Research Facilities

Aston focuses on high quality, translatable research that has an impact on the real world around us. This pioneering research is completed within some of the highest quality labs, computer centres and surroundings.

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Engineering and Applied Science Facilities

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Our suite of cutting-edge chemistry and chemical engineering technology enables our academics to make cutting-edge advancements in the fields of Materials and Bioenergy. Specific facilities of note include:

  • Mechanical testing suite with cyclic fatigue and DMA capabilities

  • Advanced materials characterisation facility, including:

    • Scanning Electron Microscopes
    • X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy
    • Fourier Transform Infrared
    • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
    • Gel Permeation Chromatography

Computer Science

Our Computer Science department hosts state-of-the-art Computer Science facilities, allowing researchers and academics access to our completely wireless computer science labs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Further to this, our academics benefit from:

  • Aston Lab for Intelligent Collectives Engineering (ALICE) lab with robots and a 3D printer

  • Access to our new ‘Z Space lab’, boasting 3D enabled computers

  • Aston Interactive Media (AIM) lab for the research and development of innovative interactive media

  • Systems Analytics Research Institute (SARI) lab with GPU servers (GPU - use of a graphics processing unit (GPU) together with a CPU to accelerate deep learning, analytics, and engineering applications)

  • Beautiful Canoe student company which enables us to offer several summer internships working on real-life projects for external companies

Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Researchers can utilise the brand new “maker lab” which allows for project work with five 3D printers, circuit prototyping and a laser cutter.

Energy & Bioproducts

The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University is a unique hub of bioenergy research and technology development. It is home to academic and industry facing teams that aim to accelerate the commercial development of emerging energy, bioproducts and supporting technologies. 

The £21m Institute has seven laboratories, meeting spaces and a gasification pilot plant, incorporating a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine that can provide the heat, electricity and cooling needs of the building and part of the University’s campus. It is the first demonstration plant of its kind in the UK, incorporating interoperable distributed energy technologies which can support the traditional energy system through demand side grid management. This unique development offers a number of uses from powering electric vehicles to a low carbon network for cities.

 Key areas of research:

  • Thermochemical processing, including pyrolysis and gasification to produce liquid and gaseous fuels
  • Biological conversion of biomass, including microalgae and Anaerobic Digestion (AD)
  • Catalyst development, production and characterisation
  • Integration of conversion technologies in biorefinery systems to deliver sustainable bioproducts
  • Environmental, social and economic impacts of bioenergy systems
  • Smart distributed energy systems including Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology

Contact

Dr Daniel Nowakowski, EBRI Laboratory Manager: d.j.nowakowski@aston.ac.uk 
Dr Clara Serrano, EBRI Plant Manager: c.serrano@aston.ac.uk 

Mechanical Engineering and Design

Mechanical Engineering and Design research covers many topics including architectural, engineering and design specialisms. We heavily invest in our research facilities and offer our academics use of:

  • Model shop having:

    • Maker space (four additional 3D printers)

    • Five 3D printers
    • Laser cutting
    • Silicone moulding
    • Vacuum forming and foam cutting facilities
  • Design studio – interactive space, and PCs with software including:
    • Clay modelling facilities for automotive design
    • Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. 
    • Surface modelling using Solidworks and Keyshot
  • Dedicated project-based learning space with bookable student booths, assembly areas and professional drawing boards
  • Engine test lab (five engine test cells, with hydraulic and electrical dynamometers, Kistler combustion analyser, emissions analyser)

  • Fuel characterisation and preparation lab

  • CNC Machine Shop

  • Plasma cutting facility

  • Formula student garage & Shell Eco garage

  • Biomedical research lab with tissue and cell preparation areas, fume cupboards and microscopy facilities

  • Materials characterisation suite with advanced cyclic multi-axial testing equipment

  • Desalination and water treatment research lab with under-floor drainage

  • Solar array simulator

  • Solar thermal simulator

Aston Business School

Conference Aston

Aston Business School is located on Aston Street close to the Main Building. The building is home to Conference Aston, a newly refurbished 4* trip advisor, hotel and conference centre. The MBA lounge provides academics with a dedicated workspace ideal for collaborative projects.

The School of Life and Health Sciences and Aston Medical School

The School of Life and Health Sciences has a wealth of advanced facilities available for academic research and study purposes. Our students and academics are privileged to access modern, state-of-the-art equipment during their time at Aston University. See our subject specific guide below to find out what facilities we enjoy.

Healthcare Science (Audiology) BSc

  • A clinical skills laboratory which is equipped with the latest Audiology equipment.

Biochemistry BSc (Hons), Biological Sciences BSc (Hons), Biomedical Science BSc (Hons)

  • Extensive and well equipped laboratories with up-to-date equipment and projection facilities for demonstration purposes
  • A large computer laboratory.

Biomedical Engineering BEng/MEng

Following a £3.8 million investment, Aston University has the UK’s first 3D computer laboratories as well as a walk in 3D environment (CAVE). This allows our students to build and realistically test devices as well as aiding learning. We also have:

  • One of the largest number of zSpace virtual reality computer workstations in the world
  • A VICON motion capture and gait analysis laboratory
  • Movement tracking and evaluation suite
  • Maker fabrication lab which includes resources such as 3D printers, laser cutters and electronics workbenches
  • Dedicated bespoke laboratories where our students can plan, design, create and test devices to meet medical needs.

The Aston iOS Visual Acuity Suite has also been developed to deliver highly consistent near and far vision testing under a variety of conditions for medical research, clinical trials and domiciliary applications. The system makes sure of the extremely high pixel density of modern display technology to the full range of visual acuity testing for near vision type testing.

Our Aston Reading Speed Application provides an order of magnitude reduction in the time required to test for critical print size and reading speed metrics for the researcher and practitioner alike. The system features automated voice “sentence” measurement to determine reading times and eye tracking to ensure the subject under test keeps the iOS device at the correct distance throughout testing maximising user compliance.

Neuroscience BSc (Hons)

Our students have access to:

  • Neuroscience, psychology, biology and pharmacology laboratories
  • Biopac systems for measuring human physiology and EEG.

Our state-of-the-art neuroscience laboratory is also equipped with research-grade brain slice recording systems and a range of other high-level equipment.

Optometry BSc (Hons) /MOptom (Hons)

Our modern, purpose built Vision Sciences building provides outstanding facilities for undergraduate and postgraduate learning, research and clinical work. The facilities we possess include:

  • A fully functioning Optometry clinic – The Aston Eye Clinic
  • A clinical skills laboratory, equipped with the latest instruments identical to those used in practice
  • The onsite Optegra refractive surgery hospital. This day hospital is unique in Europe and houses the first university cornea and refractive research centre in the UK. It brings together our research in areas such as brain imaging, human myopia (short sight) and epilepsy.

Pharmacy MPharm (Hons)

The MPharm course utilises specialist teaching and research laboratories recently refitted to very high standards in a £3m upgrade project. The facilities include:

  • Extensive and well equipped laboratories
  • A purpose-built dispensing practice laboratory
  • Medicines management clinical examination suite, to support the learning of modern pharmacy areas such as clinical care and prescribing
  • Dispensary suite mainly used for dispensing drug products to patients and other patient-pharmacist simulation exercises.

Psychology BSc (Hons), Psychology and Business BSc (Hons), Psychology and Marketing BSc (Hons), Psychology and Sociology BSc (Hons)

Aston University has recently invested over £400,000 to establish dedicated psychology laboratories for our students. These modern facilities include:

  • An observation suite with covert audiovisual recording.
  • Tools for psychophysiological measurement.
  • A driving simulator
  • Eye tracking technology
  • Motion-capture technology
  • Cubicles for computer-based cognitive experiments
  • Larger labs for focus groups and audience based experiments.

Languages and Social Sciences

Researchers in LSS have access to the latest specialist software tools for translation and linguistic analysis, as well as statistical packages and audio/visual packages. LSS has licenses for TRADOS and Wordsmith as well as NVivo and several other software suites.

Corpus Linguistics

  • AntConc – corpus linguistics analysis of written texts. [Free, Win + Mac + Linux]

  • Basic English Stanford Tagger – assigns parts-of-speech to each word in written texts. [Free, open-source, requires Java 8+]

  • CHILDES – the Child Language Data Exchange Scheme is not installed, but provides an online resource for sharing and studying children’s conversational interactions.

  • EXMARaLDA – a system for working with oral corpora (digital audio and video) on a computer. It consists of a transcription and annotation tool (Partitur-Editor), a tool for managing corpora (Corpus-Manager) and a query and analysis tool (EXAKT). [Free, open-source, Win + Mac + Linux]

  • Wordsmith – lexical analysis including concordance and word frequency [Win]. Aston students can request a licence by emailing sales@lexically.net using their aston.ac.uk email address.

Translation

  • CatsCradle – website translation software that facilitates the translation of all content without damaging the HTML markup code. This is installed on all the PCs

  • memoQ – professional translation software. This is installed on the PCs in NX06 A and B. LSS also has a small number of 1-year licences for installation on personal PCs [Win]

  • SDL Trados Studio 2017 – professional translation software. This is installed on the PCs in NX06 A and B

  • SDL Passolo 2018– professional localization software, used in the software and gaming industries. This is installed on the PCs in NX17.

Data Analysis and Programming

  • NVivo 11 – professional software used to store, organise, tag, analyse and present qualitative data (text, images, audio, video). NVivo is available to install on personal PCs on request

  • R and R Studio – R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. R Studio includes a code editor, debugging & visualization tools. [Free, open-source, Win + Mac + Linux]

  • Python – a general purpose programming language [Free, open-source, Win + Mac]

  • Strawberry Perl – a scripting and programming language [Free, Win].

Audio and Video

  • Audacity – audio recorder and editor. [Free, open-source, Win + Mac + Linux]

  • Aegisub – add hardsub or softsub subtitles to videos. [Free, open-source, Win + Mac + Linux]

  • Subtitle Workshop – create softsub  subtitles for videos [Free, open-source, Win]

  • VideoPad – video editor [Win + Mac + iOS + Android].

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Midlands Innovation Shared Facilities

We are a member of Midlands Innovation, a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of leading universities in the heart of the UK. The Midlands Innovation equipment catalogue facilitates equipment sharing between its research-intensive universities, with a repository of all equipment available at each member institution. Click here to see what research facilities you can access as part of this consortium.

Go to Midlands Innovation equipment catalogue