In this article, we shine the spotlight on Dr. Timoleon Kipouros, Senior Research Associate at the Engineering Design Centre, Cambridge University, who focuses on Multidimensional Data Visualisation and Value Driven Design.
What is your role?
I have a number of different roles. I am a full time Senior Research Associate at the Engineering Design Centre at Cambridge University, and a Lead Researcher in the Change Management group and the Computational Design group. I am a Lecturer in Computational Engineering Design Optimisation at the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing at Cranfield University, and also the Lead Researcher in the Power and Propulsion Sciences group in the Propulsion Engineering Centre. Alongside this, I have a number of roles within Cambridge University; I am a Fellow, Director of Studies for second year engineers, a Tutor for undergraduate students, and a Trustee of Homerton College at the University of Cambridge, as a Council Member. Additionally, in context to my international collaborations, I am an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University, at the Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems, and a regular visitor senior researcher to the Centre for Research Computing at the University of Queensland.
Is there one particular role or area that you enjoy most?
Exactly! This question is why I wanted to mention all of the different types of roles I undertake; I enjoy the combination. I really enjoy a multidisciplinary environment for working, having something different to do everyday. I still enjoy teaching undergraduate students but I enjoy integrating research projects into my daily routine and conducting research at the top level at both Cambridge and Cranfield Universities, primarily in the aerospace industry. Aerospace is the area in which I am closest to and the main industry for my research activities. This is mostly due to my undergraduate degree and my admiration for aerodynamics and aircrafts in general. However, all of the methodologies we develop are generic so I also work within the automotive, the energy sector, renewable energies and so on.
Image on the right: At a workshop in Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, with industrialists and other academic colleagues
What is your background?
In 2002 I received my first degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Patras in Greece. Following this, I received
my PhD at the Engineering Design Centre from Cambridge in 2006, during which I focused on the Aerodynamic Design Optimisation of Turbomachinery Blades from a Multi-objective Perspective. I then received a postgraduate certificate in 2017 from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Systems Engineering.
In terms of your career path, going down the academic route - why was that?
When I was near to completion on my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to continue my studies so a PhD was a natural step. I made numerous applications and was accepted by the University of Cambridge. Being involved in university again but from a different level and perspective made me appreciate things in a different way. I enjoy the academic environment, but at the same time, I enjoy working within the aerospace industry. By working within academia it allows me to combine the two. The flexible hours at university are also an attraction, you do end up working long hours but that's just part of its beauty, keeping the routine interesting and different from day to day.
Is there an area of research you are focusing on at the moment?
I am incredibly passionate and active in Multidimensional Data Visualisation. My main stream of activities at the moment is to perform Multidimensional Data Analysis and Visualisation with the intention to support the engineering design process. Engineering design is the main focus of my research at the moment. Within this, my initial research took place looking into optimisation which is part of the design process. Now, most of my research derives from an engineering systems perspective, which comes from the opposite end of the engineering design process. Having that experience from both ends of the process, I can now see how to link them to, and what we need to do to create that link. This is helped by the fact digitalisation or digitisation has been well introduced in universities and in industry, and by having a clever way to deal with data. This allows you to synthesize different perspectives in order to perform engineering design.
Two examples can be seen in the following videos. In the first one, Demonstration of Change Propagation (CPM) simulations of aircraft architectures and their assessment according to Value Creation Strategies. The Value Assessment is performed by interactively visualising and analysing the multi-dimensional data in Parallel Coordinates. In the second, Value Assessment for Multidisciplinary Optimisation studies. Demonstration of interactive visualisation and analysis of multi-dimensional data in Parallel Coordinates.
What would you advise to the younger generation who share an interest in your research field?
As humans we have a strong sense of vision. We have the ability to think about something and to visualise it, however, we are also limited because we have been brought up in a three dimensional state. We need to be able to think beyond three dimensions, to be able solve problems and meet criteria. Therefore my advice would be to not limit yourself in three dimensionsional thinking, but to adopt a multidimensional way of thinking.
Are there any particular trends or predictions you can make for the aerospace industry?
I believe a lot of developments will happen around data, the manipulation, management and understanding of data. However, at the same time, the types of problems that the industry faces will change as we address different challenges. We are looking for innovative products in aerospace which means we will have to deal with new, novel problems which we have not encountered before. Previously, from traditional problems we have developed models and artificial intelligence which we now use to support the design or decision making process. However, going forward we will need to include human interactivity to deal with the new type of challenges, to identify a new set of questions which we haven’t discovered yet, or which we do not have answers to. I can see all of this evolving and demonstrating or materialising in a way through augmented reality or mixed reality environments. This type of image or pixel caption, in my mind, is the future of the next generation engineers.
Are you working on any projects?
My main project at the moment is APROCONE, a project led by Airbus which aims to develop new methods for aircraft wing design using the latest computing technologies. There are a number of market and environmental factors which are jeopardising the future of the aerospace industry, and through this collaborative project, we hope to create aircraft wings and other systems innovatively and at greater speed, to meet the demands of market and environment.
If you were stranded on a desert island, and you were granted three items, what would they be?
A photo album with pictures of my wife, family and friends. My favourite book on multidimensional data visualisation, to keep me thinking and dreaming, and of course, a survival knife to practice and develop new skills.
Image: Timos with Alfred Inselberg at the IEEE Vis 2014 Paris, France. After the Tutorial: Answering questions they did not know how to ask.
RAUDBERGET, D., LEVANDOWSKI, C., ISAKSSON, O., KIPOUROS, T., JOHANESSON, H. and CLARKSON, P. J. (2015) Modelling and assessing platform architectures in pre-embodiment phases through set-based evaluation and change propagation, Journal of Aerospace Operations,3(3-4), 203-221. DOI: 10.3233/AOP-150052.
MUNK, D. J., KIPOUROS, T., VIO, G. A., PARKS, G. T. and STEVEN, G. P. (2017) Multiobjective and multi-physics topology optimization using an updated smart normal constraint bi-directional evolutionary structural optimization method, Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 57, 665-688. DOI: 10.1007/s00158-017-1781-6. Here
DABABNEH, O. and KIPOUROS, T. (2018) A review of aircraft mass estimation, Aerospace Science and Technology,72, 256-266. DOI: 10.1016/j.ast.2017.11.006. Here
JU, Y., QIN, R., KIPOUROS, T., PARKS, G. T. and ZHANG, C. (2016) A high-dimensional design optimisation method for centrifugal impellers, Proc IMechE Part A: J Power and Energy, 230(3), 272-288.DOI: 10.1177/0957650915626274.
NGUYEN, H. A., ABRAMSON, D., KIPOUROS, T., JANKE, A. and GALLOWAY, G. (2015) WorkWays: Interacting with scientific workflows, Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience,27(16), 4377-4397.DOI: 10.1002/cpe.3525.