Projects Banner Image

Research Associate


Research Associate



A research leadership position is available in partnership between MacTaggart Scott and Heriot-Watt University for a 30 month full-time Research Associate position. Although employed by the university the Research Associate will be based primarily at MacTaggart Scott located at Loanhead, within 6 miles of Edinburgh and 7 miles from Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton; MacTaggart Scott and Heriot-Watt have a long standing alliance. 


The overall objective of the project is to develop an all-composite materials, processing methodology and also integrated sensing technology for components for marine applications. The project will initially involve reviewing and recommending current state-of-the-art polymer composite materials, their structural and tribological performance under extremes of marine conditions as well as rapid processing methodologies. Based on this initial study and performance evaluation of current polymer composite-metal hybrid structures, materials selection will be used to guide choice of polymer composite materials for replacing the metal components. For the materials selected, protocols for evaluation of potential composites will be established and samples manufactured together with integrated and dedicated sensing technologies and then rigorously tested in simulated conditions to mimic the extreme conditions the equipment will face in daily use. These studies will allow either adaption of existing composites or development of new systems capable of withstanding the demanding extreme conditions, such that MacTaggart Scott can demonstrate material and process solutions to TRL 5/6. The implementation of appropriate built-in sensor monitoring will provide suitable diagnostics and prognostics of the real-time performance and potential future failure modes, with measurands established that can be used for future maintenance and potential replacements as necessary. In addition to the research, the Research Associate will also receive training and advanced professional development opportunities. As a Research Associate, the successful candidate will be a Heriot-Watt University employee and therefore receive the support and resources of the university, in addition to benefits provided through the company. 

Duties will include: 

  • Responsibilities will also include assistance in the day-to-day maintenance of the experimental facilities, liaising with companies and external collaborators.
  • General tasks will involve scientific research; analysis and interpretation of data; daily oversight of the activities of postgraduate and undergraduate project students in the laboratory; communication with other investigators involved in this collaborative project; preparation of scientific papers; presentation of research at conferences.
  • The ideal candidate will have a strong theoretical understanding and an experimental background in one or more of the following fields: materials chemistry and properties, polymer composites,
  • Contribute, under supervision, to the planning of research projects, including the development of new grant/contract proposals. Make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding and form relationships for future collaboration.
  • The successful candidate will be required to ingrate into the R and D and Engineering departments at MTS. They will need to lead the implementation of their research and interact effectively with Production Engineering, Manufacturing and Test departments.
  • Build internal contacts and participate in internal networks for the exchange of information and to form relationships for future collaboration. Work with academic and industry colleagues on areas of shared research interest and contribute to collaborative decision making. Join external networks to share information and identify potential sources of funds.
  • Write research reports and publications. Analyse and interpret the results of own research and generate original ideas bases on outcomes. Prepare proposals and applications to external bodies, e.g. for funding purposes. Use initiative and creativity to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • Develop research objectives and proposals for your own or joint research with the assistance of a mentor at both the university and MTS. Conduct individual and collaborative research projects, making use of relevant research techniques and methods. Disseminate results of research in peer reviewed journals and conferences, and/or other appropriate media.  Continue to update personal knowledge and to develop skills within own specialist research area. Maintain written records of research results and progress generated intellectual property and data analysis. Contribute to the production of research reports and publications.
  • Interface effectively between the university and MacTaggart Scott and drive research and production of composite design through to production, translating university based fundamental knowledge right through to manufacturing capability.
  • The position carries considerable responsibility. The Associate will report directly to the senior management team, therefore good presentation and communication skills are also desirable. Some of the projects will involve working with clients and customers of the company in various locations, which will require strong interpersonal skills.
  • Provide guidance as required to support staff, research students and any other students both at Heriot-Watt University and MacTaggart Scott who may be assisting with the research.
  • The successful candidate will be expected to represent the company as necessary to appropriate stakeholders. Occasional travel may be required.
  • We are looking for a creative and highly motivated researcher willing to work as part of a team, as well as provide critical leadership as required for driving the project forwards.
  • Good communication skills and an appropriate publication record are essential. A good working knowledge of word processing (eg MS Word) and presentation (eg MS Powerpoint) software are essential.
  • The successful candidate will be expected to conduct and lead their own experiments whilst also supervising the activities of junior group members and PhD students.
  • The successful candidate is also expected to be involved in our outreach activities, with roles that can be tuned to the specific preferences of the candidate but will involve for example interviews, talks for the general public and preparation of experimental demonstrators.

Essential skills, experience and knowledge requirements:

The successful candidate will

  • Experience in public presentations of scientific results (e.g. conference talks).
  • Must be able to work as part of a team on the experiments at both Heriot-Watt and MTS as well as more widely with the collaborators.
  • Ability to formulate and progress work on their own initiative.
  • Experience of experimental design (DOE) and integration.
  • Experience of manufacturing and testing of polymer composites.
  • A record of high quality publications, and evidence of contribution to the writing of these publications proportionate to opportunity.
  • Experience of working in a Higher Education and/or similar research and development environment.
  • Possess and maintain sufficient breadth or depth of specialist discipline knowledge and or research methods and techniques to work in own area.
  • Applicants should either hold a PhD in a relevant area of chemistry, physics or materials or a related subject (or have submitted their thesis by the start date of the project) or have a Masters degree in one these areas with at least 3 years relevant experience.
  • Appropriate publication record for stage in career.
  • Must have proven academic ability and a demonstrably high level of technical competence in experimental science and the analysis / modelling of the results.
  • Strong theoretical understanding and thorough grounding in experimental techniques relevant to the project.
  • Ability to articulate research work, both in technical reports / papers and by oral presentation.
  • Evidence of research ability, such as problem solving, critical thinking, flexibility, data analysis, exploitation of results, drawing appropriate conclusions.
  • Experience in writing and managing peer-reviewed papers.
  • Evidence of an ability to integrate into an operational, heavy duty engineering business. 

Due to the nature of the work associated with this post, the successful candidate will be subject to background checking for MOD security clearance.  Candidates must have the right to work in the UK. 

If you feel you have the necessary skills and experience and meet the criteria above please apply by sending your CV and a covering letter to