Professor Hugo Williams MEng PhD CEng FIMechE SFHEA

School of Metallurgy and Materials
Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Hugo Williams is Professor of Aerospace Engineering and has broad interests and experience in performance and safety of aerospace and nuclear systems. Most notably this in the design of space radioisotope power systems, their materials challenges and performance analysis. He also has considerable experience and interest in engineering educational development, including curriculum design that embeds professional skills, practices and behaviours.


  • University Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, University of Leicester, 2018
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Leicester, 2012
  • Chartered Engineer, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2010
  • PhD in Aeronautical Engineering, University of Bristol, 2009
  • MEng in Aeronautical Engineering, University of Bristol, 2005


Hugo holds an MEng, and PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Bristol; the latter was on self-healing composite sandwich materials under the supervision of Professor Ian Bond. He then moved to industry, working in nuclear R&D for Rolls-Royce plc., before moving to the University of Leicester to work on space radioisotope power systems with Professor Richard Ambrosi. Hugo led the laboratory testing of the first representative radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) technology outside the USA or Russia under contract to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Hugo continued to develop his academic career at Leicester, undertaking several leadership roles at School and College level culminating in a period as Interim Head of School. He joined the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham in summer 2022 to take up the Chair in Aerospace Engineering.

Hugo is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Senior Fellow of HEA (Advance HE).


Hugo generally teaches modules related to air/spacecraft systems, design and performance, and polymer composite materials. He supervises individual and group projects in these areas.

Postgraduate supervision

Previous research PhD supervision topics have focussed on properties and processing of various materials critical to the performance and safety of space radioisotope power systems, including oxide ceramic surrogates of AmO2-x, Bi2Te3 thermoelectric materials and various metallic and composite containment structures. Hugo is willing to consider funded research students wishing to undertake research on aircraft performance and applied Engineering Education research. Any funded opportunities available will be externally advertised though the normal channels.


Research interests

  • Performance and safety of aerospace and nuclear systems, with a particular focus on materials aspects.
  • Radioisotope power systems design and performance – these are a key 'enabling technology' for numerous future exploration space missions providing energy for space missions far from the sun or on planetary surfaces at night.
  • Thermoelectric materials and modules – especially mechanical properties.
  • Multifunctional polymer composite materials and sandwich structures.
  • Engineering educational developments that embed professional skills, practices and behaviours.

Other activities

  • Professional Review Interviewer for the IMechE.
  • Programme External Examiner for the University of Sheffield (2016-2019), University of Bristol (2020-2023), Ulster University (2022-2025).