Professor Konstantinos Kontis
- Mechan Chair of Engineering / Professor of Aerospace Engineering (Aerospace Sciences)
- Dean for Global Engagement (China / East Asia) (External Relations)
Professor Kontis is a world-leading authority in aerospace engineering including integrated wing technologies, air-transport systems and space access, and multi-disciplinary applications of aerodynamics, shock physics, wind tunnel testing, flow control and diagnostics. He has published more than 284 articles including 112 in journals, 6 book chapters, and 2 books including an edited two volume compendium on Shock Waves published by Springer. His publications embrace both scientific fundamental research and practical engineering applications. His conference papers are regularly invited to appear in the special issues of prestigious journals. He has had continuous EPSRC funding since 2001. Other sources of funding: Royal Society, EU, Nuffield Foundation, USAF, USNavy, JSPS, and industry. He has raised over £13.5M in external funding including over 65 separate collaborative projects with industrial partners, testament to the industrial applicability of his work. The new methodologies developed are now being adopted by industry and universities based worldwide. Since 1998, Kontis has given 60 invited presentations and keynote lectures to peer-reviewed conferences and international Advanced Schools in the USA, Europe, India, China, and Japan. He owes his formal education to two universities: University of Bristol (BEng), and Cranfield University (MSc and PhD). He can speak Greek and Japanese.
He is contributing to the European (EASN Board of Directors, ACARE WG3), UK (ADS-Scotland Council, ADMS-Industry Leadership Group, NATEP RAP) and US Aerospace Strategy (AIAA Board of Trustees). He is chairing the Supply Chain working group of ADS/Scottish Enterprise. He is a member of 6 Editorial Boards, and Editor-in-Chief of international journals. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE), London, UK. Principal professional qualifications: EurIng, CEng. In 2016, he was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). AIAA Fellows are “persons of distinction in aeronautics or astronautics, who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology thereof.”
As Dean for Global Engagement – East Asia & China at the University of Glasgow, Kontis carries the regional strategy responsibility to shape the future of the University’s international activity and deliver on the internationalisation objectives as well as to facilitate more effective relationships with the four Colleges. He works closely with the Vice-Principals, TNE Deans, College International Leads, Heads of School, services (e.g. External Relations, Recruitment, Alumni, Student and Staff Mobility, Confucius Institute, Academic Collaborations Office, Business Development Managers, etc.), and external stakeholders including regional, national and overseas government bodies and officials, industry, consultancy providers and think tanks. The focus is on global engagement, partnership development, attracting outstanding students, and business, research and industrial links. He acts as a source of expertise in his region’s education sector, and provide advice and guidance to members of staff. He manages relationships at all levels internally and externally - building the reputation of the University across his region.
As Head of the Aerospace Sciences Division at the University of Glasgow, Kontis is responsible for the strategic leadership and operational management of the Division. This involves developing strategic leadership in aerospace research, higher learning and social responsibility, whilst ensuring that operational processes are efficient and effective. He provides overall leadership in Aerospace resulting in a significant step change in the quality of Aerospace Engineering and Science within the University, which is recognised both nationally and internationally. His key strengths involve proving leadership and management to allow collegial working across aerospace discipline to address grand challenges and provide world-class education. His headship enables him to link research and teaching, and to transfer research knowledge generated to both beneficiaries and the public. He is leading and coordinating the University of Glasgow contribution in a number flagship projects and other initiatives. He is representing the University of Glasgow in a number of committees and working groups.
He leads and coordinates the Glasgow 'National Wind Tunnel and Testing Facilities / ESA-ESTEC Facility' with an infrastructure investment alone already >£6.5M. He has been instrumental in securing the participation of Glasgow University in a number of national consortia. In addition, he is working with a number of Prestwick Airport based companies and Scottish universities to realise the vision of an integrated UK satellite design, manufacture, launch and operations solution with funding from the ESA-ESTEC and UK-Space Agency.
He was the Chair of Aerodynamics and Shock Physics, and the Deputy Director of the Aerospace Research Institute (UMARI) at the University of Manchester in 2009-2013. As Deputy Director of UMARI, Kontis was responsible for the operational management of the Institute including budgeting, development of multi-disciplinary research initiatives, and collaborations with industry, academia and other key stakeholders. He has been instrumental in securing the participation of University of Manchester in a number of flagship programmes. He was also Head of the Aerospace Research Group at the University of Manchester.
He has been a visiting professor in a number of organizations including Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan; NASA, USA; China Aerospace Research & Development Centre, PR China; Nagoya University, Japan; Kumamoto University, Japan; and Tohoku University, Japan. He was the Chair of 28th International Symposium on Shock Waves, Manchester, UK, 2011; International Chair of AIAA AVIATION, Dallas, USA, 2015; Chair of 22nd International Symposium on Shock Interactions, Glasgow, UK, 2016; Technical Co-Chair, of the 36th and 37th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conferences, USA, 2018 and 2019. He is a member of organizing committees of a number of conferences worldwide.
His current research covers the following four broad themes:
i) Integrated wing technologies that involve: high Aspect Ratio wings; joined or non-planar wing concepts; load control via e.g. spanwise flow control adjustments; flow and flight control using active multi-functional materials; and integrated system sensors and actuators with distributed control and health monitoring.
ii) Air-transport systems and space access: transition and SBLI; spacecraft plume characterization, contamination and fragmentation studies; plume-regolith interactions; plasma-based flow and flight control systems; and integrated propulsion systems including intakes and ducts; advanced space launchers.
iii) Multi-disciplinary applications: combined PIV and PTSP imaging; laser-based discharges and their interactions with surfaces; directed energy systems; shock wave research; and wind turbine/rotating wing technologies.
iv) Aerospace vehicle design: design optimisation, uncertainty quantification, engineering analysis.
Professor Kontis leads, inspires and educates an international research team of pre- and post-doctoral researchers, engineers and academics. Since 1998, he has supervised 25 Visiting Fellows, 44 PhD students (32 completed, 12 current), 17 postdoctoral researchers (16 completed, 1 current); now pursuing careers in academia and/or industry (11 previous group members are independent academics). Twelve PhD students were awarded the Centennial Scholarship by the Royal Aero. Society, for their ability and determination to make a significant contribution to the 2nd century of powered flight.
He is interested in supervising new PhD projects in the following areas:
- Integrated wing technologies that involve high Aspect Ratio wings and joined or non-planar wing concepts;
- Load control via e.g. spanwise flow control adjustments;
- Flow and flight control using active multi-functional materials;
- Integrated system sensors and actuators with distributed control and health monitoring;
- Air-transports systems and space access;
- Transition and SBLI;
- Spacecraft plume characterization and contamination studies;
- Plasma-based flow and flight control systems;
- Design Optimisation, Uncertainty Quantification;
- Integrated propulsion systems including intakes and ducts;
- Combined PIV and PTSP imaging, using encapsulated sensitive particles;
- Laser-based discharges and their interactions with surfaces;
- Shock wave research;
- Wind turbine technologies and helicopters.
(i) Professor Kontis has designed and supervised the manufacture and commissioning of the subsonic, transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels, and shock tube facilities at the University of Manchester and University of Glasgow. This has involved the application of fundamental principles using complex techniques to overcome unpredictable engineering challenges leading a team-effort of PDRAs, PhD students, Estate & Buildings, Finance, external consultants and contractors.
(ii) He has developed advanced diagnostics for flows involving complex geometries, to provide tools for industry to tackle aerospace design challenges: (a) Pioneering applications of surface thermal imaging using rise-time analysis, enabling the application of phosphor thermometry to rotating components of gas-turbines; (b) Pioneering applications of high-speed stereo-PIV systems to measure instantaneous velocity vectors, and planar acceleration fields for unsteady flows at Mach numbers over 5. This has made it possible to identify lower-order dynamical systems that can be used to design simple and effective feedback control strategies, and to compute conditionally averaged velocity fields; (c) Leading contributions of pressure-sensitive paints to map surface pressures in U-bends and internal flows at low subsonic speeds. He has also demonstrated and assessed the performance of polymer-based and aluminum anodised PTSPs in the industrial scale European Transonic Windtunnel (ETW GmbH, Germany) at Reynolds numbers typical of a full-scale aircraft configuration.
(iii) Pioneering application of the fundamentals of creation, propagation and stability of compressible vortex loops; an extremely important development in the design of non-lethal-weapons; he addressed the effects of local environment on stability and propagation characteristics.
(iv) (a) Pioneering demonstration of the effectiveness of perforated walls in the attenuation of shock waves and vortices emanating from nozzles during the descending or ascending phases of aerospace vehicles; (b) Leading contributions to understanding the fundamentals of the interaction of secondary flow injection with cavity flows at subsonic and supersonic speeds.
(v) (a) Novel multi-encapsulated Dielectric Barrier Discharge plasma actuators using optimization techniques that can produce high subsonic forcing velocities. This has enabled their application to the design of more efficient internal and external geometries, and manifolds improving the performance of jet-engines and commercial vehicles; (b) Fundamental research on transitional Shock Boundary Layer Interactions has provided for the first time complete time-averaged experimental data; (c) Pioneering laser-based energy deposition systems to suppress flow unsteadiness at Mach numbers over 1.5, due to shock-wave boundary layer interactions, and hence improve the structural integrity of aerospace vehicles.
(vi) The Glasgow 'National Wind Tunnel and Testing Facilities / ESA-ESTEC Facility' has generated new opportunities, and a step-change in our capability enabling new problems to be tackled (e.g. innovative helicopter concepts, integration of modelling and flight simulation with wind-tunnel testing, novel flow and load control solutions for vehicle design and offshore applications). It drives innovation across a broad range of sectors including aerospace, process industries and wind energy. It is engaging with numerous organizations from the UK and abroad resulting in the generation of grants, and providing benefit from ready-access to scientific advances emanating. Affiliation with industry has enhanced pull-through to higher TRL. The Facility has already built an intellectual capability by the fostering of young talented researchers, and by attracting established academic groups from other universities. It is dedicated to support industry in developing their businesses, and generating high-value jobs, income and impact for the local and national economy (e.g. employment opportunities, development and training of the workforce, interaction with SMEs, and support for the supply chain).
(vii) With funding from ESA/ESTEC, he led the design, manufacture and commissioning of the Plume-Regolith Testing Facility at the University of Glasgow. This is one the seven official ESA designated strategic facilities (Aero-Thermodynamics Directorate) distributed across Europe and is the only one that enables the realistic simulation of planetary conditions and testing of plume-regolith problems and interactions. The facility is aligned with ESA’s robotic Exploration Programmes requirements for missions including Mars Sample Return. It is contributing to the design of pulsed modulation descent thrusters that enables the reduction of erosion events. It provides experimental validation data to develop improved models and capability in engineering design software and simulation tools to predict the effects of rocket plumes on surfaces during lander approach and touchdown, specifically excavation, lofting and settling of dust clouds.
(viii) He co-authored and contributed to the formulation of the ‘Aerospace Defence, Marine and Security strategy for Scotland 2016’ and the ‘Europe’s vision for aviation: Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), Volume 1’.