The Silver Medal is a national award in recognition of an exceptionally meritorious contribution to the science and technology of tribology.
Professor Rob Dwyer-Joyce was awarded a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College in 1987. During his degree he was sponsored by the National Nuclear Corporation and worked on the design and construction of the AGR reactor at Heysham. From 1987 to 1989 he worked for British Gas Petroleum Production on the Rough Gas field as a maintenance engineer. He returned to Imperial College for a PhD in the Tribology Section on debris effects in rolling bearings sponsored by SKF. He was awarded his PhD in 1993 winning the College’s Armstrong and Unwin Medals for achievement.
Rob joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Sheffield as a lecturer in 1994 where he re-established a research group in tribology. For many years Rob taught fluid mechanics to second year engineering students and introduced a course on tribology of machine elements as a final year option. He was promoted to personal chair in 2007 and held the post of Head of Department from 2008 to 2014.
He is now Director of the Leonardo Centre for Tribology at the University of Sheffield with five academic staff and 50 PhD students and 11 research assistants. In 2014 the team at Sheffield, jointly with the Institute for Functional Surfaces at Leeds were awarded an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Tribology, for which Rob is Director. The CDT recruits 12 tribology PhD students per year with a mixture of industry, university, and government funding. Rob has personally supervised 51 PhD students to graduation. Jointly the Sheffield and Leeds groups run an EPSRC Programme Grant entitled Friction: The Tribology Enigmas for which he is PI.
From 2009 to 2019 Rob was Editor in Chief of the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J Journal of Tribology; where he managed rapid growth in submissions, the introduction of new online interfaces, and oversaw the transition from Professional Engineering Publications Ltd to Sage Publishing. In addition, Rob has served on the editorial boards of ASME Journal of Tribology, Lubrication Science, Bio-tribology, and Friction.
In his research, Rob has pioneered the use of ultrasound for the measurement of tribological machine elements. Ultrasound waves are used to interrogate interfaces and lubricants and their reflection can be used to deduce oil film thickness, asperity contact, and the interfacial properties of liquids. These methods have been developed extensively in the lab and applied to machine elements in the field. Some notable examples have been; wind turbine bearings in the Barnesmore field, piston rings in large size marine diesel engines for WinGD, automotive engine bearings, and metal strip rolling for ArcelorMittal. In addition, Rob has worked on tribology aspects of aircraft landing gear joints, wheel-rail contamination and wear, abrasive cleaning of teeth, erosion in rice processing, engine valve recession, debris and rolling contact fatigue, and Li-Ion battery mechanics.
He has published over 160 papers in international journals and holds 6 patents. The work has won 8 international journal paper prizes, and in 2014 he was awarded the Donald Julius Groen Prize for Tribology. He is currently an EPSRC Advanced Career Fellow leading a team working on the development of Tribo-Acoustic Sensors. He was elected Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2007 and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2018.
He is therefore a worthy winner of the 2021 Tribology Silver Medal.