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Carol Featherston  BEng, DPhil, CEng, FIMechE, FRAeS

Professor Carol Featherston BEng, DPhil, CEng, FIMechE, FRAeS

Research theme leader – Sustainable Transport

School of Engineering

Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a chartered engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Royal Aeronautical Society with industrial experience working in the Aeronautical, Process Plant Maintenance and Pressure Vessel Design Engineering industries with Airbus, ICI and Rolls Royce.

My expertise is in the design, optimisation and performance and structural health monitoring of lightweight structures for the aerospace, automotive and civil sectors.

I lead of the 'Sustainable Transport' cross-cutting theme

I lead the 'Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Hub on Sustainable Transport' - a cross disciplinary training programme for PhD students working in all areas of Sustainable Transport run in collaboration with partners from computer science,psychology, geography and planning and mathematics in close collaboration with leading industrial stakeholders and policy makers

I am the leader of the 'Smart Mobility' workstream in the EPSRC Network+ "Decarbonising Transport through Electrification (DTE), A whole system approach"

I am the Chair of the Applied Mechanics Group of the Institute of Physics

I am an ambassador for the Aerospace Wales Forum

























Book sections



Past and Present Contracts

EPSRC – Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Hub – Sustainable Transport, C.A. Featherston, L. Cipcigan, £365,485.
EPSRC - Decarbonising Transport through Electrification, a Whole System Approach (DTE), L. Cipcigan, C.A.Featherston, A. Haddad, J. Liang, O. Rana, G. Santos, D. Potoglou, P. Morgan, J. Preston, P. Tricoli, C. Roberts, P. Luk, 2020-2023, £901,179.85.
National Grid Limiting SF6 leakage and full-scale validation test facility, A Haddad, C.A. Featherston, £335,870.
COFUND - A reduced order technique for the effective design of thin walled structures for the aircraft industry, CA Featherston (PI), D Kennedy, 2016-2019; £139,125.27
Technology Strategy Board – Montagu – Energy Harvesting for Autonomous SHM, CA Featherston (PI), R Pullin, J Lees, KM Holford 2014-2017; £114,378
Technology Strategy Board – Protection of Structures from Lightning Strike, A Haddad, CA Featherston, M Eaton, P Prokopovich 2014 – 2017; £499,420
Flintec UK Ltd- Autonomous load cells for a wide range of monitoring applications - J Lees, M Eaton, CA Featherston, R Pullin 2013 – 2015; £122,570
Airbus – Methodology Platform for Prediction of Damage for Self–Sensing Panels CA Featherston (PI), R Pullin, L Kawashita, A Clarke 2013–2016; £33,900
Technology Strategy Board - Sensors to Inform and Enable Wireless Networks CA Featherston (PI), R Pullin, J Lees, KM Holford 2014 – 2016; £143,963
Technology Strategy Board - Self-powered autonomous device for wireless structural health monitoring CA Featherston (PI), R Pullin, J Lees, KM Holford 2013 – 2016; £39,816 
EPSRC - Bridging the gaps CA Featherston (PI), Y Hicks, C Davies, A Preece, J Patrick, S Elias, P Found  2012 – 2013; £47,152
European Commission - Design, manufacture and impact testing of advanced composite materials CARHAY SL Evans, CA Featherston, KM Holford, R Pullin 2012 – 2013; £32,424
Airbus - Structural Health monitoring and Future Life Prediction in Fibre Metal Laminates CA Featherston (PI) 2011 - 2012; £113,797
EADS InnovationWorks - Development of power management and storage and efficient detection and wireless transmission for SHM systems CA Featherston (PI), J Lees, R Pullin 2011 - 2014; £19,980
European Commission – ACTIPPTSENS: Active pressure, position and temperature sensors for turboshaft engine. C Ji, CA Featherston 2010-2011; £49,003
Airbus – Power harvesting for aircraft structural health monitoring. CA Featherston (PI), R Pullin, KM Holford; £33,900
EADS UK Ltd – Measurement of displacement of composite panels due to lightning. CA Featherston (PI), SL Evans, R Pullin, KM Holford; £14,200
Technology Strategy Board – A Lightweight structural health monitoring system. KM Holford (PI), CA Featherston, R Pullin, SL Evans 2009 – 2012; £151,154
National Assembly for Wales – ArROW – Aerospace research organisation Wales. CA Featherston (PI), KM Holford 2009 – 2010; £18,662
National Assembly for Wales - Structural performance laboratories. K M Holford (PI), S L Evans, CA Featherston, R J Lark 2006 - 2008: £1,628,000
Royal Academy of Engineering – Travel Grants. CA Featherston (PI) 2002 - 2009; £3,100  
Royal Society – Travel Grants. CA Featherston (PI) 2002 - 2007: £2,736
TTI/Aircraft Materials Ltd – Optimisation of aerial delivery systems. CA Featherston (PI), SL Evans 2003 - 2006; £147,165
CETIC – Centre of excellence in mechanical materials and minerals engineering. N Syred (PI), AJ Griffiths, MP Alanou, C Bates, PJ Bowen, JA Brandon, HP Evans, CA Featherston, KM Holford, FD Pooley, DM O'Doherty, T O’Doherty, RW Snidle, J Watton, KP Williams, Y Xue 2001-2004; £300,000
Entrust/Pishiobury Trust – Optimisation of a recycled plastic pallet. CA Featherston (PI), SL Evans 2001; £53,393
Exxon Mobil – Set up of a carbon fibre composite design and manufacturing laboratory. CA Featherston (PI) 2000-2001; £4,880
The Royal Society – Optimisation of composite shells. CA Featherston (PI); £7,799
The Welsh Office (European Regional Development Fund) - SME access to environmental, energy and waste minimisation technology. N Syred, (PI) KP Williams, T O`Doherty, PJ Bowen, DM O`Doherty, AJ Griffiths, C Bates, FD Pooley, CA Featherston 1999-2001; £924,770
EPSRC - Buckling of double curved panels under combined compression and shear. CA Featherston (PI) 1999-2001; £50,439 

Supervised Students


Since joining Cardiff University twenty two years ago I have worked to develop extensive laboratory and computational facilities in support of my work to investigate the design, optimisation, performance and health monitoring of lightweight structures, primarily those found in aircraft. This has led to a comprehensive facility for the manufacture, testing, monitoring and modeling of these structures, a facility not previously available within the School of Engineering. Facilities include a large autoclave for manufacturing composite components, extensive static and dynamic testing facilities, digital image correlation, acoustic emission, strain gauge and ultrasonic scanning capability under both ambient and more aggressive conditions, and an extensive static and dynamic modeling capability. This has been realized using grants totaling £6.297M from EPSRC, the Royal Society, Exxon Mobil and the National Assembly for Wales (under the strategic research and infrastructure funding SRIF III with an award of £1.628M) in addition to contributions in kind from Altair, MOOG and AWE. This is one of a small number of facilities proposed for incorporation into a ‘National Aviation Development and Validation Environment’ detailed in the white paper authored by the Health Management and Prognostics National Technical Committee relating to such a platform. This has facilitated the publication of over 130 papers in high impact journals and international conferences.

In the design and optimisation of lightweight structures major developments have included the development of a framework for multilevel optimisation of complex structures by integrating the exact strip software VICONOPT with the finite element software NASTRAN thus combining the highly efficient (two orders of magnitude faster than FEA) but limited (in terms of the geometries and loading which can be handled) optimisation technique developed in house, with a much slower but more flexible in terms of modeling capability, proprietary software to enable complex structures to be optimised efficiently. This has led to mass reductions in a typical wing structure of 7% in addition to computational savings.More recently work has been completed which extends this technique to allow individual panels within the structure to buckle in a stable manner. This has led to further weight reductions of up to 40%. More recently these tools have been developed to enable the effects of defects to be incorporated at the design stage providing an effective alternative to more computationally expensive methods particularly at the preliminary design stage when large number of analyses must be carried out.  This work has been carried out in collaboration with Loughborough, Bristol, Bath and Strathclyde Universities, Airbus, BAe Systems and NASA Langley and has led to a tool which is used widely by Airbus at multiple sites across Europe in the preliminary design of many of its aircraft, to reduce design costs and deliver reductions in aircraft weight and hence fuel consumption and atmospheric emissions.

In performance work has concentrated on understanding and predicting the behaviour of ‘as-built’ structures to ensure efficient design (reducing safety factors and thus mass leading to savings in economic and environmental costs) and quantify the effect of different levels of damage particularly in relation to composite structures. Research into the effects of geometric imperfections (widely accepted as the major factor contributing to the discrepancy between theoretical and actual buckling loads) has led to greater understanding of the relationship between these effects and the structure’s geometry and loading. Automated meshes have been generated to give accurate predictions on the behaviour of individual structures. Work has been carried out to investigate the effects of dynamic loading on the stability of stiffened structures, and to enable understanding of the effects of geometry, and load duration (and in particular its relationship to the natural frequency of the structure), on the relationship between static and dynamic buckling loads to again design structures more effectively. The effects of defects initiated during manufacture or due to damage have also been investigated with research focusing on the effects of delaminations in particular, increasing understanding of the effect of location and size of damage on the performance of composites and more recently Fibre Metal Laminates. Work has also been carried out to investigate the effects of lightning strike on thin walled structures, and in particular composite structures. This work has been carried out in conjunction with Airbus, Correlated Solutions and Shimadzu and its importance has been recognized by invitations to speak at events such as the ‘Workshop on Measurement in Extreme Environments’ (European Office of Aerospace Research and Development).

In structural health monitoring major contributions have been in work towards the development of a fully integrated autonomous system providing diagnostic and prognostic information on the health of a structure. This has included the development of substantially improved acoustic emission techniques for the location of damage in anisotropic, heterogeneous composite materials using the ‘Delta T’ method [89] and in the development and validation of methods to characterise damage, using a range of signal processing techniques including Measured Amplitude Ratio, Principal Component Analysis and Neural Networks. Substantial contributions have also been made in sensor design, validating the use of Micro Fibre Composites (MFC’s) as low profile, lightweight AE sensors which can potentially be embedded into composite structures (including work to determine the functionality and effects on structural integrity of using such sensors) and sensor position optimisation using a range of experimental and modelling techniques. Research has also demonstrated the feasibility of using harvested energy (thermal, active and passive vibration and Radio Frequency) to power a structural health monitoring system comprising such sensors, and developed highly efficient power management techniques capable of handling such diverse and variable energy sources. This work has been carried out in collaboration with Sheffield, Bristol and Imperial Universities and the Universite de Valenciennes, University of Applied Science Isny, Technische University Wien and Politecnico di Milano, Airbus, Boeing, MoD, Marshall Aerospace, Plant Integrity and Mistras and its importance recognized by invitations to deliver the opening keynote at a major international conference (SPIE 2013, France), and a number of key workshops in the field includingEnergy Harvesting 2014’ (EPSRC Energy Harvesting Network), ‘Advances in Wireless Sensor Networks for Hostile Environments’ (Electronics, Sensors and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network), ‘Workshop on Cross Domain Integrated Health Management Capability’ (NATO, Brussels).

Professional memberships

  • Invited Seminar: Tsinghua, China (2009).
  • Invited Seminar: MSU, USA (2007).
  • Editorial Board: STRAIN, Journal of BSSM.
  • Session organiser and Chair: 13th ICEM, Greece (2007); 7th WCCM USA (2006).
  • Scientific Boards: 13th ICEM, Greece (2007); BSSM International Conference on Advances in Experimental Mechanics, UK (2006).