Deakin-Coventry Cotutelle - Smart Composite Materials for Aircraft

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project in ‘Smart Composite Materials for Aircraft ’ between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK).

Deakin Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision

Deakin Faculty

GTP Research


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus (Australia) and Coventry University (UK)

Research topic

This is a doctoral cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (United Kingdom). The successful PhD Student will be awarded a scholarship from Deakin University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Coventry University. The PhD Student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Coventry University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration of 4 years and scheduled to commence in January 2023. The PhD Student is anticipated to spend at least 6 months of the total period of the program at Coventry University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

Within the aviation industry, the increase in polymer composite structures has increased to over 50% of the full airframe during the last two decades, primarily due to the use of composites in the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. This increase has been driven by the necessity to have lighter structures, whilst maintaining the same mechanical properties as their metal counterparts. Over the designated 20,000 hours or 20 years of planned service, there is however, the inevitable growth in different forms of damage due to fatigue and exposure to harsh environments. Furthermore, with the growing emphasis on improving resource efficiencies, there is a need to establish new approaches to the re-manufacture of existing components and composite recycling. Equally important to the development of new recycling methods is the ability to develop sensors and monitoring methods which ensure that the 2nd life composites are able to maintain properties the same or similar to a virgin composite, over its service life. This collaborative arrangement offers a unique research strength that from smart materials development and advanced characterisation facilities will be accessed in this PhD research project.

Project aim

Currently, most carbon fibre composite materials in use today are inherently intractable and unable to be conveniently recycled. In conjunction with the development of health monitoring and property restoration approaches, new inherently recyclable composite materials will be created based upon the use of reversible or polymer networks based upon dynamic covalent bonding. The project will develop a comprehensive approach to the health monitoring and property restoration of composites and recycled composites and establish protocols and procedures that validate the performance of recycled composites to increase the proliferation of second life components into new structural products.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Saturday 27 May 2023

Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.


This scholarship is supported by Deakin University, is available over 3 years and includes:

  • Stipend of $30,000 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
  • Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years.
  • Funding to support travel of PhD Student between Deakin University and Coventry University.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Coventry university, including English language proficiency requirements
  • be enrolling full-time or part-time
  • be able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page and Coventry’s research entry criteria page for further information.

How to apply

Applicants should firstly contact Prof Russell Varley to discuss the project. If successful, you will be invited by Deakin University to lodge a formal HDR application.


The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Coventry University via the 'Making an Application' page.  Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Prof Russell Varley

Prof Russell Varley
Email Prof Russell Varley
+61 3 5247 9577