Dr Nicola Symonds

Unit Head


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Find out about our latest capabilities and activities. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn for more updates.

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Ambassadors for STEM

Professor Nicola Symonds and Rachel Triggs were among the STEM professionals at a speed-networking event at King Edward VI school in Southampton, where they chatted with fourth-year physics students about careers in engineering.

Seawork 2023

Dr Jelili Bello, Rachel Triggs, Professor Nicola Symonds and Spencer Court visted the marine tradeshow Seawork 2023, where they spent time meeting with potential new clients and explaining how our knowledge of materials engineering and corrosioncontrol can support product development in the marine industry.

Feedback from the team was that the sun was shining, the conversations were productive and that the ice creams were excellent!

Friction measurement explained

Ever wondered how is friction measured? In this explainer our director, Professor Nicola Symonds, talks through the underpinning physics and the techniques we use, which can be tailored to simulate real-world load and temperature conditions.

Understanding and quantifying friction can be essential if you’re designing a new product or trying to solve an engineering problem – whether you’re looking for low friction to reduce energy loss, or high friction to create additional grip or torque. Find out more about our friction measurement services.

Spotlight on… abrasion testing

With our Taber Abrader we can test the abrasion resistance of a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, coatings and textiles, to standards including ASTM D4060-10 and BS EN ISO 5470-1:2016.

With advanced post-testing analysis techniques to characterise the effect of the abrasion, such as optical surface profilometry, we can help you find the best solution. Learn more about our abrasion testing services.

Science and Engineering Day 2023

We had great fun at last weekend’s Science and Engineering Day, with lots of happy kids learning about friction and materials selection through hands-on play. We set up a race between two equally weighted lego figures and sledges, one on machined steel and the other on polypropylene. Who was the winner? Watch to find out…

Thanks to everyone who came along and got involved – see you next year!

Inspiring girls to go into STEM

We’re keen to help close the gender gap in our sector, and Professor Nicola Symonds and Rachel Triggs are ideally placed to act as role models for the next generation of women in STEM. They recently took part in a careers fair at St Anne’s, a secondary school for girls in Southampton, to talk about the exciting paths science and engineering can open up and to share their own career journeys.

International Women’s Day

A shout out on International Women’s Day to all the talented, inspiring women who are doing brilliant work in engineering – including our own Nicola, Ilaria, Sam and Rachel! Unfortunately it’s still the case that women are under-represented in this sector, so we’re proud that the nC2 team bucks the trend. We’ll continue with our outreach work, with the aim of showing girls and young women that science and engineering can be ‘for them’.

Find out more about the expertise and career paths of Nicola, Ilaria, Sam, and Rachel.

Battle of the bars!

We put two chocolate bars to the test in a Battle of the Bars… and the results are in! After rigorous 3-point bending tests, the winner is (drumroll….) the KitKat! Our mechanical testing consultant Dr Ben Cunningham found that the Crunchie has an Ultimate Flexural Strength of 180 kPa, the Wispa has 830 kPa, but the KitKat was the clear winner at 1,680 kPa. See the video for footage and graphs. 

Learn more about our mechanical testing capabilities.

New cyclic corrosion test chamber

We recently took delivery of a new cyclic corrosion test chamber from Ascott and it is now up and running. It’s capable of running salt spray cycles in combination with controlled humidity, drying and wetting. We can include outdoor exposure testing to complement your testing requirements as well as a full post-test analysis of your samples.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive corrosion testing service for your product, find out more and get in touch for a free consultation.

Visit to Knightwood Primary School

A really enjoyable visit to Knightwood Primary School where our Director, Professor Nicola Symonds, gave Year 5 pupils a hands-on introduction to key ideas in materials science and structures, with the help of various props including a large foam noodle, paper clips and mugs.

She also answered lots of questions about her failure investigation work, including “What is the biggest thing you’ve ever investigated?” – the answer being a cruise ship!

We were delighted to hear the teacher’s feedback: “It was a memorable learning experience for them which is always what we are looking to achieve!” Hopefully we’ve inspired some future materials scientists…

How much force does it take to pull a Christmas cracker?

Important work in our lab to answer a critical festive question – how much force does it take to pull a Christmas cracker? According to Dr Benjamin Cunningham‘s test, 135 N – equivalent to nearly 14 kg – to break the cracker, and 60 mm extension to make it go bang!