Hugo Williams


Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Deputy Head of School, Engineering


School of Engineering,
University of Leicester,
University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH,
United Kingdom.

Office: Michael Atiyah 212

Tel: +44(0) 116 223 1052


View Hugo Williams's profile on LinkedIn

View my Google scholar profile here for current publications list


  • Research Interests - Multifunctional Materials and Systems
    • Radioisotope power systems for future spacecraft
    • Thermoelectric materials and devices
    • High-performance polymer composite materials and sandwich structures.
    • Systems Engineering, especially safety and risk in aerospace and nuclear systems.
    • Multifunctional structures e.g. self-healing and active thermal control.
  • Teaching. Please note that teaching duties are subject to change
    • EG2421 Aircraft Performance and Navigation
    • EG2422 Aerodynamics and Aircraft Systems
    • EG3421 Flight dynamics, Control and Avionics
    • EG4412/EG7412 Systems Engineering and Spacecraft Systems


Professional background

Hugo studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol. He remained at Bristol to undertake a PhD in self-healing composite structures. Hugo's PhD demonstrated, for the first time, a sandwich structure designed and built with an effective self-healing system embedded. He also derived a biomimetic relationship for the optimum pipe diameter in engineering fluid distribution systems based on biological principle called Murray's Law.

On completion of his PhD, Hugo joined the Civil Nuclear Advanced Concept Team of a global power systems and service company. He was responsible for the initial technical and project management work required to mature ideas for new components or systems through the first stages of their 'lifecycle', in the process developing a broad understanding of nuclear reactor technology, safety systems, design and safety requirements. He also had a leading role in graduate engineer recruitment and training and uses this experience to enhance his teaching and student support.

In 2010, Hugo saw a rare opportunity to fuse his experience with aerospace and nuclear technologies and moved to the University of Leicester to join a team led by Prof Richard Ambrosi initiating development of radioisotope power and thermal control systems for space applications.

Radioisotope power is a key 'enabling technology' for several future space missions. Hugo has played a leading role in the delivery of a number of successful research programmes including:

  • the first laboratory demonstration of representative radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) technnology outside the USA or Russia. BBC online Sept 2012.
  • development of a novel ceramic-metal composite fuel form for radioisotope space applications
  • fundamental performance assessment of novel mars exploration vehicle concept enabled by radioisotope power systems (Mars Hopper). BBC online Nov. 2010, Royal Society Video podcast, BBC online Sept. 2013.
  • PI of the European Space Agency funded Radioisotope Heater Unit Prototype Development 2015-2017.

Hugo has also provided specialist polymer composite design and manufacturing support to the CFRP primary structural components of the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument. Development of this instrument has been led by the University of Leicester in launched in October 2018 on ESA's BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

From 2015-2020 Hugo was Director of Learning & Teaching for the School of Engineering, with overall responsibility for our taught degree programmes

Since 2018 Hugo has served as Deputy Dean of Education for the College of Science and Engineering, supporting all Schools across the college with student experience and academic quality assurance.


Memberships & professional activity

Hugo is a Chartered Engineer, Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He is an active Professional Review Interviewer for the IMechE, chairing interviews for candidates applying for professional registration as IEng or CEng and using this experience to support CPD of others and to improve degree programmes in the School of Engineering.

He has undertaken peer-reviews for leading international journals across a range of technical disciplines including: Journal of the Royal Society InterfaceJournal of Intelligent Materials, Systems and StructuresComposites A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, Composites Science and Technology, Measurement, Advances in Space Research, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Annals of Nuclear Energy and Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

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