Name: Dr Mark Jabbal
Research institution: School of Engineering & Design, Brunel University, Uxbridge
Research career length: 9 years
Research Council: Previously funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Location: Uxbridge, England
Brief summary of research: Developing technologies that will improve the aerodynamics of aircraft to make them more environmentally friendly
A-levels: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry
MEng (Hons) in Aerospace Engineering, University of Manchester
PhD in Aerospace Engineering, University of Manchester
Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering, Brunel University
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Manchester
Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Manchester
Aerodynamics Consultant, Flow Science Ltd
Please give us a description of your job / research, and tell us what inspired you to do what you’re doing...
I’m a postdoctoral Researcher in the Aerospace Engineering Group at the University of Manchester. I’m involved with research in the development of green aircraft technologies known as 'active flow control' actuators, which are devices that could be used to improve the efficiency of aircraft wings. I was inspired into aerospace engineering by a placement I did during sixth form at Rolls Royce Aerospace. The experience reaffirmed my ambition of pursuing a career where I could apply my interest in maths and physics to developing cutting edge technology. Throughout university I found myself drawn towards the more research-orientated aspects of my work. I really enjoy working in research - the challenge of coming up with new ideas and ways to tackle a particular problem and being able to demonstrate the feasibility of your ideas can be a very rewarding experience, putting you at the forefront of knowledge in your field. I think I’m very fortunate in that I can combine my passion of aerospace research to an area which can impact positively on people’s lives.
How does your job or research contribute to the world we live in now?
Long-term projections for growth in air travel demands urgent action to curb increasing aviation contribution to CO2 emissions, and hence global warming. One approach to this challenge is to increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft. My research is involved with the development of a new ‘active wing’ technology that is potentially beneficial for reducing aircraft noise and emissions. Such innovations are essential if we’re to ensure sustainable aviation growth that meets public demand for air travel without compromising the environment.
Describe your typical day...
I usually start work at 9am with a cup of coffee and a check of my emails! Beyond that, the day can be very varied depending on the progress of my research. So for example, as my research is part of an EU project, I may need to respond to specific requests for information that I’m generating as part of design trade studies being conducted by Airbus UK (the project coordinator). I may spend part or all of the day devising and running a computer model for a new actuator concept, or working in the lab to run some experiments. I also get the opportunity to write and publish academic papers of my research and prepare presentations to give at conferences in the UK and overseas. My day usually finishes at 5pm, but can be flexible as work fits.
What do you love most about science / engineering or maths?
The ways in which engineering can make ideas become reality.
What do you remember most from school science?
The things that stand out for me are the experiments and the sense of surprise and wonder when seeing them performed for the first time. The experiments I most remember were seeing someone’s hair stand up with a Van de Graaff generator and the bright white spark produced by the thermite reaction between aluminium and iron oxide.
What do you think is the most significant scientific / engineering / mathematical development in the last century?
Name one quirky / crazy fact about your job...
Most of the green technologies being developed for aircraft are inspired by nature. For example, vane vortex generators mimic the fins of tuna fish, riblets mimic shark skin and synthetic jet actuators, which I am currently working with, mimic the motion of squids and octopuses.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy cycling as part of my commute to work and enjoy long bike rides on sunny days. I also enjoy playing football and badminton. I like going to music gigs and being in Manchester means there is no short supply of good bands and venues!
Postdoctoral Researcher in the Aerospace Engineering Group
Cycling, football, badminton, going to gigs
This career case study originally appeared on the NOISE (New Outlooks in Science & Engineering) webpage on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) website. NOISE is a UK-wide initiative to promote science and engineering. Originally funded by EPSRC, NOISE is now an independent platform for early career researchers to engage with the general public about the importance of research and inspire your people to consider STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.