Interview with MADE Cymru’s new Research Associate: Andrew Killen


Can you tell me about your educational journey?

I first started my studies at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) back in 2011 when I enrolled on the Motorcycle Engineering foundation year. After completing the foundation year, I then moved onto the three-year BEng in Motorcycle Engineering Degree. I completed a research project which looked at the internal design and finite element analysis of high performance multi cylinder engines, including crankshafts, conrods and pistons. I also conducted testing of coolant flow circulation characteristics of V8 engine blocks and head coupled with CFD simulation and developing good correlation between simulation and high-speed photographic results.

In my final year of the BEng, I was thankfully given the opportunity to extend my studies and continue onto the MEng. As project leader I was responsible for the design and prototype manufacture of a single cylinder downsized boosted GDI gasoline engine as part of a hybrid
motorcycle. My specialist technical role is the mechanical design of the complete structure, including cases and all moving parts. Including a specific in-depth analysis to minimise bore distortion.

There is expert tuition at UWTSD, and I really enjoyed learning about Engineering Design and Analysis, Design for Manufacture, Concept Engine Design and Prototype Manufacture and Engine Performance and Emissions.

What did you do next?

After finishing my studies at UWTSD I was accepted onto an EngD in structural metals for gas turbines at Swansea University. Where I embarked upon a fully funded doctoral scholarship for Rolls-Royce plc. Looking at High Cycle Fatigue on advanced aerospace alloys by artificially introducing surface defects with focused ion beam technology. My research mainly focused on advanced titanium alloys and the relationship between surface defects and the microstructural interactions. I also gained additional professional qualifications during the program where I completed Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training along with the certification in computer aided design.

The EngD also consisted of fully accredited taught modules where I also studied and gained experience in:

  • Damage Tolerance & Component Lifting: – looking at gas turbine sections and service intervals.
  • Design Against Creep Failure: – looking at the mechanisms and conditions within a gas turbine engine where creep interactions could become problematic.
  • Mechanical Testing & Data Analysis: – for aerospace alloys looking at testing
    strategies and analytical techniques.
  • Advanced Lifting Correlations: – for components subjected to extreme operational conditions.
  • Financial Investment in Engineering: – increasing understanding in the viability of specific projects.
  • Engineering Ethics: – where I wrote a paper on automotive emission standards.
  • Titanium Alloys for Aerospace Engineering: – the study of the production and processing of various titanium alloys and the application in the aerospace industry.
  • Holistic Gas Turbines: – where I carried out the theoretical design of a jet engine optimising thermodynamic efficiency.
  • Electron Microscopy: – training to operate scanning electron microscopes.
  • Electron Backscatter Diffraction: – where I gained experience using an advanced material technique which helps to show the crystallographic orientation of aerospace alloys.

Can you tell me about your work history?

Prior to studying at University, I have held two non-academic positions. The first is where I worked as a sub-contractor at Didcot Power Station where I refitted internal workings of cooling towers to meet environmental standards along with other structural tasks. I also worked as a self-employed builder where I would renovate old properties for clients. During
these positions I always felt there was something missing, and this is what ultimately pushed me into academia. Although I never had job satisfaction in these roles, I feel I gained a lot of practical experience which Is extremely valuable in the engineering sector.

What are your main areas of interest?

Professionally I have a real curiosity for mechanical design and computational modelling. I try to look at engineering challenges from first principles and love solving complex mechanical problems. I have a strong background in design and chose to carry out material research to further improve my overall knowledge as an engineer.

Welcome to MADE Cymru. What is your role and what will you be doing?

MADE Cymru really caught my attention because of the excellent work being done to enhance Welsh manufacturing. I have been following the progress of MADE Cymru on social media and I knew Graham Howe and Luca Pagano from my time studying at UWTSD. I really feel MADE Cymru are doing wonderful things here in Wales and I really wanted to be a part
of it. Working as part of a team that are helping local businesses and the people behind them is a dream job for me. I will be helping with providing computational modelling and design for engineering problems offering my experience to the team whenever I can.

How have you found it so far?

I have absolutely loved my time here at MADE Cymru so far and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of projects we are part of. I am very lucky to be part of such a knowledgeable and talented team of people and am really exited of what we can achieve together.

What do you like doing in your free time (if you get any!)?

In my spare time I really like to go fly fishing with family and friends, I am a member of a local angling club and spend many evening on the bank. I also love martial arts and train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where I spend my evenings practicing with my children at Shane Price Grappling Swansea.