Ahmad is a CONFIRM SMART 4.0 MSCA Research Fellow based at the University of Limerick
” Doing a Ph.D. is said to be energy-demanding, filled with tension and failures yet full of achievements. My experience during Ph.D. was a turning point in my life led to personal and social development.”
Tell us a bit about your research...
This project is developing a Digital Twin for High Speed Computer Controlled Drilling.
In the aerospace industry, composite laminates are primarily used in structural components instead of metal alloys allowing for weight reduction. Typical examples of extensive application of composite laminates are Boeing and Airbus airliners. Usually, mechanical drilling operation is an important final machining process for components made of composite laminates and robotic arms are used for handling precise and cost-efficient drilling operation. However, high demanding requirements for aeronautics components including engine parts or body structure necessitates flawless manufacturing processes. Digital twin is a new concept in industry 4.0 that provides a digital representation of a manufacturing element through a stream of data collected from the physical world. By implementing an industrial network, data are collected from the physical world to update digital entities and control commands are sent back to manufacturing elements for manipulation. Therefore, a seamless and reliable information exchange between physical and digital twins is made. Continuous information exchanges between twins are used for further analysis, prediction and optimization of the manufacturing process.
What did you study as an Undergraduate?
I received my B.Sc. (2007) and M.Sc. (2010) in mechanical engineering (manufacturing) from Isfahan University of Technology. My deep interest in aeronautical component manufacturing lead me to review “Superalloy machining” as an undergrad and study “Ultrasonic Assisted Creep Feed Grinding of Superalloy Inconel 738LC” in my master’s thesis. After working in an R&D role in industry for five years, I commenced my Ph.D. studies and graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China in 2020. My dissertation title was “Study on Sweep Blasting Erosion Arc Machining for fabricating open channels in turbomachinery Components” which is a novel technique to enhance machining of specific rotary components in aero-space industry.
What made you decide to go into research?
The most important reason that inspired me to become a researcher is exploring unknown phenomena and challenging difficulties in engineering leading to novel technologies. I have always been interested in new technologies especially in the field of manufacturing such as techniques that are used to fabricate complex components made of specific materials in the aerospace industry. The combination of conventional manufacturing processes with physical phenomena as an assisted method to enhance productivity is my field of interest.
What do you enjoy most about being a Research Fellow?
As a research fellow, I like to find a challenge in the real world that could be solved through a scientific path. Proposing a research question and developing a method to find a proper answer to this question increases my problem-solving ability. Through the research, I can improve different skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and team working which lead me to a greater level of understanding the world around me.
Could your research be used to combat any societal issues, such as those experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
One of the main objective of Digital Twin is to provide a platform for digital visualization, monitoring and control of ongoing manufacturing processes accessible through different human-machine interfaces (HMIs) such as PCs, mobile phones and tablets. In such conditions, shop floor activities could be controlled precisely from a distance. By emerging COVID-19, many enterprises especially manufacturing firms are suspended due to the prevention of personnel physical presence at their work. As a result, it could be concluded that by creating a multi-dimensional Digital Twin of the production chain including machines, systems, products and processes, the manufacturing sector is able to continue its activity through virtual space.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about a career or research in STEM?
Doing a Ph.D. is said to be energy-demanding, filled with tension and failures yet full of achievements. My experience during Ph.D. was a turning point in my life led to personal and social development. During this period, I acquired the ability to handle difficulties and uncertainties while keeping consistency and commitment during tough times. In retrospect, I would say it is worth it and recommend it for dedicated individuals.