BLACKSBURG, VA. — In an extremely selective competition involving 230 submissions, the British Council for Relations with Other Countries is funding a strategic research and international education partnership between Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

In the joint proposal submitted to the British council, members of Virginia Tech’s Center for Power Electronics Systems, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the University of Nottingham’s Transportation Engineering Centre, and its Power Electronics, Machines and Control Group proposed this partnership. The four research centers were already cooperating through a 2009 memorandum of understanding that focused on research cooperation, including the development of a collaborative doctoral program. This effort has led to an exchange program where Ph.D. students can spend a year at the other institution.

“This award is important to our international initiative and serves as a model for facilitating strategic research and educational relationships with our international partners,” said Glenda Scales, associate dean for international programs at Virginia Tech.

Building on the seed funding provided by the British council, Dushan Boroyevich of the powers electronics group and Gerardo Flintsch of the transportation group at Virginia Tech, lead Virginia Tech investigators on this proposal, said they hope “to fund six Ph.D. scholarships over the next three years in these research areas.”

The partnership also will allow a series of exchanges between the two institutions, as well as post-doctoral research appointments. The Center for Power Electronics Systems at Virginia Tech led by Fred Lee and Boroyevich, both professors of electrical and computer engineering, has had a long association with the Power Electronics, Machines and Control Group at Nottingham, led by Jon Clare and Pat Wheeler, professors at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. They are regarded as the world’s leading and largest two groups in this area of research, spanning all key power electronic disciplines from power devices and component technology to complete electronic power conversion systems.
The groups also have existing common research sponsors and interests in aerospace engineering with industrial sponsors such as Boeing and Rolls Royce. A new university partnership program is about to be put in place by Rolls Royce in Virginia as a result of its planned $100 million investment in a new engine plant in Prince George County, Va. This partnership opens up additional research connections on a wider basis as Nottingham also has a strategic relationship with Rolls Royce including two University Technology Centers in Manufacturing and Gas Turbine Technologies.

The Nottingham Transportation Engineering Center is the United Kingdom’s leading research group in highway engineering and associated infrastructure research (including sustainability). Recently, it has developed a closer association with Virginia Tech and particularly with Professors Flintsch and Linbing Wang in the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Research interests complement each other in areas including highway engineering, sustainability, pavement engineering, microstructure and micromechanics of stone based materials, and infrastructure asset management.

A major International Sustainable Pavements Workshop was organized between Nottingham Transport Engineering Center and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Washington in January 2010, funded by National Science Foundation and the Federal Highways Administration. The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 6,000 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong cooperative education program. With more than
50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.