Prof Atallah is director of the Advanced Materials and Processing Laboratory (AMPLab). He helped establish a split-location PhD position looking at friction stir welding with the Guangdong Institute of Industrial Technology. He says:
‘We were invited to participate in a project funded by Guangzhou Municipal Government (GMG) as a foreign research partner. But due to the limited funds available – only 10% of the project value – we had to assess a number of different options, including part-time research fellowship, research visitors, and PhD studentship.
‘We eventually selected a split-location PhD model. In this model, the student spends up to four months of the year at Birmingham and the rest in China. The Chinese research partner nominated their candidate, who met the admissions requirements and started the programme.
‘The research topic focuses on friction stir welding, a British technology that was developed by The Welding Institute. The technology patent protection is due to expire in 2016, so it was a convenient time for us to explore its application to an industrial project in China.
‘I had already visited China twice to give talks about our research expertise, and as a result the concept of this collaboration materialised. The China Institute then supported the preparation of the proposal and contractual process of this project.’
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