Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


Dr Paul Cunningham MEng, PhD, FHEA

Photo of Dr Paul Cunningham

Senior University Teacher

Automotive Engineering MSc Programme Director


Paul started his career in the aerospace sector as an Airframe / Engine Craftsman, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Bedford) from 1987 – 1992 and then studied an M.Eng in Aerospace Systems Engineering, at the University of Southampton, graduating in1996. He then continued at Southampton as a Research Assistant and gained his PhD “Dynamic response of doubly curved composite sandwich structures to high-intensity acoustic excitation” in 2001. Paul continued as a Postdoctoral researcher working on Infra-red techniques to detect and characterise damage in composite structures and in 2002 became part of the Academic staff in the School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton. In 2004 Paul joined Smiths Aerospace (Hamble), as a Principle Stress Engineer, returning to academia in 2007, by joining Loughborough University, Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering, as Lecturer and subsequently Senior Lecturer in Advanced Aerospace Materials and Structures.


  • MEng - Aerospace Systems Engineering, University of Southampton, 1992 – 1996
  • PhD - Dynamic response of doubly curved composite sandwich structures to high intensity acoustic excitation, University of Southampton, 2001

Key awards and Accomplishments

  • William Sweet Smith Prize. Awarded by the Aerospace Industries Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2002.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Outline of main research interests

Advanced Aircraft Structures:

  • Design and Manufacture
  • Stress Analysis

Composite Materials and Structures:

  • Out-of-Autoclave Processing
  • Damage Initiation and Growth
  • Multi-axis Fibre Architectures

Experimental Mechanics:

  • Thermoelastic Stress Analysis
  • Pulse-Phase Thermography

Research groups

  • Light Weight Structures

Research grants and contracts

  • Next Generation Composite Structures from Multi-Architecture Pre-Form Systems, 2009 – 2010.
  • Transport iNet Higher Education Collaboration Fund project in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and M. Wright and Sons Ltd. Funded by the East Midlands Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund.

Current teaching responsibilities

  • TTB109 Aircraft Structural Loading
  • TTC012 Spacecraft Engineering
  • TTD013 Aircraft Structural Analysis
  • TTP402 Body Engineering

Current administrative responsibilities

  • Part C Aero Tutor

Whiteley, M., Dunnett, S., Jackson, L. (2020) Simulation of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell degradation using an integrated Petri Net and 0D model. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 196.

Latsou, C., Dunnett, S.J., Jackson, L.M. (2019) A new methodology for automated Petri Net generation: Method application. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 185.

Stoneman, M.-J., Jackson, L., Dunnett, S., Cooke, L. (2019) Enhanced understanding of risk assessment in police custody in England and Wales using statistical modelling. Safety Science, 117.

Yan, R., Dunnett, S.J., Jackson, L.M. (2018) Novel methodology for optimising the design, operation and maintenance of a multi-AGV system. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 178.

Yan, R., Jackson, L.M., Dunnett, S.J. (2017) Automated guided vehicle mission reliability modelling using a combined fault tree and Petri net approach. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 92(5-8).

Vasilyev, A., Andrews, J., Jackson, L.M., Dunnett, S.J., Davies, B. (2017) Component-based modelling of PEM fuel cells with bond graphs. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 42(49).

Whiteley, M., Dunnett, S., Jackson, L. (2016) Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, and Fault Tree Analysis of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 41(2).

View publications in our central publications database

External Collaborators


  • Transport iNet
  • University of Nottingham
  • M. Wright and Sons Ltd.
  • East Midlands Development Agency

External roles and appointments

Major Conference Activity


  • Member of the National Technical Committee for the 17th International Conference on Composite Materials (ICCM17), 27th-31st July 2009, Edinburgh, UK
  • Organiser of The Symposium on Sandwich Structures (ICCM17)
  • Member of the International Scientific Committee for the 7th International Conference on Modern Practice in Stress and Vibration Analysis (MPSVA), 8th-10th September 2009, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Member of the technical committee for the 6th British Society for Strain Measurement International Conference on Recent Advances in Experimental Mechanics, 9th – 11th September, 2008, NPL, London, UK


Journal Referee


  • The Journal of Composite Materials.
  • Composites Science and Technology.
  • Journal of Sandwich Structures and Materials.
  • Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing