, research and innovation leadership level. The centre will do this by training a cohort of graduates, through an innovative approach to CDT recruitment, training and delivery that builds and expands on the experience gained from the highly successful University of Southampton EPSRC Defence and Security Mobility pilot. 

Defence will engage to shape the agenda around tackling complex integrated systems challenges, centred on areas such as:

  • strategic maritime
  • aeronautical
  • aerospace
  • medical
  • electronic systems

These areas can be linked by numerous cross-cutting themes including:

  • acoustical
  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • autonomy
  • control
  • cyber
  • digital twins
  • geo-spatial
  • human factors
  • human-machine interaction
  • advanced materials

University of Edinburgh: EPSRC CDT in Sensing, Processing, and AI for Defence and Security (SPADS)

This CDT will develop skills in sensors and sensor processing, including using Large Language Models (LLMs) and AI. It aligns with a number of current Dstlprogrammes, such as:

  • AI and Autonomy for Intelligence
  • Surveillance and Reconnaissance (A2ISR) project within the AI programme
  • novel computing project within the future sensing programme
  • PNT (position, navigation, and timing) programme
  • Autonomy programme
  • Communications and Networks programme

SPADS will significantly increase the impact of scientific support for defence by training entire cohorts of PhD graduates to support future projects. It builds on the success of the EPSRC/Dstl funded University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC).

Nick Joad, Director, Defence Science and Technology, said:

“It’s vital that defence has strong relationships with the brightest academic minds. The centres will work on some of our most pressing challenges, ensuring that science and technology continues to provide operational advantage to the UK’s armed forces.”

Professor Andy Bell, Dstl’s Chief Science and Technology Officer, said:

“This is MOD’s largest investment in a single Research Council call and will provide a step change in fundamental knowledge in new technology and developing areas. The centres will help deliver new capabilities that are innovative, cost-effective and affordable solutions to defence and security challenges as well as generating a wealth of skills that are critical for the defence and security enterprise.”

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/defence-science-and-technology-laboratory

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ministry-of-defence-funds-2-new-centres-for-doctoral-training

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