View Full Version : PhD Opportunity in Dublin

09-09-2008, 07:49 PM
Dear Moderator,

Please could you post the following information, thank you:



DIT Bolton Street

Characterisation and Numerical Modelling of Viscoelastic Foams for Custom Seating for Wheelchair Users

Viscoelastic foams are widely used in providing custom seating solutions to severely disabled wheelchair users. Such users often have conditions such as scoliosis, meaning that the seat cushion must be formed to fit the contours of the individual’s spine. Users may also have limited motion of the upper body, meaning that they will often take up the same position for long spells of time without the ability to shift their bodyweight.

Careful design is therefore required to ensure that the user’s weight is supported in a distributed manner so as to improve comfort and support and more importantly to prevent the onset of pressure sores, since most users will spend most of their waking hours in the chair.

Viscoelastic foams have much to offer in the area due to their characteristics. However, due to their relatively complex time-dependent and temperature-dependent behaviour, it can be difficult to predict in advance how a particular foam solution will behave. In particular, the distribution of support for the user’s weight can be difficult to predict.

This project will involve the behaviour characterisation of the viscoelastic foams in use in the area, and eventual development of a numerical model, for use in areas such as finite element simulation. The work will interface with ongoing work on material testing and characterisation, and will be carried out in association with Enable Ireland’s posture management service, a body which provides such seating solutions for severely disabled persons.


This project is funded as part of the DIT ABBEST funding initiative. Candidates will receive €16,000 per year, tax free, for 3.5 years. Funding is also available for travel, conferences etc and fees will be paid for the duration of the scheme.


Research work will be carried out at DIT Bolton Street

Entry Requirements

Candidates should hold a good honours degree (2H1 or higher) in mechanical engineering, material science or a related discipline. Experience with numerical modelling using the finite element model, and/or material testing, will be an advantage.

Further Information

Dr Barry Duignan

Faculty of Engineering

DIT Bolton St

Dublin 1


(353) 1 4023881

John Tiernan BE(Hons) MEngSc MIEI,

Chartered Engineer,

Senior Clinical Engineer,

Eastern Region Postural Management Service,

Enable Ireland,

Sandymount Avenue,

Dublin 4,


Tel. +353 1 2615926

Fax. +353 1 2695816