Matthew Mead

Matthew Mead, from Redborne Upper School in Bedfordshire, spent this summer working with Dr Sethi at Cranfield University and created a performance simulation model for a gas turbine engine.  

How did you get involved in the Nuffield Bursary Programme and why did you want to take part in the programme?
My Mum is a teacher at a different school to mine and informed me about Nuffield when her school started the application process.  I decided to apply because I wanted to do engineering but wasn’t sure which specialism. My hopes were to find out what real engineers do, confirm this is what I wanted to do at university, and to help decide which specialism I would take.

Matthew MeadWhat were the aims of your project, and how did you go about achieving these?
The main aim of my project was to provide a contribution to the development of a Techno-Economic Analysis (TERA) for supersonic military reconnaissance applications. To do this I had to:

  • familiarise myself with gas turbine theory and performance
  • do a literature survey on military engines
  • familiarise myself with the in-house gas turbine performance simulation software (Turbomatch)
  • develop performance simulation models of the Pratt & Whitney J58-P4 engines (based on data from the public domain) which powers the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird aircraft, and to assess the performance of the model for a complete mission profile
  • do an assessment of different preliminary weight estimation techniques
  • do an assessment of the weight of the P&W J58-P4 engines using suitable weight estimation models, comparing the result to that of the real engines

How have you shared your bursary experience with others at school?
First day back at school, everyone asks “What did you do over summer?”, so when I reply “Designed an aero-engine” people respond with amazement and curiosity, so I tell them about gas turbine engines, usually just confusing them. I also gave my report to my physics teachers who themselves are amazed by the concept of gas turbine engines and the work I put in.

What are your longer term plans and how did your bursary experience affect these plans?
My plan was to study engineering at university, though I was unsure as to which specialism I should pursue. After the bursary and working on gas turbine engines I decided that I would study to be an aeronautical engineer.