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Professor Karen M Holford CBE, FREng, CEng, FIMechE, FLSW, FWES

Professor Karen M Holford

CBE, FREng, CEng, FIMechE, FLSW, FWES

Professor

School of Engineering

Email
holford@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 20 874607
Campuses
VCO, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

My current role at Cardiff University is Deputy Vice-Chancellor.  I also continue to engage in research as Research Professor in Mechancial Engineering. From 2012 -2017 I led the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering as the founding Pro Vice-Chancellor and prior to this I was Head of the School of Engineering.

In 2015 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and in 2016 I was named as one of the top 50 most influential women engineers in the UK. In 2018 I received a CBE for services to engineering and the advancement of women in engineering and  in 2019 received the Suffrage Science award in Physical Sciences and Engineering. I have served as a Council member for UKRI STFC and a member of the ESPRC Strategic Advisory Network, having previously served as the external Chair of the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team. I recently (2020) took up the role of Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee.

My engineering career spans industry and academia; beginning at Rolls-Royce (Aero) as an undergraduate engineer,  followed by a number of roles at AB Electronic Products Ltd.,  culminating in a position as senior engineer with technical responsibility for all projects and leadership of a large mechanical design team, before pursuing an acdemic career where, during 30 years at Cardiff University,  I have engaged in research with industrial impact and research-led learning and teaching together with a significant administrative and leadership profile.

Biography

I am the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University and Professor in Mechanical Engineering. In my primary role I work with the Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors to provide leadership to the University and deliver the goals of our strategy and I deputise for the Vice-Chancellor in his absence. My specific responsibilities include: strategic oversight of resource allocation and budgeting; strategic planning processes and policies; University estate and staff strategies; oversight of the dignity, diversity and staffing strategies and policies; the sustainable development of the University in its widest sense and leadership of projects of strategic importance across the breadth of our activities. I have particular interests in facilitating industrial collaborations in research and teaching, inclusivity, equality and diversity, championing of interdisciplinary activities and the development of early career researchers. In 2015 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and in 2016 I was named as one of the top 50 most influential women engineers in the UK. In 2018 I received a CBE for services to engineering and the advancement of women in engineering.

My career spans industry and academia. At Rolls Royce I contributed to a range of technical projects including development of Adour and Pegasus engines in collaboration with engineers from Europe and the United States. At AB Electronic Products I was responsible for management of technical projects including the design and development of a significant new product (a thin film pressure sensor for BMW ABS systems) as well as developing automotive electronic products for Jaguar Rover.  On promotion to senior engineer in 1988 I had technical responsibility for all projects and led a large mechanical design team.

During 30 years at Cardiff University I have engaged in research with industrial impact and research-led learning and teaching together with a significant administrative and leadership profile. In my first role as Course Director for a new degree scheme (Integrated Engineering) I was responsible for gaining Engineering Council approval to be one of 6 Universities to pilot this scheme; I designed the curriculum, obtained industrial sponsorship and achieved IMechE/IEE accreditation. As Mechanical Engineering Degree Scheme Director I oversaw a major reorganisation of teaching into a modular structure. As Research Institute Director I led the Mechanical UOA submission for RAE2008, which saw the greatest improvement in Cardiff of any UoA. As Head of School of Engineering I led the merger of the Manufacturing Engineering Centre with the School. As founding Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff University from 2012 -2017 I contributed to the leadership of major organisational change during our transition into a College structure and was responsible for the submission of 8 Units of Assessment for REF2014 in which Cardiff University was ranked 5th in the UK for research quality and 2nd in the UK for the impact our work.  I have published 160+ research works including 90+ papers in peer-reviewed journals and have been PI/CI on research projects totalling over £7.5M, funded from a wide range of sources including EPSRC, InnovateUK, KTP, EU and industry. I have successfully supervised 22 research students and currently supervise 3 PhD students.

My primary research theme is damage assessment using acoustic emission applied across a range of industrial applications including bridges (commercialised under licence agreement with Physical Acoustics Ltd and included in a Highways Agency Advice note and the topic of a 4* REF2014 Case Study) and aerospace landing gear (with EPSRC and Messier-Dowty) and across a range of materials including composites (with Airbus and Boeing), concrete and metals.  I engage with industry at every level, from leading global engineering organisations such as Airbus through to local SMEs.

I also contribute to engineering policy and advice: for example through membership of STFC Council, EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network (SAN) the RAEng Engineering Policy Centre working Group and Research Committee.

Honours and awards

Honours and awards

  • 2019 Suffrage Science award; Physical Sciences and Engineering
  • 2018 named of one of Wales' 100 most influential women http://100women.walesonline.co.uk/index.html
  • 2017 CBE for contributions to engineering and advancement of women in engineering
  • 2016 Top 50 most influential women engineers in the UK
  • 2015 elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • 2001 Shortlisted  "UKRC Women of Outstanding Achievement” award for Inspiration and Leadership
  • 2009 IMechE, Charles Sharpe Beecher prize.  Aerospace Division BEST PAPER
  • 2007 WISE Excellence Award for “personal contribution to engineering and a long term commitment to supporting girls and young women in science and engineering
  • 2006 Welsh Woman of the Year in Science and Technology “in recognition of notable achievements in her field”
  • 2002 Royal Academy of Engineering prize: “Engineering Excellence” in TCS work
  • 1993 - 1997 Esso/Royal Academy Engineering Teaching Fellow; One of 6 awards out of 76 applicants

Patents and Licences

  • 2005 Licence agreement awarded with Physical Acoustics Ltd for Monitoring of Bridges using Acoustic Emission

Participation in advisory, review, funding or standard setting bodies

  • 2019                    Member of the Wales HE Camm Governance Review Group
  • 2019 onwards     Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee
  • 2019 onwards     Member of the NPL Science and technology Advisory Committee
  • 2019 onwards     Member of Welsh Government Women in STEM, Industry sub committee
  • 2018 onwards     Member of Welsh Government Women in STEM Board
  • 2017 - 2020        Non-Executive Director UKRI STFC Council; including membership of Finance and Governance Committee, Science Board Applications and Nominations Committee and STFC/Innovate UK joint forum.
  • 2017                    Member of RG Post-18 review advisory group
  • 2017                    Panel Member for the “Reid Review of Research and Innovation Funding in Wales”
  • 2016                   Chair Welsh Government review and co-author of report “Talented women for a Successful Wales” – on the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in STEM-related study and careers
  • 2012 - 2019        Member of EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network (SAN)
  • 2013 - 2016        Chair of EPSRC Engineering SAT (member since 2012)
  • 2003 onwards     EPSRC College of Peer Review
  • 2004 -2006         BINDT AE Working Group: Standards and examinations for AE (CM-GEN)
  • 2001 - 2009        DTI Measurement Advisory Committee (MAC) Working Group on Acoustics

Professional memberships

FREng

CEng

FIMechE

FLSW

FWES

Academic positions

External Examiner Motorsport MSc Cranfield 2005 - 2009.

Research degree External Examiner at Sheffield, Southampton, Heriot-Watt, Cranfield, Robert Gordon, Loughborough, Derby, Queens University Belfast, University of Iceland and Queensland University of Technology.

Speaking engagements

  • Invited Keynote Speaker, World Conference on Acoustic Emission, Beijing, 2011.
  • Invited Keynote Speaker, DAMAS 2009, Beijing, China.
  • Invited Seminars; UNSW Australia and Hong Kong Polytechnic (2007)
  • Chair of 27th European Conference on Acoustic Emission testing (Sept 2006)
  • Chair of 4th International Conference on Damage Assessment 2001 in Cardiff (sponsored by IMechE, IOP, EPSRC)
  • International Advisory Board; 19th International Acoustic Emission Symposium, Kyoto, Japan, 2008

Committees and reviewing

External Commitees

  • Panel Member  Research England "Expanding Excellence in England" 2018
  • Panel Member "Reid Review" 2017
  • Council Member STFC 2017 -
  • Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee 2016 -
  • Royal Academy of Engineering Membership Commitee Panel 5
  • Chair, EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team 2012 - 2016
  • Member EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network 2012 - present
  • Elected Member of EPSRC College of Peer Review since 2003

Publications

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

1999

  • Holford, K. M. and Carter, D. C. 1999. Acoustic emission source location. Presented at: International Conference on Damage Assessment of Structures (DAMAS 99), Dublin, Ireland, 28-30 June 1999 Presented at Gilchrist, M. D., Dulieu-Barton, J. M. and Worden, K. eds.Damage Assessment of Structures. Key Engineering Materials Vol. 167/68. Durnten-Zurich: Trans Tech Publications pp. 162-171.
  • Pullin, R., Carter, D. C. and Holford, K. M. 1999. Damage assessment in steel bridges. Presented at: International Conference on Damage Assessment of Structures (DAMAS 99), Dublin, Ireland, 28-30 June 1999 Presented at Gilchrist, M. D., Dulieu-Barton, J. M. and Worden, K. eds.Damage Assessment of Structures. Key Engineering Materials Vol. 167/68. Durnten-Zurich: Trans Tech Publications pp. 335-342.

1998

Teaching

TEACHING PROFILE (to 2012)

  • Nominated for an “enriching student life award” 2016
  • HEFCW Teaching assessment awarded an “excellent” rating
  • Consistent and sustained Course Monitoring and Evaluation of teaching above 4.5 out of 5
  • Engaged in teaching and related administration at all undergraduate and postgraduate levels over a wide range of engineering subjects
  • Led the Mechanical Engineering Teaching Discipline as Director of Studies and Chair of Board of Studies
  • Published five papers connected with teaching, one of which was recognised nationally by the IEEE as being a paper of significant importance.
  • School of Engineering “Teacher of the Year” awards in 2006 and 2010.

Research theme: Mechanics, Materials and Advanced Manufacturing

RESEARCH PROFILE

I have worked in the field of Acoustic Emission (AE) since 1984, when I was a contributor to the SERC Marine Technology Programme "The behaviour of wire ropes in offshore applications" through my PhD. I also worked as a consultant to a programme of research into AE of wire ropes at the National Engineering Laboratory. Upon return to academia following a period in industry, I worked hard and independently to establish myself in an area of research which was new to the University.  The now substantial reputation of the AE group in Cardiff has grown through provision of research funds from EPSRC, InnovateUK, EU and industrial sponsors. The work is directed towards the application of AE for damage assessment of structures and the strategy has been to achieve long-term quality by well-designed research programmes and transfer of technology to field applications; recognition of this is exemplified by the high level of industrial support, a licence agreement with Physical Acoustics for bridge inspection, an impact case study for REF 2014 and the Highways Agency advice note for the use on the technique in the field. I have directed a research team by drawing in researchers in other disciplines across the school and in other major UK universities.  In 2007 I led the development of the Cardiff University Structural Performance (CUSP) laboratories, a £2.4M project that I led from inception to completion and which integrates theoretical, experimental and computational research methodologies to develop new materials and structures and advance multi-scale modelling of mechanical response and damage mechanisms. Through my leadership, Cardiff University has gained an international reputation for research in AE and has the best equipped experimental AE facility in Europe.

Initially, signal characterisation was the theme of a series of collaborative projects with research fellows from China, funded by the British Council and The Royal Society Fellowship Programme. Subsequently I realised that accurate source location was essential to implementation of AE for structural health monitoring; an extensive programme of work on bridge monitoring was conducted in collaboration with Physical Acoustics UK Ltd and resulted in the successful transfer of the technology into the field as exemplified by contracts with organisations such as WS Atkins and The Highways Agency for the evaluation of major motorway bridges and background research, this formed a highly rated impact case study for REF2014.  The papers published during this programme have been cited widely. A major research programme for fatigue damage assessment of landing gear was completed in conjunction with Messier-Dowty Ltd (now Saffran Group), under an EPSRC grant and extended into the verification stage. My group is making a major contribution to the knowledge of the technique of Acoustic Emission in particular the application of the technique to the location of faults in real engineering structures.   The current work is not only addressing parts of the technique which were previously ignored, such as the relationship between the physical parameters and the detected signal, but also the use of computational techniques in order to exploit these features for classification purposes and to increase location accuracy.

In recognition of the challenges faced by industry and society in quest of a new generation of safe, high performance lightweight, sustainable engineering products, the recent work of my group has been directed towards advanced materials, structures and mechanisms and novel manufacturing techniques which will become a vital part of almost every technological or engineering project. I continue as an active researcher but in order to accommodate University leadership responsibility my co-investigator, Dr Rhys Pullin, has recently succeeded me as Research Group Leader.

Research/Industrial Contracts Awarded

SPONSOR

TITLE

DATES

VALUE

Co-investigators

SERC

Health Monitoring of Steel Bridges-Graded Alpha 3

April 1993 - April 1996

£49,667

Mr A W Davies

HEFCW

Optimised Life

Jan1997 - July 1998

£95,260

Dr A W Davies

 

TCS

A condition monitoring method for the remaining life assessment of steel structures

June 1998 - June 2000

£86,888

Dr A W Davies

 

Royal Society

Royal Fellowship Programme

Jan 1998 - Dec1998

£11,000

Dr Tinghu Yan

(Nanjing)

 

WS Atkins

Monitoring of M6 motorway using Acoustic Emission

Dec1998 – Feb 1998

£21,398

Dr A W Davies

 

WSP Civils Ltd

AE Monitoring Steel Corbels - Queenhill Viaduct M50

July 2000

£8,146

Dr A W Davies

 

WSP Group plc

Kirkless Viaduct M62 - AE monitoring of bearings

July 2000

£1,780

Dr A W Davies

 

WS Atkins

Trial Monitoring Transverse Steel Box Girders M5 J2

Oct 2000

£9,425

Dr A W Davies

 

EPSRC

CASE/PAL

Quantitative Damage Assessment of Concrete Structures Using AE and AEUT

October 2000

£48,050

Dr A W Davies

 

TCS

Development of a new AE monitoring service for the damage assessment and structural integrity monitoring of a variety of structures

October 2000

£96,112

Dr A W Davies

 

Birmingham City Council

Investigating a probable fatigue cracking at a welded joint on the Aston Expressway

May 2001

£5,539

Dr A W Davies

 

WDA/NAFL/ELWa

Centre of Excellence for sustainable energy and process management

May 2001

£300,000*

PI Prof N Syred etc (13)

 

TRL

Management of bridges with sub-standard shear studs – AE testing

July 2001 – Jan 2002

£6,102

Dr A W Davies

 

ELWA

Acoustic Emission Technology Package

Dec2001 - July 2002

£147,884

Dr A W Davies and Dr R Lark

 

The Royal Mint

Flaw Detection during continuous casting by Acoustic Emission

Jan 2002 - May 2002

£1,405

Dr A W Davies and Dr R Pullin

 

Amey Mouchal

AE monitoring of roller bearings

July 2002 – Feb 2003

£48,340

Services Rendered with Dr A W Davies

 

Gwent Consultancy

Usk River Bridge - Investigation of Deck Beam Thrust Hinges

August 2002 - Sept 2002

£11,892

PI Dr R Lark

 

WS Atkins

AE monitoring of Orwell Bridge Bearings

October 02

£9,453

Services Rendered

 

Messier Dowty

Damage Detection by AE during landing gear fatigue testing

March 03 – February 06

£128,278

Sole investigator

 

Amey Mouchal

AE monitoring of transverse box girder deck beam supports

Jan 03

£40,578

Sole investigator

 

Highways Agency

AE in Hinge Joints

April 03 – April 04

£25,388

Dr R Lark

 

Capita Gwent Consultancy

Christchurch Hill (Royal Oak) overbridge: Investigation of Deck beam thrust hinges

March 04

£8,000

Dr R Lark

 

EPSRC

Characterisation of Damage in Complex structures by AE during fatigue testing

November 2004

£267,237

Dr S Evans

 

Messier Dowty

Characterisation of Damage in Complex structures by AE during fatigue testing

November 2004

£125,000

Dr S Evans

 

WDA (KEF)

Performance Engineering

Jan 2005 – Dec 2005

£6,600

Dr M R Spratt

 

HEFCW

SRIF3 CUSP Laboratories

April 2006

£2,500,000

Dr S Evans, Dr C A Featherston, Dr R Lark, Dr CA Holt

 

TRL

Testing and monitoring to determine the condition of metallic structures (Highways agency advice note BA86)

July 2005

£7,000

Dr R Pullin

 

NPL

Validation of NPL reference source

March – May 2007

£6,000

Sole investigator

 

British Energy Group

Acoustic Emission Monitoring

Feb 2007 – June 2008

£9,910

Dr R Pullin

 

Atkins Ltd

Concrete Hinge Model Investigation

July 2007 – Dec 2007

£51,500

PI Dr R Lark

 

Messier Dowty

Fatigue of test lugs

Nov 2008 – ongoing

£31, 331

Dr S Evans, Dr R Pullin

 

Mesuro

Design and Manufacture

 

£6,981

Dr R Pullin

 

Technology Strategy Board

A lightweight Structural Health Monitoring System (SHeMS)

July 2009 – Sept 2012

£151, 154

Dr R Pullin, Dr S Evan, Dr CA Featherston

 

NPL

Acoustic Monitoring of a bridge structure

April 2009 – August 2009

£4,699

Prof R J Lark, Dr R Pullin

 

National Assembly for Wales (HEFCW)

ARROW – Aerospace Research Organisation Wales

June 2009 – Feb 2010

£18,662

Dr C A Featherston (PI)

 

National Assembly for Wales (HEFCW)

KTC Performance Engineering

Aug 2009 – July 2010

£281,246

Mr D J McCann, Dr R Pullin, Dr K M Holford

 

Royal Academy of Engineering

Acoustic Emissions in Structural Health Monitoring DAMAS CHINA

Aug 2009

£600

Sole Recipient

 

EADS UK Ltd

Measurement of displacement of composite panels due to lightening

Oct 2009-Dec 2009

£14,200

Dr CA Featherston (PI), Dr SL Evans, Dr R Pullin

 

AIRBUS UK

Power harvesting for aircraft structural health monitoring systems

Jan 2010 – Dec 2012

£34,000

Dr CA Featherston (PI), Dr R Pullin

 

EPSRC

PATHWAYS:

Nov 2011 –

June 2012

£39,164

Dr Liana Cipcigan(PI) Dr Huw Davies

 

EPSRC

Upgrading Small Equipment Base

Oct 2012 – March 2013

£498,326

PI with 30 ECR CIs

ECFP7

Design, manufacture and impact testing of advanced composite materials CARHAY2011

July 2013

- Sept 2013

£34424

CI with 3 others

 

Reid Lifting

Mechanical loading and drop testing of mounting brackets and T-Davit structures for lifting devices”

Aug 2012 – Nov 2012

£2552

CI with 3 others

 

TSB

Self-powered autonomous device for wireless structural health monitoring (SANDWICH)

May 2013 –

Oct 2016

£39816

CI with 3 others

 

TSB

SENsors to Inform and Enable wireless NeTworks (SENTIENT)

Jan 2014 – Dec 2016

£143963

CI with 3 others

 

GW4 AF 010

Advance the state of the art in damage detection in metallic and composite structures

 

£68,000

CI with 6 others

 

GW4 AF 010

Unlocking the science for an autonomous structural health monitoring system

 

£11, 414

CI with 6 others

 

Innovate UK (TSB)

MONTAGU

May 2015 –

Oct 2017

£114378

CI with 3 others

 

Mercedes AMG F1

Rate of Change of Torque (RoC) sensor technology to monitor torque fluctuations in gear systems in order to detect the development of fault conditions on the gear teeth.

July 2014- June/2017

£30k

CI with Pullin and Clarke

 

HEFCW

Ser Cymru Research Chair in Advanced Engineering and Materials

April 2016 – March 2020

£450,000

CI with 1 other

 

Ser Cymru

Ser Cymru Research Chair in Advanced Engineering and Materials

April 2016 – March 2021

£2,050,000

CI with 1 other

Supervision

Current supervision

alt

Yu Wang

Research student

Faisel Almudaihesh

Research student

Past projects

Supervised Students

TitleStudentStatusDegree
DAMAGE DETECTION IN ROTATING ELEMENTS USING ACOUSTIC EMISSIONCOCKERILL Aaron JamesGraduatePhD
Ultrasonic Lamb Wave Energy Transmission System for Aircraft Structyral Health Monitoring ApplicationsKURAL AleksanderGraduatePhD
Development Of A Transducer To Be Used In Long Range Ultrsonic TestingCHASTON Andrew MarkGraduateEngD
The Use of a Novel Rate of Change of Torque Technique for Damage Detection in Gear SystemsCAHILL BenGraduatePhD
ACOUSTIC EMISSION TECHNIQUES FOR THE STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY MONITORING OF STEEL BRIDGESCARTER Damian CharlesGraduatePhD
Acoustic Diagnostics in a Hot Strip MillMURRAY David IanGraduateEngD
Hot Mill Downcoiler Wrapper Gap ControlDAVIES Dyfyr LlywelGraduateEngD
AE Analysis of Prestressed Concrete StructuresELFERGANI HishamGraduatePhD
Advanced Acoustic Emission (AE) Monitoring Techniques for Aerospace StructuresMCCRORY John PatrickGraduatePhD
CONDITION MONITORING OF STEEL BRIDGES USING ACOUSTIC EMISSIONWATSON Jonathan RichardGraduateMPhil
Acoustic Emission (AE) Monitoring of Buckling and Failure in Carbon Fibre Composite StructuresEATON Mark JonathanGraduatePhD
Damage Assessment by Acoustic Emission (AE) During Landing Gear Fatigue TestingBAXTER MatthewGraduatePhD
Development of Experimental Rubber Toughened Bone CementsNICHOLAS MyfanwyGraduatePhD
Property Prediction Of Continuous Annealed SteelsWIGLEY Nicholas RoyGraduateEngD
Structural Health Monitoring-smart BridgeMUHAMAD BUNNORI NorazuraGraduatePhD
QUANTITATIVE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT OF CONCRETE STRUCTURES USING ACOUSTIC EMISSIONBECK PaulGraduatePhD
THE INFLUENCE OF HYDRAULIC SYSTEM DYNAMICS ON THE BEHAVIOUR OF A VEHICLE ACTIVE SUSPENSIONSURAWATTANAWAN PrakobGraduatePhD
Structural Integrity Monitoring of Steel Bridges Using Acoustic Emission TechniquesPULLIN RhysGraduatePhD
Development of a Magneto-Rheological Active Damping System to Improve the Yaw Response of a Racing VehicleELLIOTT Richard ChristopherGraduatePhD
DAMAGE ASSESSMENT IN COMPLEX STRUCTURES USING ACOUSTIC EMISSIONAL JUMAILI Safaa Khairry JeaazGraduatePhD
TRIBOLOGY AND DEFORMATION MECHANICS IN THE CONDITION MONITORING OF SHEET METAL FORMINGMCCARTAN Sean GerardGraduateEngD
Acoustic Emission For Fatigue Crack Monitoring In Nuclear Piping SystemMOHD ShukriGraduatePhD
Acoustic Emission Monitoring in Industrial ApplicationsBRADSHAW TimothyGraduateMPhil
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN INDUSTRIAL LEARNING CLASSIFIED SYSTEM FOR APPLICATION TO A STEEL NOT STRIP MILLBROWNE William Neil LongbourneGraduateEngD