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Materials Engineering Group

Research / Students / Ashwin Rao

Ashwin Rao

+44 (0) 1908 658364

Student Project;
Mechanical properties of nuclear structural materials

Academic Supervisors; Prof. L. Edwards, Dr. M. Fitzpatrick


Ashwin Rao


My name is Ashwin. After 4 years of torment, I finished my undergraduate study in mechanical engineering from M.C.E, Hassan , India with a 6 month work experience at Indian Space Research Organisation. I then joined King's College, London in September 2005 to do my MSc. I graduated with a Distinction in Sept 2006 specialising in Mechatronics. I started my PHD in this department in January 2007.

My Research

My research project at The Open University was mainly on mechanical performance of structural materials used in nuclear reactors which is a big change from what I studied in my MSc. In today's energy scenario, a lot of emphasis is placed on a steady supply of electricity. One viable option is nuclear power. Nuclear power plants can provide a stable power supply for much longer periods of time than most others. But there is also the inherent safety feature which has to be addressed. Especially after the Chernobyl and the Three Mile Accidents, emphasis on safety has increased manifold.

I mainly looked at how materials like steels which are used in nuclear power plants for various purposes behave over their lifetime which would mean one would have to understand & predict material behaviour over very large periods of time. One of the defining factors for material performance over long time periods is a phenomenon called creep. Matters can get complicated when residual stresses from welded components are included in the system. Experimental data gathering and prediction of creep was my topic in general.


About the OU and Milton Keynes

OU is a great place to study. The department is very informal and all people are very approachable which works out well for people like me who always need help!. There are not too many residential students in the campus which means most facilities like the library are not crowded. The facilities in the department are excellent and there are always upgrades and new equipment which come in. On a personal note there is a constant-strain testing machine arriving in Jan 2008 which I am excited about. Also, a new Transmission Electron Microscope should be installed by Easter 2008.

Milton Keynes is a quite a nice place to stay. Although it doesn't have the history (it was built only about 40 years back), its quite peaceful and has plenty of open spaces. Being an hour to London is also quite handy. There are a good few clubs and restaurants around not to mention a huge shopping centre.


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