The Bristol-based Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), a not-for-profit specialist in digital engineering, has announced the appointment of Dr James Gopsill to develop a joint digital engineering capability between CFMS and the University of Bristol.

The five-year, co-funded role forms part of a strategic partnership between the two organisations to develop new digital tools, methods and models that address challenges posed by the Industrial Strategy, of which digital transformation is at the heart.

Dr Gopsill, who joins CFMS as a Research Fellow in digital engineering, will build a team which reinforces and extends the West of England’s capability in high-value design (HVD) and supports the much-awaited DETI project. DETI is a research, innovation and skills initiative that will develop and accelerate digital engineering across multiple industry sectors.

Working with Guy Johns, Lead Technologist at CFMS, Dr Gopsill will develop innovative digital technologies including design tools for machine learning and artificial intelligence, digital twins and model-based systems engineering, amongst others.

Prof. Ian Risk, Chief Technology Officer at CFMS, said: “As two organisations passionate about finding solutions to the global civic challenge, especially pertinent in the wake of Covid-19, James’s appointment couldn’t come at a better time. Managing and recovering from the coronavirus crisis could be the catalyst for a long-term digitally driven partnership between academia, industry and government so we’re delighted to be working with the University of Bristol and James to advance the region’s digital capabilities and support its economic recovery.”

Prof. Ben Hicks, who’s both Director of Strategic Partnerships and Head of Engineering Systems and Design at the University of Bristol, commented: “Strategic partnerships are becoming increasingly important and fundamental to the UK’s R&D capability. Our partnership with CFMS provides both the ‘pull’ and ‘push’ necessary to accelerate the impact of our research and ensure that it truly meets the current and future needs of industry. James’ appointment is both a keystone for integrating our regional activities in High Value Manufacturing and developing the region’s digital engineering capability.”

Dr James Gopsill, Research Fellow at CFMS, added: “I get a real buzz from seeing my academic research become industry-applicable so this joint role with CFMS and University of Bristol will allow me to harness and develop my own skills in digital engineering, as well as contribute to the future success of the industry both locally and nationally. I’m also incredibly fortunate to be involved in the DETI project where I’ll be helping train the next generation of data engineers and delivering next-generation, high-value design systems.”

Dr Gopsill, who has just finished a two-year UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Researcher-in-Residence role at the National Composite Centre (NCC), will split his time between CFMS and the University of Bristol.

Funding for the role has been taken from the £725 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which is being delivered by UKRI.

The ISCF provides funding and support to UK business and researchers and aims to develop new technologies, innovations and processes to improve productivity, performance and skills in the UK.

The partnership between CFMS and the University of Bristol is one of a number of strategic partnerships between the University and industry and complements other joint and co-funded projects with organisations including NCC, Airbus and Rolls Royce.

The partnership also supports major investments like DETI, which will provide another mechanism to coalesce and provide capability in the region. CFMS is a key strategic partner in the DETI programme, which is being led by the NCC.

Supporting the region’s Local Industrial Strategy, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) recently announced a £5 million investment in DETI to match-fund £5 million from West of England industry and academic partners.

Geraint Evans