The University of Salford prides itself on having courses informed by industry, with many of our academic staff attaining strong relationships with industry professionals and organisations. For PhD student Joe –  this means he has been able to complete crucial research for the environment whilst building relationships with industry professionals and companies to set him up for his future career, and also earning some cash too! I spoke to Joe to find out why he decided to study here, and what it’s like studying a sponsored PhD!

Hi Joe! Tell us a little about yourself…

First of all, I am from Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and in my spare time my hobbies include rock climbing and cycling.

I am in the School of the Built Environment, researching thermal bridging, which is a phenomena caused by components made of highly conductive materials that penetrate the insulation layer in the building envelope, allowing additional heat loss through these components. I’m working with an industry sponsor, a company called Isolevel Farrat – who are based in Altrincham – that manufacture structural thermal break products; these reduce the effect of thermal bridges on the buildings overall energy loss.

Essentially, the aim is to increase the energy performance of new constructions, allowing technical information to be available for designers and engineers in the design stage of a building construction,  which will help predict the energy performance of the build – ensuring standards and regulations are met.

What did you previously study and where?

I studied Mechanical Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University before starting my PhD here at Salford.

Why did you choose to study a sponsored PhD?

I wanted to study something to do with renewable energy or something to increase energy efficiency. I think this is an area in need of development and it will benefit the human race, by reducing carbon emissions and reducing consumer cost of energy use.

What made you choose the University of Salford?

Salford has a really good energy department, offering facilities such as the Energy House, which is a one-of-a-kind testing laboratory world-wide.

How will your PhD help you with future career plans?

When I am a Doctor, I will be an expert in the topic of thermal bridging – specifically how to model and measure structural thermal breaks and their application. So, there won’t be many other people in the country who have the same specialised knowledge regarding this topic.

Tell me about what you’re focusing on within your course…

The title of my research is: “An exploration of the modelled and measured hygrothermal characteristics of structural thermal break products”. Hygrothermal refers to the movements of heat and moisture through buildings. Cold surfaces cause a condensation risk, leading to mould growth which is another focus of my research, on-top of energy loss assessments.

Why should prospective students apply for a sponsored PhD?

PhD’s are important because they advance the knowledge and understanding in specific areas, which change the world. It is extremely fulfilling and rewarding to help contribute to academic and industrial advancements.

Tell me about the PhD you are studying here at Salford…

The type of PhD I am studying is industry sponsored. It is called an ICASE PhD. I am sponsored by Farrat Isolevel, and this research will benefit them because it will add certification to the products they sell, showing that they are fit-for-purpose and that the effects of using their products are well known.

What’s been your favourite part of being at the University of Salford so far?

I really like the campus, it seems to have been the focus of a lot of investment recently and I am benefitting from all the new refurbishments. It’s a walkable distance to Manchester centre, which I have always loved for the bars, music scene, and general architecture. People are genuine and friendly here, and I have a good academic and professional team around me to aid my research.

Joe’s research is a brilliant example of how industry and research collaborate to address 21st century challenges. Research at Salford strives to identify how we might design, deliver and experience cities differently, considering issues at the local and global level. Thermal Bridging is just one example where Salford is using its world-class facilities and academic expertise to help create a better urban future. 

Industrial Case Studentships (iCASE), such as Joe’s research, provides funding for PhD studentships where businesses take the lead in arranging projects with an academic partner of their choice. These awards provide PhD students with a first-rate, challenging research training experience, with mutually beneficial research collaboration outputs for academics and partner organisations.

You can find more information about the iCase PhD here: