Student Guidance



Renewable Engine is an innovative cross-border project delivering a programme of Research and Innovation activities on behalf of SME partners. The objective of Renewable Engine is to facilitate industrial R&I at PhD level in local engineering companies for the development of new products.

The Renewable Engine research super-cluster consists of;

  • South West College (lead partner)
  • Institute of Technology Sligo
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • Advanced Forming Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Associate project partners are Manufacturing NI, Action Renewables and Mid Ulster Council.



Renewable Engine is a four year €5.8m INTERREG VA project. INTERREG is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.


PhD Opportunity

The Renewable Engine project has funding available for a total of 12 PhD studentships across the academic partners of SWC, QUB, IT Sligo and Advanced Forming Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

PhD Students are sought in the disciplines of Engineering and Science.

Successful students will be working directly on industrial research and innovation projects with 8 industry partners who have successfully applied to be participants on the Renewable Engine project. Industrial sectors eligible include energy, engineering and manufacturing.

This exciting opportunity will involve working directly in industry with an industrial partner and in the academic institutions thus offering PhD students a unique opportunity to carry out in-depth study and research in commercially relevant areas. The programme will allow for the joint development of academic knowledge and skills coupled with direct industrial experience thus creating PhD students with highly desirable skill sets. Working with the academic partners, the project output is research-based solutions for industrially identified issues.

The energy and manufacturing industries are amongst the fastest growing globally. Importantly, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland are some of the most industrially active areas in these disciplines resulting in significant opportunity for research and innovation activities to be undertaken in partnership with industry.

Research has shown that innovation is most effectively delivered when academic and industrial knowledge is combined in partnership. This joint working results in strong relationships and the most effective use being made of resources for the achievement of economically significant results. The PhD opportunities within the Renewable Engine project support this effective collaborative delivery style.

Stipend & Benefits

  • An attractive annual stipend of £20,000 is available to each of the successful candidates
  • University registration fees will be paid in addition to the stipend amount


A significant support enhancement package accompanies each of the 12 positions forming the basis of the Research Training Support Provision.

  • IT equipment
  • Attendance at research colloquia
  • Academic development opportunities
  • Travel to partner institutions
  • Conference attendance
  • Continuing Professional Development opportunities


Application Requirements

Applicants must have received (or be predicted to receive in 2017) a 2.1 honours degree or above in an Engineering or Science discipline and be home or EU students. Completed CVs detailing academic achievements and research projects undertaken should be forwarded to the following contacts.


Dr. John Harrison

SWC InnoTech Centre, Burn Road, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, BT80 8DN



Dr. Peter Martin

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Ashby Building, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5AH



Prof. Suresh Pillai

Institute of Technology Sligo, Ash Lane, Sligo, F91 YW50, Ireland


Dr. Dorothy Evans

Advanced Forming Research Centre, 85 Inchinnan Drive, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, PA4 9LJ



Renewable Engine PhD FAQs

How many studentships are available and where are they based?

Across the academic partners there are a total of 12 on offer (3 QUB, 2 IT Sligo, 3 University of Strathclyde and 4 SWC).

Are the studentships placed in industry?

It is anticipated that each of the PhD studentships will be directly linked to an industry partner and project. Students will spend time in both the company’s workplace and that of the academic partner.

What is the expected duration of the studentships?

Each studentship will last between 3 and 4 years depending on the conditions set by the academic partner.

What is the expected stipend?

An annual stipend of £20,000 is available for each studentship. In addition to this, student registration fees, IT equipment, up skilling/training and travel will be paid.

When will studentships commence?

Following recruitment of industry partners in May, the academic partners will look to commence the studentships as soon as possible (June/July 2017).

How do I know where I will be based?

Each of the academic partners will be directly linked to industry partners. This will depend on the skills required by the industry project and ability of the academic partner to support this. Students will be allocated to these partnerships depending on their academic backgrounds and ability to deliver the objectives of the project. Students may be allocated to any of the academic partners however efforts will be made where possible to meet student’s needs.

What enhancements are available?

Renewable Engine is a large multi-million Euro EU project. It involves academic partners across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland as well as over 8 industrial partners. There will be significant opportunity for knowledge sharing across the partners, travel to partner sites, meeting with fellow PhD students, accessing a wide range of high level equipment and direct interaction with industry.

Are there opportunities to travel?

The Renewable Engine project requires the publishing of papers in journals and at conferences. It is anticipated that students will be able to travel to these events as well as attending training and up skilling as necessary. Visits to partner sites will be common throughout the project.

How much support will be available?

A research support structure has been put in place for the Renewable Engine project. Each of the academic partners will have Post-Doctoral support directly responsible for assisting the PhD students and overseeing the research work. In addition to this the Research & Innovation Co-ordinators of the project will work directly between the students and the industry partners. Senior supervision will be by way of the Principal Investigation team. The PhD student group will work collaboratively both within their academic institution and across the project. The partners hold some of the most advanced R&D equipment within the sector and this will be utilised within the project.

Will I be working on the same project throughout?

Depending on the work coming forward from the industrial partners, the project each PhD student works on throughout the studentship may differ (however general theme will be similar). It is the case however that each of the projects (if they differ throughout the studentship) will be assessed to ensure they are eligible for PhD accreditation on completion of the studentship.

How will the PhD students and companies be matched?

Each of the industrial partners will be submitting their proposed projects. These will be technically and academically assessed by the project team to ensure they are suitable for research at this level. Once the industry projects are defined and known, students will be approached based on their CV details of academic achievements. Student meetings will then take place in each of the academic institutions to match the most suitable students with the available industrial projects.