News archive

Hayley Melville: first recipient of the Princess Royal Tenovus Scotland Medical Research Scholarship

Miss Hayley Melville, PhD student at the Research Institute of Signals, Sensors and Systems (ISSS) in the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS), has become the first recipient of the prestigious Princess Royal Tenovus Scotland Medical Research Scholarship.

The £93K studentship aims to research novel sensors for the minimally monitoring of foetal lactate during baby delivery. Abnormal levels of lactate may indicate hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) which can lead to brain damage. Current techniques are time-consuming, invasive and expensive.

Miss Melville is supervised by Prof. Marc Desmulliez from ISSS, Dr. Michael Crichton from IMPEE at EPS and Prof. Fiona Denison, Director of Tommy’s Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh and Honorary Consultant Obstetrician at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Tenovus Scotland ( is one of the leading medical research charities providing funding for early stage medical research in Scotland.

Microwaves student wins prestigious MTT-S Scholarship!

Spyridon Nektarios Daskalakis is one of the recipients of MTT-S graduate fellowships for 2019 from IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S). Up to twelve $6000 awards are granted each year by the MTT-S globally. The purpose is to recognize and provide financial assistance to graduate students who show promise and interest in pursuing a graduate degree in microwave engineering.

The fellowship is determined and budgeted by MTT-S Administrative Committee yearly. The awards were presented at the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) 2019 in Boston.

Caltech Space Challenge

Andrea, REVOLVE PhD Fellow participated in Caltech Space Challenge week. The workshop brought 32 undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world to gather at Caltech and their task was to design a pre-phase A mission to Enceladus in 5 days. The participants came from different scientific backgrounds, representing engineering, science, business, graphical design, and many others. They were divided in two different groups and they were able to benefit from working under the mentorship of experienced engineers and managers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Caltech (Keck Institute for Space Studies and Galcit) and private industry (Lockheed Martin, The Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman).

Andrea worked in his team as the System Engineer (telecom, thermal and power subsystem dimensioning), and collaborated on the scientific instrumentation study as well as for the mission analysis concept and architecture. The opportunity to work with the other 15 people in his team, each from a different background gave him the opportunity to learn other scientific fields, and provided him with an opportunity to refine the rough work done in 5 days in order to have a more rigorous proposal and the opportunity of a conference paper (to be detailed soon). It is uncommon to have 16 people selected among several applicants working together on a mission concept!

The Workshop gave the team the opportunity to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under the guide of A-team and X-team experts for half a day. The rest of the day was dedicated to classes under the mentorship of JPL engineers. During the week they enjoyed several lectures (soon to be online) on space exploration, science objectives and instrumentation. We had an afternoon of mentorship from the former JPL director Charles Elachi. He was also available to answer any technical and non-technical questions about their proposal.

REVOLVE Workshop

Each year, the REVOLVE fellows meet for a training week. This year, the event took place in Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh where our REVOLVE Fellows had the chance to meet experts from the telecommunication industry (Eutelsat, Thales, LSS, Sofant) and academia (Heriot-Watt, IETR, ESA). Topics discussed included antenna systems for satellite or user terminals. The Fellows enjoyed presentations from experts who gave them advice to patent their designs. Moreover it was the occasion to have a review of their activities and plan for the future (publications, conference, demonstrators...).

The REVOLVE Fellows also visited the birth place of James Maxwell, the genius behind the equations that rule Electromagnetics. It was interesting to see that he had great achievements not only in electromagnetism but also in mechanics, astrophysics, thermodynamics and poetry! The James Clerk Maxwell Foundation welcomes visitors and you can visit his elegnat Georgian house which displays a growing cllection of heritage material associated with James Clerk Maxwell, his family and associates. To find our more visit the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation website. 

EPSRC-funded SONOPILL Programme wins National Instruments Engineering Impact Award 

A team led by Prof. Sandy Cochran from the University of Glasgow and Prof. Marc Desmulliez from Heriot-Watt University won the 2018 EMEIA Engineering Impact Awards in the Innovative Research category.

The EMEIA awards, sponsored by the multi-national company, National Instruments, celebrate the most innovative projects across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. Each year, over 200 engineers, scientists, researchers and educators from around the globe submit their most impactful and technically challenging systems created by National Instruments software and hardware. 

This year, the Sonopill Programme, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and including the Universities of Dundee and Leeds as well as Heriot-Watt and Glasgow, won this award for their research in creating multi-modal digestible endoscopic capsules for the diagnosis of pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract.

Entrants from Sonopill were Dr. Gerard Cummins, Dr. Holly Lay, David Lines, Prof. Desmulliez and Cochran.

The winners of the award are automatic entrants in the global competition at NI week in Austin, Texas. Overall winners will be announced in March 2019.

More information can be obtained using the link:

An industrial output delivered within a month by Gergely Hantos

3rd year CDT-EI PhD HWU-student Gergely Hantos, who is supervised by Prof. Marc Desmulliez, took part in the 6-months Cambridge Spark Applied Data Science Bootcamp. The course gave an excellent knowledge of the most relevant Data Science skills matching industry needs.

Each student had to carry out a one-month real-life project backed by industry partners that covered problem understanding, data cleaning and feature engineering, visualisation, model selection, training, evaluation and optimisation.

Gergely worked on a project for Entomics, a biological waste valorisation company that transforms organic waste into high value agricultural products using insect larvae as a unique bioconversion engine. The objective was to create a predictive machine learning model that optimizes the bioconversion by predicting the daily waste intake of the larvae.

Gergely delivered a solution that worked with so little prediction error that Entomics was able to use the output immediately. The outcome of this project has opened up a specialised software engineer position at Entomics.

A conference paper based on the work achieved was delivered for the First Symposium on Smart Systems Integration (SS1S) by Gergely on the 31st of August 2018 in Balatonvilágos, Hungary and is currently under review for publication in Periodica Polytechnica Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Cambridge Spark, the company delivering the course was also impressed by the work, thus they wrote a blog article about the project available here: Project Partner Case Study: Entomics that includes a video interview with Fotis Fotiadis, Co-Founder and CTO of Entomics.

Talk by Distinguished University Prof. Anthony Ephremides

Prof. Anthony Ephremides, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Maryland in College Park ,will be visiting the Institute of Sensors, Signals & Systems on 15th February 2019. Prof. Ephremedis will be hosting a talk entitled, 'ON AGE'.

Anthony Ephremides holds the Cynthia Kim Professorship of Information Technology at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Maryland in College Park where he is a Distinguished University Professor and has a joint appointment at the Institute for Systems Research, of which he was among the founding members in 1986.

To read the abstract and full biography for Prof. Ephremedis please see the EPS seminar page.

Microwaves Research Group and Explorathon 2018

REVOLVE participated in Edinburgh's Explorathon 2018 in collaboration with Leith Labs! The venue this year was the popular Shopping Centre located in Ocean Terminal. One of the activities carried out at the event showed how researchers at the Microwave and Antenna Engineering Group at Heriot-Watt University are working to use traditional electromagnetic concepts to wirelessly transmit power that can recharge electronic devices. This will enable us to charge our devices on the move, become more environmentally friendly reducing the number of batteries in the waste strem, stored power and re-use it. Other activities presented introduced the concept of sound and light waves, which raised a great interest among the kids and, of course, the big ones!

MicroSense Technologies Ltd finalist of IET Innovation Awards

MicroSense Technologies Ltd (MTL), a spin-out company from Heriot-Watt University, has been chosen by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) as a finalist for their 2018 Innovation Awards. The IET’s prestigious Innovation Awards ceremony will take place on the 14th of November at the Brewery in Central London.

The IET’s distinctive annual Innovation Awards celebrate disruptive innovation, showcasing entries from around the world. Chosen from over 350 entries worldwide from every corner of the industry, MTL was shortlisted for the Technology Transfer Award in recognition of the novelty and versatility of the sensor system proposed which provides breakthrough performance for clients.

The Company, founded by Marc Desmulliez, David Flynn and Sumanth Pavuluri from the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS), created a novel patented microwave sensor system that can be deployed for a variety of applications demanding agile sensing for resilient, sustainable and efficient systems. MTL shared in 2016 the first prize of the Converge Challenge.

The founders of the Company said:

“We are grateful for the help received by Heriot-Watt University in helping us creating MTL and defending its patent portfolio. We are equally delighted by the honour that IET is conferring on us.  Our technology enables our clients to unlock the value within their businesses and supporting them towards a more sustainable, circular economy by reducing waste, risk, increasing production efficiency and extending the life of their critical assets.”

MTL has its technology installed in the premises of two UK food & drink companies in order to reduce their food production waste. MTL is also pursuing strong industrial interests in the use of their product for the detection of corrosion under insulation.

More information regarding the Awards shortlist can be found on the IET Awards page.

Microwaves student receives first place in the student paper competition at International Symposium

PhD candidate Mr. Cristian Alistarh, jointly supervised by Dr. Symon Podilchak, Prof George Goussetis and Prof. John Thompson (The University of Edinburgh), reached the first place in the student paper competition at the International Symposium on Antenna Technology and Applied Electromagnetics (ANTEM) 2018 for his paper "Spectral Smoothing by Multiple Radar Pattern Multiplication for Improved Accuracy." This work was carried out in collaboration with Samsung Electronics.Congratulations to Cristian! The first place prize was well deserved! 

Heriot-Watt recognised with top marketing award

Heriot-Watt has been recognised with one of the country’s top marketing honours for its Year of Robotics campaign. The University was one of only six institutions shortlisted in the prestigious 2018 Heist Awards held in Manchester on Thursday, July 13. We won a ‘Gold’ award in the category for Best Marketing Initiative to Promote Research Excellence for its Year of Robotics, beating off stiff competition from leading universities including Imperial College London, Manchester and Glasgow.

The Year of Robotics campaign was held throughout 2017 with a packed calendar of events spanning schools, the public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers. More than 1,800 school children and 13,000 members of the public became engaged in this effort. Accepting the accolade on behalf of Heriot-Watt and the team, Martyn Spence, Director of Marketing and Communications, said: “It is a tremendous honour to be once again recognised with a Heist Award for a campaign that really captured the imagination and delivered on all levels.

“It was always our intention to reach out to a wide audience across various countries and, I’m proud to say, we worked together to achieve this goal whilst successfully promoting the University’s world-class reputation for Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Human-Robot Interaction. This award is testament to the dedication and team work of a university-wide group of academics and professional staff who demonstrated a real passion for their research and a willingness to work together to reach audiences as diverse as school children and senior government ministers.”

Martyn Spence, Director of Marketing and Communications at Heriot-Watt University

The Year of Robotics was carried out in partnership with academics and staff from across the University as well as a project group led by the Heriot-Watt Engage team.

Commenting on Heriot-Watt’s latest achievement, the judging panel said: “Heriot-Watt University have triumphed with this shining example of world-class UK research. This initiative is a masterclass in showcasing research and making it relevant to a number of audiences and was an out and out winner with the judges.”

For almost three decades, the ‘Heist Awards’ has been synonymous with excellence and innovation in education marketing.

Beyond Bitcoin: how blockchains can empower communities to control their own energy supply  

Dr. David Flynn, Dr. Valentin Robu and Dr. Merlinda Andoni have had an article published in The Conversation. Our academic staff have been studying the UK’s energy future and are increasingly interested in the potential of these community energy models, such as the Findhorn ecovillage in northeast Scotland, with its energy efficient homes, solar panel arrays and community-owned wind turbines.

Such projects usually work by enabling exchanges of energy between producers and consumers inside a microgrid which serves the community, providing local energy resilience to future supply shocks. One house can buy excess renewable generation from a neighbour’s solar panels, or from a community wind turbine.

To read more please refer to the full article in The Conversation!

REVOLVE to participate in ESOF 2018

The REVOLVE team will be taking part in the 8th edition of the ESOF 2018 which takes place in Toulouse from 9th to 14th July 2018.  Our REVOLVE fellows are busy selecting scientific experiments to showcase at Toulouse.

ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) is the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe. It is dedicated to scientific research and innovation and offers a unique framework for interaction and debate for scientists, innovators, policy makers, business people and the general public – ESOF 2018

Space for Kids will post further details when they become available and don’t forget to keep a look out for more details on how to enter our 1st Annual School Competition!

ISSS Academic named as 2017 Highly Cited Researcher!

Professor Cheng-Xiang Wang has been named as one of the 2017 Highly Cited Researchers! From this list there two academics at HWU this year (another being Prof. Vicki Stone in Pharmacology & Toxicology). More details will follow!

HyFES and its innovative approach

The HyFES (Hybrid Fusion Energy System) is a business led, collaborative project to further improve the benefits (lower fuel costs, reduced emissions) marine vessels gain from switching to a hybrid propulsion systems. HyFES is following an innovative approach of combining multiple battery technologies and sub systems within a vessel which allows existing products to be retrofitted as low carbon hybrid vessels. The consortium will work within this research project to develop the technological foundation which uses data based prognostic algorithms to ensure optimal operation of the system assets. It will also work on the initial system integration and test. A further focus will be to ensure vessels make operational decisions based on through life costs of assets rather than focusing solely on fuel saving. The HyFES architecture is scalable and adaptable to various sectors and represents the next generation of performance and asset management. The project brings together a consortium that spans the complete supply chain including Heriot-Watt and University of Southampton, the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), Custom and Contract Power Solutions (CCPS), Denchi Power (lead partner), Ferguson Marine and MBNA Thames Clippers.

Project started at the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and Loughborough University gains new heights

Project started at the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and Loughborough University gains new heights

A project started originally by the University of Edinburgh (Dr Fiona Denison), Heriot-Watt University (Prof. Marc Desmulliez, former HWU CDT-EI Director) and Loughborough University (Dr Carmen Torres, CDT-EI Executive Director) has received the Kickstart Digital Entrepreneur Award at the last Converge Challenge 2017 dinner, the most prestigious Entrepreneurship award ceremony in Scotland.

The KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award recognises internet entrepreneurialism and online marketing skills and was awarded to Fiona Denison from University of Edinburgh for her concept, Birth Mirror. The winner and leader of the project, Dr. Fiona Denison, was chosen in an online vote that was open to the public in the weeks leading up to the awards. Over 1,000 votes were received for the Birth mirror, receiving more than twice as many votes than the second Company.

A mirror, designed and manufactured by engineers from the Universities of Loughborough and Heriot-Watt, is easily adjustable, submersible and illuminated to assist midwives and all new mums to view the birthing process during waterbirths and homebirths. Over 150,000 waterbirths per year worldwide could benefit from the mirror and help annual NHS costs savings over £5M in the UK by reducing the number of sick days due to back strain injuries in midwives. Improving visualisation of the birth process could also make births safer.

The Birth Mirror project has also been shortlisted for the semi-final of the Scottish EDGE, a competition aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland’s up-and-coming, innovative, high growth entrepreneurial talent. Fiona aims to win the £150,000 Higgs prize to develop the mirror further.

Invited talk at BioMIM Expo

Prof. Marc Desmulliez, HWU ex-CDT-EI Director and supervisor of several CDT-EI students, gave an invited talk at the latest BioMIM Expo at Senlis in July 2017.

It was the first time in his 25 years as an academic that Marc presented a technical talk in French, his mother tongue.

The Conference, one of the few in the world devoted exclusively to biomimetics and nature-inspired engineering, was attended by over 1,000 people and combined scientific talk, exhibitions as well as presentations for the general public.

"It was quite a daunting experience for me, said Marc, as I had to look for French technical words in my dictionary. I never used French in the past to present my work. The format of the Conference was quite new but worked perfectly as there is an inherent affinity of the public for all things related to Nature."

The talk was devoted to the latest advances made by his research group towards the 3D printing of multi-materials using green chemistry. The £1M EPSRC research is funded under the "Manufacturing with Light" programme, and is in collaboration with Dr Robert Kay’s research group, formally from Loughborough University, now at Leeds University.

The talk can be downloaded in YouTube alongside all presentations made in 2017 and 2016.

ISSS has made the Top Ten list in the PCB Magazine!

Professor Marc Desmulliez, Dr David Flynn and Dr Tom Jones have made the Top Ten list in The PCB Magazine with their article Megasonic Acoustic Surface Treatment Process for Enhanced Copper Electrodeposition in Via Interconnects,"

A printed circuit board is populated with a multitude of electro-mechanical components plus various active and passive devices such as transistors, capacitors, inductors and resistors, which enable the functionality and assembly of the PCB. Increasing the density of the components on the surface of a board enables greater functionality and use. A high-density (HD) design is desirable for technology high end applications, which include automotive, aerospace, space, defense, mobile phones, medical, networking, communications, and computer storage[1]. The current trend in PCB markets is lowtechnology, high-volume demand and is typically supplied by low-cost, large-scale facilities in Southeast Asia, such as China, India and Thailand. High-value, low-volume PCB markets are typically supplied by smaller-sized facilities in western regions such as North America and Europe, but also economically developed eastern locations such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan[2]. The UK PCB demand typically focuses on this latter market. Manufacturing developments bringing increased capability and cost savings to a factory in the UK would be highly desirable and enable increased market competitiveness. For more than four years, Merlin Circuit Technology Ltd (MCT), in Deeside, North Wales, has been working in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University (HWU) in Edinburgh, Scotland, on a UK government project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), looking to improve HD PCB manufacturing capability through enhancements to the electrodeposition of copper using high frequency acoustic, applied within a copper plating bath [3,4,5]. This article outlines some of the key findings from this project.

To read the full version of this article which appeared in the June 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine.

Grasping the opportunities of robotics and AI

A seminar at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Campus argues that the revolution in robotics and autonomous systems offers massive potential, maximising these benefits will require a new cultural mindset.

Organiser Dr David Flynn believes that, despite negative reporting on the potential negative effects on jobs and incomes, if robotics and AI do actually become a threat to society, then that would be a threat of society’s own choosing,

The market impact from robotics and autonomous systems is estimated to be £1.6-£6.4 trillion per annum by 2025, but a recent report from the Sutton Trust underlined a widespread fear that this could lead to a two-tier society, with ‘An elite high skilled group dominating the higher echelon of society and a lower-skilled, low-income group with limited prospects of upward mobility and an irremediably broken social ladder’.

This, says Dr David Flynn, is a worst-case scenario which could be avoided if government, business and Academia face up to their responsibility to prepare our current and future workforce for the imminent and dramatic changes to come.

"Technical innovation has always had an impact on the status quo, and that stirs up fears of what that change might bring. Currently the fear is that the owners of the means of production will become rich, while the rest of the world will see their jobs and livelihoods taken over by robots.

"I strongly believe that, contrary to this apocalyptic scenario, the future is all about people: after all the value of such technologies is in the knowledge we embed within them and how we interact with them, not the machines themselves. But for that to work we need a more agile, future-ready workforce, ready to embrace a data driven world in partnership with robotics and autonomous systems.

"Heriot-Watt University is ready to play its part in revolutionising industry and education. We are reaching out to government and industry to engage in a People First ethos where our Centre of Embedded Innovation concept is reaching out to all of our communities."

Embedded Intelligence CDT & the Digital Economy’s Summer School

The Digital Economy Network’s (DEN) 2017 Summer School was hosted by the Embedded Intelligence Centre of Doctoral Training (CDT) at Loughborough University’s London Campus.

The theme for this year’s Summer School was "Innovation insights for the digital workforce of tomorrow" and held over three days (4th-6th July) it focused on three stages: 1) Learn with seminars, 2) Do with workshops and 3) Practise with practicals. A breakdown and more details about the Summer School can be viewed here.

Around 75 students from a wide range of the DEN CDTs attended including: Embedded Intelligence, My Life in Data (Horizon), Cloud Computing, Digital Civics, Intelligent Games & Game Intelligence, Media and Arts Technology, Web Science and HighWire. There was also representation from Cyber Security at Royal Holloway. It was great to see everyone instantly getting along and really immersing themselves in their sessions.

There was such a variety of activity for the attendees – ranging from panels, speed networking, playing with Lego (we promise there were learning outcomes from this), producing films, pimping out social media presence, practising elevator pitches and creating posters. Everyone definitely left the Summer School with new knowledge and skills.

You can view the tweets from the Summer School using #SSEI17. Our friends at Tableu (who ran a workshop on "The beautiful science of data visualisation") have prepared a data analysis on the event’s hashtag, which can be viewed here.

The DEN would like to thank: EPSRC, Professor Paul Conway, Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez, the CDT-EI Manager Donna Palmer, DEN Manager Felicia Black, event support and organisers Siobhan Horan and Finn, the speakers, panellists, attendees, and Loughborough London (for letting us takeover their space plus all their lovely staff) for making it such a memorable and fun Summer School!

Microwaves student receives Young Scientist Award

An Efficient Rectifier for an RDA Wireless Power Transmission System Operating at 2.4 GHz" which deals with the design and measurement of a full-bridge rectifier and a receiving antenna array operating at 2.4 GHz for wireless power transmission system applications, with motivations to wirelessly charge an electronic device in the radiating near-field has been accepted for the international conference URSI GASS. This conference will take place in Montreal, Canada, August 19-26, 2017. The Authors, Samuel A. Rotenberg; Pascual D. Hilario Re (PhD student); Dr. Symon K. Podilchak; and, Prof. George Goussetis. Samuel, who will present the article for an oral presentation on Friday, August 25, 2017, will receive the young scientist Award.

Heriot-Watt students are successful at NXP Cup Competition

MEng students Chandan Siyag and Gershom Agim placed third in the UK heat of a worldwide competition organised by semiconductor manufacturer NXP. In so doing, they have qualified for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) final to be held in Munich in late April.

Two teams of Heriot-Watt fourth year students, who had been undertaking group project work to develop autonomous robotic model cars capable of finding their way around a track as quickly as possible using linescan cameras as sensors, travelled to Leeds University to pit their creations against those of students from other (mostly) UK universities.

In a time-trial competition, Chandan’s and Gershom’s car was one of only two to complete the circuit successfully at the first attempt but (second and third attempts were allowed if necessary) were very narrowly pipped for second place by students from Southampton University. The eventual winners came from the Netherlands.

These three qualifying teams will now go forward to meet teams from heats held in Germany, France, Romania, the Czech Republic and Morocco.

MEng Students Yola Jones and Kieran MacColl put in a very creditable performance too but only three teams go through from each heat.

This was a sterling effort, based on a lot of hard work, demonstrating that Heriot-Watt's EE students compare favourably with those from other UK universities.

Electrical Engineering students visit Leonardo's

Undergraduates in Electrical Engineering visited Leonardo’s facilities at Crewe Toll in Edinburgh on both 8th and 22nd March 2017 , for a private session which aimed to align their employability skills with the company’s recruitment campaign. As well as learning first-hand information about summer/MEng placements, industrial internships and graduate programmes, students in Electrical Engineering enjoyed a private tour around this modern engineering company, learning where and how Leonardo designs, manufactures and tests their radar and laser products.

The event took place in parallel to the learning and teaching strategies developed by the RF- and Microwave Engineering group, which aims to involve industry in designing the current curriculum and projects. It also took place in parallel to the learning and teaching strategies developed by the RF- and Microwave Engineering group, which aims to involve industry in designing the current curriculum and projects. Neil Raphael, lead Engineer at Leonardo, hopes to make it an annual event in an effort to accelerate their graduate recruitment process through a plan of action and re-setablishing the collaboration between Leonardo and Heriot-Watt University.

Equate Scotland at Heriot-Watt University

Equate Scotland, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology has been in Heriot-Watt presenting a series of thought-provoking activities and discussions, exploring lawful ways of increasing women’s participation and progression in STEM. The workshop highlighted unconscious bias in a STEM context and the actions required to encourage talented women to join and stay in STEM. Women and girls have the skills and aptitudes needed to thrive in science, technology and engineering, yet remain grossly underrepresented. STEM academia needs these skills, along with the new ideas and problem solving that flourish in diverse workforces. Dr Carolina Mateo-Segura, who participated in this programme, said "You cannot be what you cannot see; girls need to see the roles of women in engineering careers, the picture that we are projecting does not justify the range of disciplines that engineering embrace. We need to get out there and inspire girls by communicating our own vision with the hope to make a better informed decision and bring diversity to this field."

Concurrent Engineering Workshop – ESA 14th-17th of March 2017

Europe’s leadership in space technology depends upon its ability to continue developing world-class satellites. To do that, the ESA needs to share knowledge with emerging engineers and scientists. As a consequence the ESA is organising a concurrent engineering workshop on satellite design. Darius has been selected as one of the 44 engineers to attend the workshop at the ESA Academy Training and Learning Centre in Redu, Belgium.

The goal of the workshop is to create a subsystem concept in order to later achieve an already identified mission concept using concurrent engineering strategies.

Concurrent engineering is a modern approach to design, where different design stages run simultaneously decreasing product development time and time to market, reducing costs as well as improving productivity. The method heavily relies on communicating interdependencies between subsystems, hence solutions in one area can impact the design in another.

Darius is currently a PhD student at Heriot Watt University, Smart System Group working on the topic of Prognostics and Health Management of Critical Assets. His vision is to identify interdependencies between subsystems through the fusion of data models and physics based models, hence the interest in concurrent engineering design. By understanding the design process, better prognostics capabilities can be incorporated within the system in order to predict the reaming useful life. His current research is applied to Oil and Gas drilling equipment, but similarities of the two industries such as operation in harsh and inaccessible environments on tight budgets as well as expected level of functionality for extended periods of time implies that both industries can potentially benefit from enhanced prognostics capabilities.

Darius’ research impact is beyond the Oil and Gas industry and in terms of satellite space technology he envisages the next generation of satellites operating and maintain maximum autonomy with auto-maintenance functions driven by prognostics, functions that can only be developed through better understanding of the system design. During the workshop Darius will be part of the configuration team, responsible for creating and maintaining a CAD model representing the mechanical configuration of the spacecraft. This task includes system-level interface control, verification that all equipment is mechanically fit for purpose, and supplying images of the spacecraft to other teams.

For more details please follow:

Converge Challenge 2017 launches

The search begins to discover inspiring entrepreneurs from Heriot-Watt University.

The quest to find the next generation of entrepreneurs from Scotland’s thriving academic entrepreneur community is underway once again. Converge Challenge today launched the 2017 programme challenging every Scottish university to uncover the next big idea.

Between 2011-2015, the initiative has trained 240 emerging entrepreneurs that have formed 62 Converge companies and secured over £39 million of follow-on funding. Converge Challenge cements its position as the leading opportunity for Scotland’s university based entrepreneurs as 4 out of 5 Converge companies have secured follow-on funding and 80% are still trading after three years. Businesses established through Converge Challenge have, to date, created 175 new jobs.

In 2016, Heriot-Watt's Professor Marc Desmulliez was announced as joint winner of the main Converge Challenge prize with MicroSense Technologies Ltd, a sensor system aimed at reducing waste and improving process monitoring in food processing lines for the Food and Drinks industries. The prize included £30,000 in cash and £19,000 in-kind business support.

The Converge Challenge allowed MicroSense Technologies Ltd to benefit from a vast range of experts in entrepreneurship and commercialisation. The advice and training we received was of the highest quality."

Prof Marc Desmulliez

In 2017, the total prize fund is valued at over £150,000. In addition to a cash prize, winning projects receive a comprehensive business support package from selected partner organisations including: - automatic eligibility to pitch to investors at EIE 2018. - Royal Bank of Scotland remains a key partner for a second year and will provide winners with a money can’t buy package that includes their Innovation Gateway programme, access to the Open Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, a range of free cloud services and access to their global technology partner network. - continued support from Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise, providing ongoing business support and mentoring to the Social Enterprise category.

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:

"This year every Scottish university is tasked with uncovering the next big idea and as a female entrepreneur I would like to personally encourage more women to apply in 2017. Following an increase in applicants for both the KickStart and Social Enterprise award categories both prize funds have been increased to £10,000 encouraging entrepreneurship at every stage.

"Converge Challenge remains committed to developing ambitious entrepreneurs and helping them build a valuable network of contacts that helps them to grow their business on a global stage."

Converge Challenge offers three award categories. Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea; KickStart: for early stage ideas; and Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues. It is open to staff, students and recent graduates and ideas can be for a product, process or a service, at any stage of development and from any industry sector. Converge Challenge is now open for applications and closes on Monday 10th April at 5pm GMT. To enter visit

£4 million robotics boost for offshore windfarms

A collaboration between colleagues from Heriot-Watt's Ocean Systems Laboratory and the Smart Systems Group has received funding to deliver a human-robotics hybrid solution for the maintenance and operation of offshore windfarms.

The Heriot-Watt team, which includes Dr David Flynn, Dr Keith Brown and Professor David Lane, is part of a consortium of experts sharing a £4 million grant to create remote inspection and repair technologies using robotics and autonomous systems. These will be used to inspect the condition of subsea power cables, identify problems early and ultimately, extend their lifespan.

Dr David Flynn, director of the Smart Systems Group (SSG) at Heriot-Watt University, said: "The UK government has set ambitious decarbonisation targets, increasing the present 5GW generated by offshore windfarms to 40GW by 2050.

The costs of achieving these targets have, until now, focused on the capital outlay for wind turbines, but budgets have largely ignored the operation and maintenance of windfarm assets, including subsea cabling.

"By integrating technologies, such as autonomous underwater vehicles and advanced sonar technology, we will gain a new insight into the condition of these subsea assets.

Currently 70% of cable failure modes cannot be monitored in-situ, inhibiting accurate health monitoring. This exciting and highly interdisciplinary project builds on our globally recognised expertise in embedded intelligence and robotics and autonomous systems.

Dr David Flynn, Institute of Sensors, Signals & Systems

"We aim to provide the UK with a competitive advantage within the highly lucrative offshore energy market. Our hybrid, human-robotics, technology will seek to protect those most vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy by reducing the costs faced by both tax and bill payers.

"The UK is leading the world in the development of remote inspection technologies, which also have significant applications in the global oil and gas decommissioning market. As the UK works towards ambitious decarbonisation targets, we expect this industry to be worth more than £2 billion per year by 2020."

The consortium (the Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms or HOME-Offshore) brings together internationally recognised experts from the following universities: Manchester (project lead), Warwick, Cranfield, Durham and Heriot-Watt University.

The £4 million research grant includes a £1 million industry contribution and £3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). "

DORADA Fellow wins prestigious Bell Labs award

Leading innovators from Heriot-Watt, together with colleagues from Georgia Tech, have won one of three prizes to collaborate with researchers at the world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs.

A team that includes DORADA fellow Prof. George Goussetis wins the 3rd place in the 2016 Bell Labs Prize competition. The winners were selected from among seven finalists, who were in turn drawn from a total field of over 250 proposals from 41 countries. According to Bell Labs "prize winners demonstrated game-changing ideas in science, technology, engineering or mathematics with the potential to improve the future of the human experience by ten-fold." In addition a cash prize of $35K, the team will also be given the opportunity to collaborate with the world-renowned researchers at Nokia Bell Labs on the further development of their ideas.

CDT-EI Colloquium at Heriot-Watt

On 24 November the CDT-EI cohort held their first Colloquium at Heriot-Watt University. They were delighted to have Alun Morgan, the current Chairperson of EIPC, deliver the keynote address. Alun's presentation focussed on the automotive industry and the development of electronics past, present and future. Following the keynote a number of our students presented their research.

Adrian Ayastuy Rodriguez "opportunities of Embedded Intelligence in Livestock Production" Melanie Zimmer "Energy optimisation for industry 4.0 – an artificial intelligence approach" Mohamed Taher "Driverless Cars: Are we there yet? Enhancing safety in cars of the future" Ruben Kruiper "Computer-Aided Biomimetics" Pawel Ladosz "Trajectory Planning for Communication Relay Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Urban Dynamic Environments"

The event concluded with a poster session showcasing the group project work researchers conduct during the first year of study. Attended by CDT-EI researchers, academics and representatives from our industrial partners the day successfully provided opportunity for attendees to hear about the research being conducted in our Centre and to make new contacts.

Heriot-Watt Professor elected as Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Heriot-Watt academic Professor Cheng-Xiang Wang has been elected as Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in their 2017 Fellows class, which contained 299 new appointments from 26 different countries.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Through its over 420,000 members in 160 countries, the association is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics.

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed 0.1% of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognised by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. In this year, only 7 people from the UK are elevated as Fellows of the IEEE.

Prof. Cheng-Xiang Wang is awarded the IEEE Fellowship ‘for contributions to wireless channel modelling for vehicular networks’. He has been with Heriot-Watt University since 2005 and became a Professor in Wireless Communications in 2011. He is the Head of Advanced Wireless Technologies (AWiTec) Lab and a Deputy Head of the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems. His current research interests focus on wireless channel modelling and 5G wireless communication networks. He has published 1 book, 1 book chapter, 120 journal papers, and about 140 international conference papers, 9 of which received Best Paper Awards. His publications have attracted about 5000 citations with h-index=35 (Google Scholar).

Approaches to Nature Inspired Manufacturing

Prof Marc Desmulliez, Deputy Head of the Institute of Sensors & Signals & Systems recently hosted a presentation on approaches to Nature Inspired Manufacturing. The talk was part of a wider TEDx event and you can view his presentation on the Heriot-Watt Tedx Channel.

Heriot-Watt University and University of Glasgow have been announced the joint winners of Converge Challenge 2016.

Professor Marc Desmulliez, Deputy Head of Sensors, Signals and Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has won with MicroSense Technologies Ltd, a service company based on the patented product called FoodSense, a sensor system aimed at reducing waste and improving process monitoring in food processing lines for the Food and Drinks industries.

Converge Challenge, Scotland’s leading company creation competition and start up development programme for staff, students and recent graduates of Scottish Universities, announced its winners at its annual awards ceremony on 22 September 2016 at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh.

The first place prize is valued at £71,000 including £43,000 in cash and £28,000 worth of business support will be split between the joint winners (valued at £35,500 each, £21,500 in cash and £14,000 in business support).

The annual awards hosted over 220 guests including the panel of expert judges, made up of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs and investors from across the business community, who earlier in the day judged the Converge Challenge finalists as they presented their final business plans in 45 minute pitches.

The 2016 Converge Challenge programme has been the most successful to date with 17 of Scotland’s universities represented among 212 applications. This was a record number of applicants and represents 14% growth year on year. Applications were received from undergraduates (30%), postgraduates (40%) and staff (30%) and increased applications for both the KickStart (34%) and the Social Enterprise award categories (14%).

Prof Desmulliez and Microsense Technologies has also appeared on the Scottish Business News Network with joint winner, Rogellio Arelalno.

BASP research group wins best paper award

The Biomedical and Astronomical Signal Processing (BASP) group at the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS) in Heriot-Watt University has been awarded the EUSIPCO 2016 conference’s best paper. Every year, the European Signal Processing Conference honours the most ground breaking contributions in Signal Processing.

Mr. Abdullah Abdulaziz, PhD student, Dr. Arwa Dabbech, Dr. Alexandru Onose and Professor Yves Wiaux, Head of the BASP research group, received this award in September 2016 for their research work on hyper-spectral compressive imaging and its significant contribution to the radio-interferometry community.

ISSS makes the top ten in the converge challenge

Prof Marc Desmulliez, in collaboration with Dr David Flynn, Dr David Herd and Dr Sumanth Pavuluri, have been shortlisted as one of the top ten finalists of the prestigious competition Converge Challenge. The company, called MicroSense Technologies Ltd (MTL), is a service based company relying on the commercialisation of its product called FoodSense that is an advanced sensor system for the Food & Drinks Industries. Combining novel sensing technology, advanced electronics and state-of-the-art software algorithms, the sensor system is an automated, online monitoring system measuring the variation of the composition of a food or drink product. The real-time monitoring of this composition during food or drink processing allows significant cost savings through reduction in wastage of food ingredients. MTL manufactures the sensor system and ensures the maintenance, upgrade and calibration of FoodSense at the customers premises through a subscription model. MTL is the only company form HWU shortlisted amongst the top 10.

Researchers demonstrate acoustic levitation of a large sphere

The researchers, Marco Andrade and Julio Adamowski at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, along with Anne Bernassau at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, have published a paper on the acoustic levitation demonstration in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters. When placed in an acoustic field, small objects experience a net force that can be used to levitate the objects in air. In a new study, researchers have experimentally demonstrated the acoustic levitation of a 50-mm (2-inch) solid polystyrene sphere using ultrasound—acoustic waves that are above the frequency of human hearing. read the article in full please click on the website.

CDT Summer School

Students at EPSRC CDTEI compete to create new technology for the visually impaired Students at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence participated in the annual Summer School, hosted at Loughborough University from 29th June to 1st July 2016.

In partnership with Royal National College for the Blind (RNIB) College Loughborough, students in teams were competing in the challenge of developing ‘embedded intelligence’ related aids for the visually impaired. The event included presentations from guest speakerslocal organisations, including Anna Janickyj of RNIB College Loughborough, George Torrens, Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University’s award winning Design School, as well as Brian Golland and Martin Grant from REMAP Leicestershire, a charitable organisation making custommade adapted equipment to help disabled people gain independence. The event also included development time for teams to work on their projects, testing of the prototypes by students from the RNIB, as well as final presentations of the finished prototypes to a judging panel. The three teams in competition created the following prototypes:Winning prototypes: obstacle avoidance cane with integrated face recognition app Runners up: obstacle detection cane, colour detection device emitting various frequencies of sound corresponding to different colours.

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Embedded Intelligence , a national training centreled by Loughborough University, in partnership with Heriot-Watt University, aims to train future research leaders in engineering for industry, life and health. The CDTEI Summer School is an event held annually at Loughborough University, which provides an opportunity for all CDT student cohorts to meet, work together and to learn new skills. CDTEI is currently seeking science and engineering graduates and companies to participate in industrially co-sponsored PhD projects in the area of embedded intelligences; for more information contact Donna Palmer or visit

The long & short interview

Prof Marc Desmulliez, Deputy Head of ISSS and Director of the Nature Inspired Manufacturing Centre (NIMC), was interviewed by journalist Lucy Jones for the innovative magazine, The Long & Short. In this article Prof Desmulliez discusses the challenges companies face when attempting to mimic nature and embrace environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. His comments can be read in full on page 16 of the article, 'Better nature'.

Prof Desmulliez is also on the organising committee for the forthcoming Living Machines 2016 (co-sponsored by Heriot-Watt University/ISSS). The European Conference on Bio-Robotics and Biomimetic Systems, Living Machines 2016, will take place this July in Edinburgh. The Conference will be preceded with satellite events and workshops at The University of Edinburgh on the 19th July followed by the single track conference at Dynamic Earth from 20th July to 22nd July. More information on this exciting event can be found on the wesbite for Living Machines 2016.

Owl feathers, Penguins and a Kingfisher’s head: Inspiration for the bullet train

Dipl.Eng. Eiji Nakatsu, former Director of Technical Development and Test Operation, West Japan Railways Company, is one of the foremost design engineers of the famous Japanese Shinkansen bullet train. The train is one of the fastest trains in the world yet one of the most silent. In his talk, Mr. Nakatsu will reveal how bio-inspiration and study of the kingfisher, owl, penguin and demoiselle crane enabled him to increase the train’s speed, reduce its electricity consumption and noise.

Dipl. Eng. Eiji Nakatsu graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Osaka University. Employed in 1987 by the West Japan Railways Company, he rapidly obtained seniority within the company, becoming Director of Technical Development in 1989, and Director of Test Operations in 1992. His skills in improving the operation of the Shinkansen train did not go unnoticed and he became the Vice Director of the Safety Department of Taiwan High Speed Railway Corporation in 2003 and advisor for the Indian Ministry of Railway for the High Speed Railway Project in 2011. In 2012, he served as a consultant for the Marmaray project in Turkey, which oversaw the construction of an undersea tunnel railway across the Bosphorus. He is also a member of many Non-for-Profit organisations such as the World Bird Society of Japan and the Weather Network.

The talk will take place at Edinburgh Zoo on Tuesday14 June. For further information and to register for free:

This lecture sponsored by the International ISSS Seminar Series, HWU Nature Inspired manufacturing Centre (NIMC), Edinburgh Zoo and the Moredun Institute.

New Energy Centre to cut through uncertainty and confusion

A new centre which will allow experts to test the whole energy system in real time on the national grid has been announced. Led by the University of Newcastle, the project incorporates an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Heriot-Watt including, Dr.David Flynn (ISSS), Dr. Valentin Robu (ISSS), Dr. David Jenkins (EGIS) and Dr. Andrew Peacock (EGIS). The research will also draw on the expertise of leading academics from the universities of Sussex, Edinburgh and Durham. Bridging a pivotal gap in our drive towards a fully integrated, smart energy network, the centre is crucial to improving energy efficiency, driving down customer bills and reducing carbon emissions.

The £20m EPSRC Centre, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with £15M of industrial support, will bring together energy experts from around the world to help unravel the energy network and understand future supply and demand.

Centre Associate Director Dr David Flynn, Director of the Smart Systems Group at Heriot-Watt University, said, "To ensure that the UK has an energy network fit for purpose, we must take a whole systems approach to ensure that the infrastructure (physical assets) and polices that influence its future are focused on a sustainable energy network that is centred on meeting the needs of the society that it serves.

"This new National Centre will provide us with an unparalleled source of data and we must support the energy community in converting that into actionable information to inform policy and design of the energy network. This will allow us to develop solutions that deal with the inherent risk and uncertainty within the energy network so we can confidently inform government policy.

"It gives us an opportunity here in the UK to really drive forward the smart energy revolution and become international leaders in this space. We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at Newcastle, Edinburgh, Durham and Sussex."

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said, "From powering our businesses to monitoring our health and connecting us with friends and family around the world, we all rely on the generation and supply of electricity. This £20 million Centre will help us with the next challenge of storing new sources of energy to meet future demand and secure the UK’s leading position in low carbon technologies."

Spinach makes light work of research

Photobioform II, a new project led by Prof Marc Desmulliez is underway to use green chemicals inside spinach leaves to bring metallic nanoparticles embedded in plastics back to the surface to form a conducive circuit, with a number of practical applications ranging from smart prosthetics to antimicrobial surfaces. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) has awarded the project just over £700,000 under its ‘Manufacturing with Light’ Programme and the research team, working in collaboration with Leeds University, also has support from manufacturers. Photobioform II uses plants such as spinach leaves or carrots to accelerate the production of metals originally present in treated plastic materials. Selective formation of metallic nanoparticles in plastics has a wide range of uses including the generation of conductive tracks for electronics interconnections, the creation of antimicrobial surfaces and the fabrication of sensors and actuators. These applications could find commercial interest in companies specialized in the manufacturing of mobile phones, artificial legs and arms, smart surfaces and medical devices for hospitals.

Fighting copyright infringement could save creative industries

Researchers at Heriot-Watt is developing watermarking techniques that could protect media copyright information, deter piracy and save jobs:

Copyright infringement for digital media has surged in recent years with the availability of high speed home broadband and through piracy websites and peer to peer networks e.g., torrent. The creative industries employ 1.7 million people in the UK with a gross added value of £76.9bn in 2013, account for 5% of UK economy. Copyright theft equates a total economic loss of £1.2bn in the UK.

Dr Deepayan Bhowmik, a research associate in ISSS, recently receieved a Digital Catupult EPSRC fellowship through a 'Research in Residence' programme to work closely with Digital Catapult's Copyright Hub, UK's frontal organisation attempting to work on digital rights management for creative industries. Dr Bhowmik, a senior researcher in residence (targeted at exceptional researchers), will help Catapult projects, provide thought leadership, and drive the creation of new activities, via a series of short secondments to the Catapult in London. His proposed project, entitled 'Self-Embedding Watermarking for Media Copyright Protection (SeWMediaCoP)', will provide solutions to embed copyright identifiers within the media content securely; and identify potential tampering and recover the original media. The expected benefits include improved copyright protection for creative media, existing digital media in the public libraries and the national archives; and determent of piracy safeguarding jobs in industries in the UK, EU and globally.


EPSRC "Manufacturing with Light" programme Success for Heriot-Watt Academics

EPSRC have recently announced £2.7M of funding for four projects under the "Manufacturing with Light" programme, which exploits innovative uses of light in manufacturing processes and technologies. Two projects out of those four have been awarded to Heriot-Watt University, emphasizing the strength of the University’s research in manufacturing and photonics.

The two Heriot-Watt projects are led by Professors from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences: Prof. Andrew Moore from IPaQS and Prof. Marc Desmulliez from ISSS for a combined amount of £787k, with an additional combined £586k awarded to their academic collaborators Prof. John Nicholls (Cranfield University) and Dr. Robert Kay (Leeds University), respectively. Both projects also include considerable industrial support.

Prof. Moore’s project (EP/N018249/1) deals with sub-surface stress measurements in ceramic thermal barrier coatings that are used in modern jet engines. These ceramic coatings enable the temperature of the burning gases in the engine to exceed (safely!) the melting point of the metal components underneath. High operating temperatures are crucial to the air transport industry: an increase in temperature directly improves the engine efficiency, which in turn reduces fuel consumption and CO2 and NOx emissions. However, current technology is incapable of reliably inspecting the quality of these ceramic coatings during their manufacture, which means that the coated components must be replaced far more frequently than is necessary and severely hinders the design of new coatings for even higher operating temperatures in the future.

Heriot-Watt is helping to solve this problem by developing technology that measures the stresses produced in the ceramic coatings during their manufacture. These measurements are made using terahertz radiation to see through the materials and measure small changes in refractive index that can be linked directly to internal stresses. These new techniques will enable in-process control during manufacture, and in-service quality assurance, for a range of materials where this is not currently available. The project is supported by Rolls-Royce, the leading UK manufacturer of jet engines, and by Renishaw, a leading UK manufacturer of both metrology instruments and ceramic components for healthcare applications. In the first stage of the project, Prof. Moore and co-investigator Dr. Peter Schemmel are installing a state-of-the-art THz laser combined with an extremely sensitive cryogen-free cooled bolometer detector, the only one of its kind currently in the UK.

Prof. Desmulliez’s project (EP/N018222/1) deals with the development of bio-inspired, industrially relevant manufacturing processes that can selectively pattern metals onto non-conductive substrates. It uses light-harvesting complexes, such as chlorophyll, to accelerate the reduction of metal ions embedded into these substrates. Selective formation of metallic nanoparticles in plastics has a wide range of uses including the generation of conductive tracks for electronics interconnections, the creation of antimicrobial surfaces and the fabrication of sensors and actuators. These applications could find commercial interest in companies specialized in microsystems, printed electronics, medical devices manufacturing and wearable devices.

Initial work carried out with Dr. Jose Marques Hueso has already demonstrated the creation of metal surfaces onto polyimide (trade name of KaptonTM) and polyetherimide, commonly used in 3D printing. Light harvesting complexes obtained by using extract of spinach leaves provided substantial reduction of light exposure compared to synthetically, non-sustainable chemical agents. The work is in collaboration with Dr. Robert Kay from Leeds University with Merlin Circuit Technology, Chas A Blatchford & Sons and Renishaw as industrial Partners. Merlin Circuit technology Ltd is a leader in Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing and Blatchford & Sons is one of the foremost prosthetics manufacturers in the world.

For more information, please click on the following URL link:


Research Fellow wins International Acoustics Awards

Dr Yan Pailhas, Research Fellow in the Ocean Systems Laboratory at the the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been awarded the prestigious A. B. Wood Medal by the Institute of Acoustics. The A. B. Wood Medal is awarded annually to a young researcher for distinguished contributions to the application of the field of underwater acoustics.

Dr Pailhas has worked in the various domains of underwater acoustics (including sonar processing, sonar design, acoustic wave propagation modelling and acoustic wave / matter interaction) for over ten years. He is well known for his contributions to wideband acoustics and to MIMO (Multiple Inputs Multiple Outputs) sonar systems. He has authored and co-authored more than 60 papers in various journals and international conferences.

Dr Pailhas said: "I feel very honoured to receive such a prestigious award from the Institute of Acoustics. It is an extremely important peak in my career and I hope to follow in the steps of previous winners. It is a very exciting time to work in underwater acoustics: the Oceans are the last boundaries on Earth for exploration and exploitation. New technologies allow us to push these boundaries and underwater acoustics brings a new understanding to this environment and also brings innovative solutions for the new challenges ahead."

The A. B. Wood Medal is awarded in memory of Albert Beaumont Wood who is well known for his contributions to the science of underwater acoustics and for the help he gave yo younger colleagues in the early years of the 20th century.

The medal will be presented to Dr Pailhas at the Acoustic and Environmental Variability, Fluctuations and Coherence conference in Cambridge on 12-13th December 2016.

More on the A B Wood medal on the Institute of Acoustics website.

Heriot-Watt Academic Appointed CBE

Professor David Lane, Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering in Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Engineering in the 2016 New Year's Honours list.

This is a very well deserved honour.

Professor Richard A. Williams

Professor Lane is the founding Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a £35M joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. He previously established the University’s Ocean Systems Laboratory, with an international reputation in marine robotics, publishing nearly 200 cited publications with international funding.

In 2001 he founded SeeByte Ltd, commercializing Heriot-Watt technology, and, as CEO until 2010, led the company’s evolution from start-up to a multi-million dollar award-winning organization located in Edinburgh and San Diego.

He also led the development of the UK’s national Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) innovation strategy for the Minister for Universities and Science, motivating and influencing over £200M of investment in Robotics and Autonomous Systems R&D by the UK government. As director of EURobotics AISBL he helped shape the EU Horizon2020 Robotics public-private partnership and the direction of €700M in funding from the European Commission

Professor Lane has been elected to Fellowships of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Society for Underwater Technology, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Royal Geographical Society.

He graduated in 1980 with a BSc in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Heriot-Watt University, and again in 1986 with a PhD in Underwater Robotics.

Heriot-Watt University Principal Professor Richard A. Williams said, "This is a very well deserved honour, and I’m sure I speak for the whole University in congratulating Professor Lane on this recognition of his outstanding work and many achievements in research, commercialisation, industry and public policy."

Former University Principal Professor Steve Chapman, now Vice-Chancellor at Edith Cowan University in Australia, was also appointed CBE, for services to Higher Education

Sensor technology inspired by Bottlenose Dolphins could help improve subsea detection capabilities in a range of applications, thanks to a new collaborative research project involving Heriot-Watt’s Ocean Systems Laboratory.

The project, which includes high-tech sonar and underwater systems company, Hydrason Solutions, and CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for sensor and imaging systems, will develop an enhanced wideband sonar system based on the principles of the marine mammals’ detection capabilities and which will dramatically improve the range of data collected by wideband sonar devices.

The technology will be unique in enabling users to locate accurately underwater objects, as well as identifying their structure and composition, without making any direct contact. Existing sensor products cannot penetrate objects, instead providing only an image outline.

The system could have a variety of applications, helping surveyors to find blockages in pipelines, determine whether an underwater support is still structurally sound or identify wildlife on the seabed.

Dr Keith Brown, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said, "Bottlenose Dolphins are extremely good at detecting objects in the water; using sonar they can detect fish in the sand which can’t be seen by the eye. Earlier research also showed that dolphins can differentiate between the contents of a variety of filled aluminium bottles using signal processing.

"We analysed the characteristics of these signals and, using transducers, have reproduced frequencies within the same parameters: as close as possible to those created by dolphins. This breakthrough means our new wideband sonar system can provide its users with even greater environmental, seabed and structural detail. It could, for example, be used to detect a variety of underwater objects, hairline cracks in oil rigs’ support legs or changes to the sediment on the seafloor."

In addition to providing users with additional information, the system will be deployable on range of nautical vehicles, including autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles. Multiple surveys can be conducted from one ship, making the device an economic way of collecting data.

ISSS staff publish an award winning paper

Iain Rodger, Dr. Neil Robertson (ISSS, Visionlab) and Dr. Barry Connor (Thales) published an award-winning paper in the proceedings of the Institute of Mathematics & its Applications (IMA) Conference on Mathematics in Defence held in Oxford. As a result of the quality of the work and the oral presentation, the Early Career Award from the IMA was given to Iain Rodger.

This conference itself focuses on the important role mathematics plays in science and technology within the defence sector. It aims to bring together a wide variety of engineers, scientists and mathematicians working on defence and security applications. The work of Iain's EngD with Thales and the Visionlab produces a novel and efficient solution for object detection and classification in surveillance using long-wave infra-red and visual band sensors The work deploys Bayesian statistics to transfer knowledge from the visible to the thermal domain, allowing thermal signatures to be classified without any extensive machine learning or training scheme. The proposed solution shows promise for Thales sensor systems and would be applicable to 24-hour surveillance problems. Iain is now focusing on new methods for deep learning of target signatures from LWIR data from Thales world-leading Catherine MP sensor. "

Iain commented, "It is especially pleasing for the work of this collaboration to be recognised by the defence community which has a keen awareness of the ongoing challenges in optical surveillance. It is recognition also of the good collaboration established between the Visionlab and Thales in Glasgow."

Strategic partnership with Heriot-Watt University

Newarc Ltd (a North East manufacturer of welding power sources) has agreed a strategic partnership with Heriot Watt University to perform a 3 year collaborative research & development Project.

The Project will focus on several technical innovations that have been identified in a joint study between the parties, toward the development of the next generation of Newarc welding machines. The partnership has received the green light from Innovate UK under their Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme which also triggers significant grant funding to support the employment of a high calibre PhD or Masters level Engineering graduate to undertake the 3 year Project

The Project will be led by Dr David Flynn, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University who commented: "This new strategic alliance will utilise Heriot-Watt University’s world leading capability in the design and development of smart systems. Working in collaboration with the highly skilled engineering team within Newarc we will be in a position to deliver an exciting new generation of welding technologies to the global marketplace".

The Project is due to commence early in 2016 and will pave the way for continued growth of the Newarc business in addition to the potential creation of new Engineering and manufacturing jobs in the region.

David Kerr, Newarc’s General Manager said "This is fantastic news for both Newarc and Heriot Watt University. Possibly more significant however is the fact that this presents an excellent opportunity for a world class Engineer to join the collaborative team and work on a major growth & innovation Project right here in our region".

The Engineer appointed will be situated at Newarcs R&D centre in Newcastle upon Tyne and following the KTP key principles will be supervised and supported by both the workplace specialist & academics from Heriot-Watt University.

Research into managing energy on marine vessels

Dr David Flynn and Dr Valentin Robu have secured funding from Innovate UK as part of an industrial and academic consorting researching energy management within Marine Vessels.

The HyFES (Hybrid Fusion Energy System) is a business led, collaborative project to further improve the benefits (lower fuel costs, reduced emissions) marine vessels gain from switching to a hybrid propulsion systems. HyFES is following an innovative approach of combining multiple battery technologies and sub systems within a vessel which allows existing products to be retrofitted as low carbon hybrid vessels. The consortium will work within this research project to develop the technological foundation which uses data based prognostic algorithms to ensure optimal operation of the system assets. It will also work on the initial system integration and test. A further focus will be to ensure vessels make operational decisions based on through life costs of assets rather than focusing solely on fuel saving. The HyFES architecture is scalable and adaptable to various sectors and represents the next generation of performance and asset management.

The project brings together a consortium that spans the complete supply chain including Heriot-Watt and University of Southampton, the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI), Custom and Contract Power Solutions (CCPS), Denchi Power (lead partner), Ferguson Marine and MBNA Thames Clipper.

Award win for ISSS PhD student

Iain Rodger, PhD student from ISSS, won an award at the "4th IMA conference on Mathematics in Defence" and I was given the "Early Career Award" for his paper and conference presentation.

Researching autonomous cars with Jaguar Land Rover

ISSS is part of an £11m research programme working with Jaguar Land Rover on fully autonomous cars.

The research, jointly funded by the EPSRC and Jaguar Land Rover, will involve ten UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory as well as the car manufacturers. It was announced by Secretary of State for Business Sajid Javid during a visit to Jaguar Land Rover's facility at Gaydon in Warwickshire.

These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK's leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomousdriving.

Dr Wolfgang Eppel

The projects will look into the use of radar and video sensing to interpret the external environment, road conditions and other road users; how drivers will react to new autonomous systems; how systems can be designed to adapt to the personal characteristics of users; investigate how the transition between human control and automated systems can be designed to best effect; how distributed control systems and cloud computing can be integrated with vehicles; and how data from intelligent infrastructure, drivers and automated vehicles can be used to aid interaction.

Business Secretary, Sajid Javid said, "The UK Government has no intention of being a passenger in innovation so is pioneering autonomous car technology in partnership with industry. This £11 million research and development programme and the winning projects are a perfect example of this and will help to keep us at the forefront of the robotics revolution."

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said, "To realise the future potential for fully autonomous vehicles, we need to give drivers, pedestrians and other road users the confidence that a car driving around with little or no human input is a safe, viable and rewarding experience. These collaborative projects will bring some of the UK's leading academics together with our autonomous driving team to address the fundamental real-world challenges that are part of our journey towards autonomous driving."

Safety and fuel efficiency

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said, "Science and engineering research is vitalto technological innovation and to keeping UK businesses at the forefront of global markets. This joint investment shows how strategic partnerships between the research councils, universities and business can identify industry's challenges and build the academic expertise needed to meet them. The universities and partners in these projects will take novel approaches to safely change the way we travel in the future."

Professor Andrew Wallace from the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said, "Video remains at the heart of the system, but the key second sensor modality is a novel, Terahertz radar system which will be developed at the University of Birmingham that can provide high resolution 3D imagery in all weathers. At Heriot-Watt we shall work with them and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh to combine the radar and, where possible, video data to map the environment and classify other road users and hazards, from pot-holes to articulated lorries, working towards a safer and fuel efficient future."

ISSS takes part in ICT Pioneers 2015 competition

The UK ICT Pioneers competition was launched on 5th March 2015 and open to all PhD candidates in the UK. Puneet Chabra, a PhD student from ISSS, has been invited to take part in stage 3 of the competition in London on 29th October 2015. Puneet will be given the opportunity to produce a more in-depth presentation of his work which will be judged on the day of the event.

UK ICT Pioneers is a unique partnership between Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and key stakeholders that aims to recognise the most exceptional UK doctoral students in ICT-related topics who are able to communicate and demonstrate the excellence and exploitation potential of their research. The competition is sponsored by: Dstl, HP, EPSRC, BCS, BT, Facebook and Samsung. Finalists and their supervisors will be invited to a VIP research exhibition and the awards event on 29 October 2015, attended by senior government and business representatives.

More information about the competition can be found at:

"It is a privilege to be invited onto the panel and represents a great opportunity to support SP energy networks in meeting its obligations for a sustainable, secure and affordable energy network. This role aligns with our expertise and research agenda within the Energy Academy, as well as the Institute of Signals, Sensors and Systems ".

Dr. David Flynn, Institute of Sensors, Signals & Systems

Heriot-Watt Academic invited to be on Strategic Stakeholder Panel for Scotland

Dr. David Flynn, (Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems) has been invited by Frank Mitchel, CEO of Scottish Power Energy Networks, to join the Strategic Stakeholder Panel for Scotland alongside the SP Executive Team, representatives from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Energy Action Scotland and Skills Development Scotland, amongst others.

The panels are an opportunity for executive level representatives to network, understand and influence energy policy and strategy and understand opportunities for cross-organisation development of solutions to common issues. The meetings provide a forum for discussion, feedback, collaboration and challenge on issues arising in the area or topics of interest to members and relevant to the company.

New Head of ISSS

Yvan Petillot is Head of Institute at Heriot-Watt University. He is a leading member of the Oceans Systems Laboratory, the deputy director of the Institute for Sensor Signals and Systems and the deputy director of the joint research institute in Signal and Image Processing (ERP-SIP) with Edinburgh University. He is also currently a Royal Society Industry Fellow in collaboration with SeeByte Ltd, a company he co-founded in 2001 and in which he was Chief Technical Officer until 2010. With over 15 years experience in Robotics, Image Processing and Autonomous Systems in the maritime domain, he has made very significant contributions to target detection and classification multiple vehicle collaboration and autonomous inspection and manipulation. He has a long history of successful collaborations with other leading researchers in Europe through a number of European Research Projects (ALIVE, Autotracker, Amason, 2005, FreeSubNet 2008, Trident, 2010, Eurathlon 2012) totaling over £1.5M of research funding. He had also been working closely with MOD and DSTL on defense related projects and secured a number of EPSRC projects in the robotics and signal processing areas. He was recently awarded a programme grant in Signal Processing for the Networked battle space in collaboration with Edinburgh University and is leading the research in the maritime domain. He created the first European Competition in Underwater Robotics for autonomous systems in 2006, with support from EPSRC and MOD and has led this effort since in collaboration with the NATO Undersea Research Centre. He has since been awarded and European Union Funded project (Eurathlon) to develop a real-world competition for disaster relief covering the air, land and sea domains.

In parallel, Professor Petillot has a unique track record in technology transfer and engagement with industry. He co-founded SeeByte Ltd in 2001 and led the transitioning of research, technology and personnel from the University to the company. Of note were the successful transfer of the Autotracker EU funded project, now a product in SeeByte ltd sold worldwide, the transfer of MOD funded collaborative framework for multi-vehicle collaboration, evaluated by the US Navy under their Foreign Competitive Technology framework and now a product sold to the US and UK Navies.

ISSS welcomes Dr Anne Bernassau

ISSS welcomed a new academic member of staff, Ms. Anne BERNASSAU who started on the 7th of April. Anne L. Bernassau was born in Paris, France and earned her Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Medical Science and Technology at the University of Dundee, UK in 2009. Her PhD topic was on "Micro-engineering for high frequency ultrasound arrays". She joined the University of Glasgow on the collaborative project "Electronic sonotweezers: particle manipulation with ultrasonic arrays" and pioneered acoustic multi-transducers manipulation for the use of bio-engineering and targeted drug delivery applications.

After the success of sonotweezers, she secured a 4 year Lord Kelvin Adam Smith fellowship as an independent academic researcher. Her interests include ultrasonic sensors, ultrasonic transducers fabrication, micro-fabrication, transducer arrays, acoustofluidics, acoustic particle manipulation and piezoelectric materials.

Acoustic manipulation enable high throughput, dynamic and precise control of micro-particles such as living cells and drugs carriers. Such technology can be integrated with sensors to allow further analyses of manipulated particles. Applications of these technologies include all kind of living biological cell studies such as sorting, filtering and concentrating, and further to bio-engineering such as controlled tissue culture.

Anne will be joining MISEC and the microsystems research group within MISEC. She will no doubt interact with colleagues at IB3 specialised in ultrasounds and microfluidic technology, as well as with colleagues at IMPEE on piezomaterials.

Women in EECE/ISSS Networking Lunch

The Women in EECE/ISSS Networking Lunch took place on 1st April 2015 to celebrate both International Women’s Day (IWD) and the launch of Women in EECE/ISSS Network. HWU is involved in the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) scheme. An aim of this is to increase the number of female researchers and academics in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. A SWAN committee has been set up in the School to address ways to encourage more females to progress within the School, right from undergraduate through to research and academic level. As part of this, ISSS are planning to arrange formal and informal peer mentoring for all interested women in the institute. Peer mentoring will help to promote a strong, supportive culture in our School. The major aim of this mentoring will be to provide an enhanced, student/staff led, induction process.

For more information please contact Dr Mathini Sellathurai

Heriot-Watt academic shortlisted for UK Energy Innovation Awards

Dr David Flynn, of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been selected as a finalist in the UK Energy Innovation Awards 2015.

Dr Flynn, Deputy Director of Microsystems Engineering Centre (MISEC) and Heriot-Watt Deputy Director of CDT Embedded Intelligence, was shortlisted under two separate headings, ‘Best Offshore Renewable Energy Innovation’ and ‘Best University Technology’ The Energy Innovation Centre

The organisers, the Energy Innovation Centre, said that there was an exceptionally high number of entries in each of this year’s extended list of 14 categories, entry figures overall up 43% on 2014.

Senior figures from industry met to judge the submissions which were deemed to be of an extremely high standard. The shortlist includes over 62 innovative technologies, projects and firms from across the electricity, gas and offshore renewables sectors. The winners will be announced at an event in Manchester at the end of April.

EIC’s managing director, Denise Massey, commented, "The volume and quality of award entries we receive are always a good indication of how well the energy sector is keeping up with the pace of innovation and this year has been particularly encouraging."

The Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) brings industry and innovation together to drive the discovery, development and deployment of new technologies and ideas for the electricity and gas power distribution networks, and the offshore renewable energy sector.

Prestigious Scholarship Awarded to Heriot-Watt Staff

Five Heriot-Watt researchers have joined forces to tackle Multiple Sclerosis, MS is a debilitating neurological disease that affects approximately 127,000 People in the UK, with the cost of treatment representing anywhere from £5,500 to £20,000 per year, presenting a significant challenge for health care providers. There is no cure for this disease and available treatments can only suppress the severity of relapses. The pathology of MS centres on the demyelination of axons which leads to reduction in axonal conduction velocity, and axonal degeneration. In some forms of MS, demyelination of CNS can be followed by repair (remyelination) through the action of new oligodentrocytes (myelin-forming cells) on axons. However, over time the chronic condition results in patients presenting with many of the most common symptons: problems with mobility and balance, blurring vision, muscle weakness and extreme tiredness.

The multidisciplinary team from Heriot-Watt have been awarded a prestigious Medical Research Scotland scholarship, one of only 6 awarded this year. Based on an original idea by Dr David Flynn (Institute of Sensors, Signal and Systems), the project will develop a drug screening platform specifically for MS application using innovative bioengineering. The vision of this research is to mimic demyelination and study means of inducing remyelination.

The future PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr Euan Brown (project PI), an experienced electrophysiologist and Dr Graeme Whyte (Co-I) a physicist with microfluidic, microenvironment and CNS culture experience. The project was pitched by Dr Maïwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas and Dr Nicholas Leslie at the IB3 away-day in June, where it received the best pitch award and endorsement from a judging panel including distinguished guest, Prof Alexander Seifalian, Professor of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine at University College London. Dr Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas and Dr Nicholas Leslie will provide expertise in Microfluidics and Biology respectively, while Dr David Flynn will support the consortium with his expertise in Sensors and Micro/nano engineering . Epigem Ltd, a polymer specialist company will provide the technical input and services in microfludic manufacturing.

The Next Generation of Power Network Condition Monitoring

Power networks represent a critical infrastructure throughout the world yet the installed base of transmission and distribution assets in the majority of countries has either exceeded or is nearing its recommend remaining useful life. The prospect of replacing such a vast network of assets, such as substations, transformers, switchgear etc. is infeasible, especially when considering that in the United States of America alone the transmission and distribution network is worth $300 Billion. Hence there is a need to monitor and maintain these assets to maximize their lifetime and to defer network replacement. In order to ensure high power quality, improved efficiency, and to meet the increasing load demands, companies such as Siemens Asset Services are pioneering a new generation of monitoring systems to address this global requirement.

In collaboration with Heriot-Watt University a team of PhD students, Mr Joseph Holt, Mr Adrian Ayastuy and Mr Dimitrios Pantazis, who are members of the EPSRC funded Centre of Doctoral Training (CDT) in Embedded Intelligence, collaborated with the monitoring and diagnostics team based in Hebburn to deliver an innovative partial discharge sensor for application within Gas Insulated Substations. Mr Graeme Coapes, KTP Associate, coordinated the design specification and technical support to the Heriot-Watt based research team.

Under the supervision of Dr. David Flynn, project manager, and Mr Graeme Coapes this team of early career researchers designed, simulated, manufactured and characterized a novel partial discharge monitoring system at the Hebburn facility. Mr Coapes said, "The results from this project are testimony to the abilities and dedication of the research team. Early results are promising for this technology and will be investigated further to fully understand its potential."

Dr. Flynn stated that, "I feel this project is evidence of the benefits of what can be achieved at the academic and industrial interface, the talented team of researchers have delivered not only a potential future product but also provided valuable knowledge transfer to the team within Siemens." This project is part of a wider collaboration between Siemens, Heriot-Watt University and Innovate UK, involving the translation of world-leading academic research into industry. This Partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP). KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. KTP is funded by Innovate UK along with the other government funding organisations.

ISSS and Naturally Inspired Manufacturing

Dr.Eitan Abraham, Profs Marc Desmulliez and Paul Conway from Heriot-Watt University and Loughborough University organised a workshop devoted to "Naturally Inspired Manufacturing on the 5-6 of December 2014. The very successful workshop, held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, gathered seventeen UK and international experts in biomimetics. From the words of one of the experts in bio materials "The workshop was mind boggling as I felt totally outside my comfort zone".

A follow on industrial workshop is to be held at Loughborough University on the 18th of February. The aim is to create A Centre in Biomimetism that builds on the expectations from industry.

For a short summary of what happened at Edinburgh, please see Biomimcry UK

Research Fellow wins PhD award

Yoann Altmann, Research fellow at Heriot-Watt University, has been awarded a "Prix Paul Sabatier math/info", from the Académie des Sciences, Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de Toulouse, France.

Yoann works with Prof. Steve McLaughlin and Prof. Andrew Wallace at the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS).

Every year, the Académie des Sciences, Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de Toulouse honours about 30 outstanding young researchers working in Midi-Pyrénées on various research domains (engineering, physics, medicine, life science, literature, economics).

Yoann received this award in December 2014 for his research work performed in Toulouse and Heriot-Watt on hyperspectral image analysis and its significant contribution to the remote sensing community.

You can read more about the award at Académie des Sciences, Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de Toulouse.

Pioneering work helps to join the dots across the known universe

A team of astrophysicists, engineers and computer scientists are spearheading research on imaging techniques which will potentially not only unlock secrets from the far reaches of the universe, but also impact modern medicine.

A new generation of imaging techniques

Some of the most exciting challenges in astronomy for the next decade range from searching for extraterrestrial forms of life to questioning Einstein’s theory of gravitation, and trying to unveil the mysteries of the dawn of the universe.

adio astronomical imaging urgently needs to be re-invented in this ultra-precision and Big Data context, where the recent theory of compressive sampling has huge potential.

Radio interferometric telescope arrays are unique instruments in that aim, recording and correlating electromagnetic waves to provide high-resolution images of the sky. The data holds partial information only and does not provide immediately recognisable visual images. Complex mathematical algorithms are required to recover the images of the sky under scrutiny.

Dr Yves Wiaux at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute of Sensors, Signals, and Systems (ISSS) and Dr Jason McEwen at University College London’s (UCL) Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), along with colleagues have been awarded £2 million over three years from UK research councils, to answer these challenges by developing a new generation of imaging techniques.

Future radio telescopes such as the flagship Square Kilometer Array (SKA), planned for 2023, are expected to image the sky with much higher resolution and sensitivity than current instruments. SKA antennas will extend over two continents (Africa and Australia) and record unprecedented volumes of data. This monster telescope will collect so much data in a single day that it would take nearly two million years to playback on an iPod.

Dr Yves Wiaux said, "Radio astronomical imaging urgently needs to be re-invented in this ultra-precision and Big Data context, where the recent theory of compressive sampling has huge potential."

This mathematical theory of compressive sampling proves that complex natural images can actually be recovered from partial information. It provides both new concepts to optimise the data acquisition procedure and leverages powerful mathematical algorithms to recover the image of interest from the partial information.

The project

The project will investigate ways to redesign telescope array configurations, so that each data point contains the maximum amount of information, while novel recovery algorithms will also be designed and applied to reconstruct ultra-high resolution images of the sky.

Dr McEwen said, "Next-generation radio telescopes like the SKA pose a tremendous Big Data challenge, where novel computing methodologies and algorithms will be absolutely essential."

State-of-the-art computing techniques and architectures will ensure the algorithms developed will run on the world’s largest super-computers and will scale to the Big Data regime of the SKA. Well-engineered software embodying these algorithms will be a critical research output and will be made openly available to the radio astronomy community.

The new imaging techniques will also find direct application in many other fields of science and technology. They will impact biomedical imaging, in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), by providing faster scans, and the team will transfer their techniques from astronomical imaging to neuroimaging.

High angular resolution diffusion MRI probes the direction of water diffusion at each point in the brain with the aim of reconstructing global neuronal pathways. This is fundamental for neuroscience and currently attracts huge interest in the scientific community.

On the clinical side, it would also provide new diagnostic methodologies for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, with subsequent benefits for healthcare in terms of diagnosis quality and costs. Typical scan times, however, are far too long for clinical application at present, due to the exceptionally large data volumes of interest.

Dr Wiaux said, "The project will again use the theory of compressive sampling to accelerate diffusion MRI scans significantly, opening the door to the clinical application of high angular resolution diffusion MRI."

Dr McEwen said, "Exactly the same recovery algorithms as those to be developed for radio astronomy will be used for neuroimaging: instead of imaging the stars and galaxies in the Universe, we will reconstruct structural neuronal connectivity in the brain."

The project awarded comes in the context of a larger initiative of the investigators for ‘compressive imaging in astronomy and medicine’. The team has worldwide recognized expertise in the field.

For more information please see the article that appeared in 'The Conversation'.

Major Grant for ISSS

Dr Mathini Sellathurai has secured funding from EPSRC (£280,000) to develop signal processing techniques for large scale antenna systems using compact ESPAR antennas. This project will investigate the deployment of Large Scale Antenna Systems for 5G wireless systems and beyond and a key aim of the project is reducing the CO2 emissions in wireless communications in line with the EPSRC subtheme on Energy Efficiency. Other important benefits include the improved ability of wireless networks to support more users with better quality of service and cheaper devices – expecting numerous financial, societal and healthcare benefits and the project also attracted in-kind support from Bell-Labs, Alcatel Lucent, New Jersey, USA.

Dr Sellathurai has been appointed as one of the 30 members of the IEEE Signal Processing for Communications and Networking technical committee (IEEE SPCOM technical committee) for the 2014-2016 term. IEEE SPCOM technical committee is responsible for promoting IEEE Signal Processing Society activities within its area of technical interest and for making nominations in the IEEE Signal Processing Society awards process.

ISSS Research Fellow Wins Award

Yoann Altmann, Research fellow working with Prof. Steve McLaughlin and Prof. Andrew Wallace at the ISSS, has been awarded a "Prix de These Leopold Escande", from the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse (INPT), France. Yoann has received this award honouring outstanding PhD theses for his research work on nonlinear spectral unmixing of hyperspectral images and its significant contribution to the remote sensing community

Title: CDT in Embedded Intelligence research topic awarded best paper award at the International Conference IMPACT-EMAP in Taiwan.

Dr. Giuseppe Schiavone, second from the left in the photograph, was awarded best paper award at the lMPACT-EMAP 2014 Conference held in Tapei, Taiwan, on the 24th of October 2014. The conference is one of the most important events in Asia in the field of Microsystems, Electronic Materials and Packaging. The $3,000 cash price rewarded the work carried out by the team led by Prof. Desmulliez, Director the Microsystems Engineering Centre at Heriot-Watt University, for the development of an electroplating process for Galfenol, an alloy of Gallium and Iron, which has remarkable magnetostrictive properties. Only three research groups in the world have managed to electroplate such an alloy. Devices made of Galfenol offer interesting energy harvesting as well as communication properties. The work is to be continued through the Company Renishaw in the context of a fully funded PhD studentship under the CDT in Embedded Intelligence.

ISSS Engagement

The Beltane Network won funding from Horizon 2020 which allowed them to host a series of public events across the city as part of European Researchers night. 300 cities across Europe were involved in this initiative which took place at Dynamic Earth on Friday 26th September. Researchers from Oceans Lab took part in ‘Meet the experts’ as a way of sharing our research with members of the public.

EngD Student Wins Award

Tom Jones, EngD student working with Prof. Marc Desmulliez at the ISSS, won a prestigious award and a £250 cash prize, from the Institute of Circuit Technology (ICT). The competition wow open to all young persons under the age of 30 for the best research article related to Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufacture.

Tom, who works in collaboration with the PCB company Merlin Circuit Technology Ltd, wrote the article entitled "Implementing a new surface pre-treatment process in the PCB industry using ultrasonic agitation". The paper stated some of the issues encountered in attempting to instigate a new manufacturing technology relevant to Merlin. The article is to be published in one of the ICT journals

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is a joint venture by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. It involves two main elements, the Robotarium, a state-of-the-art equipment facility for research and knowledge exchange and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems. In total, the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is supported by over 40 industrial partners.

The Centre will be working in crucial market sectors including oil and gas, defence, renewable energy, healthcare, assisted living, transport, space, automotive, manufacturing, nuclear, digital media and education.

The launch event today will include a keynote lecture by Professor Andrew Blake, Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research, who will be speaking on the history of robotics development at Edinburgh-based universities and the challenges and opportunities facing the new Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.

Professor David Lane, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, said, "Robots acting independently of human control, robots which can learn, adapt and take decisions, will revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years.

"They will work for us, beside us, assist us and interact with us. It is estimated that by 2025 such advanced robotic and autonomous systems could have a worldwide economic impact of $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion annually, with an emerging market value €15.5Billion.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, co-Director of the Centre and Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh, added that "The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics aims to help the country realise its industrial potential in this revolution by producing a new generation of highly skilled researchers, trained to take a leading role, technically skilled, industry and market aware, and prepared to create and lead the UK’s innovation pipeline for jobs and growth."

Professor Philip Nelson FREng, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said, "By supporting the training of new academic talent and providing the right environment and tools needed to drive progress in this exciting field, EPSRC, and our industrial partners, are helping Robotics and Autonomous Systems to flourish and deliver the benefits it promises as one of the eight great technologies."

Commenting Universities and Science Minister Greg Clark said, "Fantastic centres like this show how our world-class universities are helping to secure economic growth.

"The Government funding will help bridge the gap between research and production. Not only does this help keep Britain at the forefront of international research, but it lays the foundations for high-tech job creation across the UK."

Also see the article in The Herald Scotland, Aye robot: Edinburgh to lead world with 'sensitised' robot research centre

Heriot-Watt Academic is Royal Society University Research Fellow

A Heriot-Watt academic has been named in the list of University Research Fellows (URFs) for 2014.

Dr Kartic Subr is one of 43 new URFs who will take their posts at institutions across the UK from October. The Royal Society say their University Research Fellowship scheme aims to provide outstanding scientists, who have the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields, with the opportunity to build an independent research career. The scheme is extremely competitive and URFs are expected to be strong candidates for permanent posts in universities at the end of their fellowships.

Dr Subr, Associate Professor in the Institute of Sensors, Signals & Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, was made a fellow for his work in Interactive-View Imaging of Dynamic Events (IVIDE).

The Royal Society aims to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Heriot-Watt team shortlisted in Converge Challenge

A Heriot-Watt team, DiverSense Ltd, has made it through to the final of the Converge Challenge, Scotland’s biggest academic entrepreneurial showcase competition, taking place later this month.

The competition is open to students and staff of any Scottish university, giving them a chance to develop the commercial potential of their inventions. DiverSense Ltd, Led, offers a sensor system for composition analysis and quality control in three primary markets: food, oil & gas and chemical industries.

They will be facing stiff competition from teams from Dundee, St Andrews and Edinburgh universities and two teams from Strathclyde, all shortlisted from 111 entrants from across Scotland.

Professor Marc Desmulliez, Chief Technology Officer of DiverSense, said "We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious competition, especially given the quality of entry it attracts. Our product allows for inline monitoring during the production process, ensuring continuous quality assurance without interrupting production. It also provides improved sensitivity compared with existing systems, and we believe it stands a good chance against the other Converge finalists and will go on to make an impact in the market."

Dr Olga Kozlova, director of Converge Challenge, said, "Invention and a strong ‘can do’ attitude have prevailed across our Universities down the years which reinforces the message that we remain a strong country full of entrepreneurial flair and vision for ideas creation, all actively encouraged by our universities.

"The Converge Challenge programme represents an opportunity for Scotland's students and researchers to develop their knowledge and commercial skills, but it is the growth that this national competition has enjoyed over the past five years that is so rewarding.

It's only when you look around the world and you see what other universities are doing to encourage a consistent flow of academic entrepreneurs that you realise Scotland can be proud of its achievements."

Success for Electrical Engineering in NSS results 2014

This year Electrical Engineering has come out 1st in the UK based on the overall satisfaction score with 100% of respondents were satisfied overall with their course. This follows on from the success of winning the NMI department of the year.

Planes, trains and mobiles: Broadband from space while we're on the move

Researchers at Heriot-Watt university are designing new technology to allow the use of high-speed broadband from orbit while we are on the move. The team, led by Professor George Goussetis, has been awarded one million euros in EU funding to develop terminals to connect to a new generation of satellites. The system will be for use on planes, trains and other fast-moving platforms. Working with Europe's largest space company, Airbus Defence and Space, the DORADA project is developing new radio technologies for broadband millimetre wave satellite communication systems.

The full article is available on the BBC website

ISSS welcomes Associate Professor Kartic Subr

Kartic Subr is an Associate Professor at ISSS. Kartic obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Computer Science in 2001 (PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore), MS in Visual Computing (2005) and PhD in Computer Science in 2008 (University of California, Irvine). During his PhD, he acquired internships at Rhythm & Hues Studios (Los Angeles), NVIDA Corporation (Santa Clara) and as an instructor at Columbia University (New York). Kartic later held post-doctoral positions at INRIA-Grenoble (2008-2010) and Walt Disney Research (2013-2014). He received a Newton International Fellowship from the Royal Society and Royal Academy in 2011 and was an honorary research associate at University College London (2011-2013).

His research concerns the design, analysis and applications of specialised stochastic sampling strategies for Monte Carlo integration as well as high-fidelity signal reconstruction. He particularly focuses on problems where the underlying signals are defined on high-dimensional domains, and are discontinuous and non-stationary.

Kartic can be contacted by email:

Funding news for ISSS

Dr. David Flynn has secured funding from the EPSRC Centre of Power Electronics (£70,000) and IeMRC (£35,000) to perform a feasibility study into solutions for the structural and functional integration of Silicon Carbide (SiC) power electronic devices into bespoke ceramic packages for deployment in harsh environments.This research will address the key integration challenges that are inhibiting the adoption of wideband gap power electronics into high value, harsh environment applications. This research is supported by Loughborough University, Dr. Robert Kay, and five industrial partners, including Baker Hughes, MacTaggart Scott Ltd, Morgan Technical Ceramics, Eltek Semiconductors and Raytheon Systems Ltd. An innovative assembly and packaging process will be created that is based on the incorporation of SiC power devices utilising Solid Liquid Inter Diffusion (SLID) interconnects, within ceramic substrates that have been produced using Additive Manufacturing (AM). The industrial consortium is providing an additional funding contribution of £29,000 to the feasibility study.

UK sitting on robotics goldmine

Heriot-Watt’s Professor David Lane joined Universities and Science Minister David Willets and other colleagues to launch a UK strategy for stimulating growth in robotics and autonomous systems (RAS).

The strategy calls for action to improve the business prospects of the nation’s world-leading technical capabilities, in light of mounting competition from countries such as Japan, Korea and the United States.

Current estimates indicate that the market for RAS products and technology, in non-military sectors, will be in the order of £70Bn by 2025.

An engine of growth

A key recommendation of the strategy is to develop existing UK assets, such as decommissioned nuclear sites, farms, factories, mines and whole towns, for use as valuable robotics test beds. For example, identifying farm sites to test the deployment of autonomous crop management systems, and equipping mobility-friendly towns to safely test driverless cars on real roads. Combined with a flexible regulatory framework, this would present a unique opportunity to attract robotics developers and investors from around the world.

David Willetts said, "Robots have often been positioned as a thing of the future, but this strategy launch emphasises the fact that they are very much of the here and now. Technologies that have traditionally been the preserve of science fiction are becoming increasingly commonplace, from robotic limbs through to driverless cars.

"Britain has a wealth of expertise in robotics and autonomous systems that is why it has been identified as one of our eight great technologies. This strategy provides an ambitious guide for how the UK can build the foundations for a thriving robotics industry that can become an engine of growth."

Professor Lane, Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering at Heriot-Watt’s Ocean Systems Laboratory, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems special Interest Group, said, "The UK is a substantial contributor to some of the world's best research in the field of robotics and autonomous systems, but countries such as Japan, Korea and the USA have had greater success in developing companies to exploit those opportunities. We need to provide a business environment in the UK that is geared towards helping robotic and autonomous technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace.

"The UK has an exceptional heritage in many of the industries where robotics can be most useful, and our world-leading research base makes us ideally placed to exploit the opportunities arising in these fields, but we need to act quickly if we don’t want to be left behind. With the right course of action, we believe the UK could achieve 10% of the global market share by 2025."

For further information on the new strategy visit:

Flexi device set to smooth waters in birthing process

Pregnant women and midwives could benefit from a new tool designed to make water births safer and easier. Researchers have invented an illuminated, adjustable mirror that can be used under water when a baby is being born. The device is the first of its kind and has been developed by a team from the University of Edinburgh and Loughborough and Heriot-Watt universities. The mirror has been developed with midwives at NHS Lothian Birth Centre in Edinburgh, and engineers and product designers at Heriot Watt University and Loughborough University.It is funded by the Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation, Tommy’s and the University of Edinburgh and has been supported by Edinburgh BioQuarter.

COST Action ic1301 WiPE

The microwave and antenna engineering research cluster of MISEC, Institute of Sensors Signals and Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, was selected to host the inaugural working group and management committee meeting of COST Action ic1301 WiPE: Wireless Power Transmission for Sustainable Electronics. The Action brings together 37 academic institutions and 7 industrial partners from 27 different countries, forming the core of a globally leading EU-based community in the field of wireless power transmission that delivers strategies tailored for battery-less systems, battery-free sensors, passive RFID, Near Field Communications (NFC) and fosters the Internet of Things. The meeting took place in the Edinburgh campus of Heriot-Watt University during 24-25 March. The program and more details can be found here

International Congress on Photodynamic Applications (ICPA)

Dr. David Flynn and Dr. Filipe Vilela have been invited to attend the International Congress on Photodynamic Applications (ICPA), to be held in Dundee this year. They will deliver a talk based on the material science of functionalised polymers for novel Photodynamic Therapies (PDT). PDT can be used to treat some cancers or conditions that may develop into a cancer if not treated (pre-cancerous conditions). It’s traditionally used when the affected area, or the cancer, is on or near the lining of internal organs. This is usually with cancers or conditions that affect the gullet, head and neck, lung, mouth and skin (but not melanoma). Today, researchers are still trying to identify the types of cancer PDT is most effective for; the potential of integrating photodynamic polymers into smart microsystems is to enable highly targeted PDT.

leMRC research activities

Dr. David Flynn and Dr. Robert Kay (Loughborough University), have recevied a grant award of £30,000, under the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC) Broadening and/or deepening of the IeMRC research activities, funding call. This funding has been awarded to the ongoing project between heriot-watt university and Loughborough to investigate the design and development of manufacturing processes for the deployment of sensors in harsh environments. The industrial consortium consists of; Baker Hughes, Torishima Service Solutions Europe, MacTaggart Scott Ltd, Zettlex Ltd, Renishaw and Morgan Technical Ceramics."

Dr George Goussetis appointed Associate Editor for the IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation

Dr. George Goussetis, reader on microwave and antenna engineering with ISSS, has been appointed as Associate Editor for the IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters for 2014-15. The journal, with impact factor of 1.7, is the edition of the IEEE Antenna and Propagation Society serving rapid-dissemination publication containing short manuscripts on new research results and technical developments in the areas of antennas and wireless propagation.

NMI University Department of the Year Award

The Research Institute of Signals, Sensors and Systems in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences has won the University Electronics Department of the Year at the NMI Electronic Systems Awards at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, London.

The category seeks to highlight university electronics departments that best demonstrate excellent liaison and partnership with industry. Judges place a particular emphasis on world-class electronics systems research with a strength in depth and evidence of a strong skills and knowledge transfer record with industry that turns ideas into economic benefit.

The category,sponsored by Raytheon, was presented by the company’s Brooke Hoskins and NMI’s CEO, Derek Boyd.

Speaking at the event Derek Boyd, CEO of UK electronics trade organisation NMI, said: "The institute demonstrated world-class R&D in microsystems and system integration. It has built strong and trusted relationships with key electronics systems companies, with many collaborations and projects leading to commercial success."

Heriot-Watt former MEng student appears on Dragon's Den

Nazish Aslam, a graduate of Heriot-Watt, has appeared on Dragon's Den in relation to her venture ForWhereiAM. Please click on the link below for more information:

Royal Academy of Engineering Award for Dr Donald Reay

Donald Reay, lecturer in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment to work with Cambridge firm ARM Holdings Ltd.

ARM is the world's leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier. Its designs are manufactured under license by some of the most successful semiconductor and systems companies in the world. To date, over 20 billion ARM-based chips have shipped.

The Royal Academy of Engineering's Industrial Secondment Scheme provides an opportunity for teaching staff in Higher Education Institutions to work on a collaborative project with industry, gaining up to date knowledge and first-hand experience of current industry working practices, and enabling them to improve the quality and industrial relevance of their teaching. The scheme also provides an opportunity for the establishment of research collaboration between industry and academia. The scheme will cover Donald's salary for the duration of the secondment.

Donald will work for six months adapting his work on hands-on digital signal processing teaching to use the ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller, developing software, hardware, and teaching materials for the ARM University Programme.

Bots in Rocks

Dr. David Flynn (ISSS) and Dr. Helen Lewis (IPE) have secured funding for a PhD research project, Bots in Rocks. This project will design and develop both a new in-rock sensor technology and an innovative deformation tracking sensor system. These advances will significantly increase the quality and quantity of descriptors for quantification of petroleum reservoir rock deformation and of fluid flow responses; both are crucial to inform efficient and economic hydrocarbon reservoir production. The "bots" will be used in the laboratory under realistic subsurface conditions. The data will directly (for rocks studied) and indirectly (through better scientific knowledge) upgrade the basic building blocks of hydrocarbon reservoir management. This project is supported by £75,000 of funding provide through the Energy Training Partnership and Maerks Oil North Sea UK Limited

Universities and Science Minister visits Heriot-Watt Robot laboratories

A unique £7.2m partnership researching the future of robotics was the focus of a visit by Universities and Science Minister the Rt Hon David Willets MP to Heriot-Watt University.

ROBOTARIUM is a new cutting edge facility run by EDU-RAS, a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh and incorporates 50 world-leading investigators from 16 cross disciplinary research groups plus 30 industrial partners.

The multi-disciplinary team assembles world-leading expertise including robotics, vision, perception, cognition, human-interaction, artificial intelligence, micro and nano-systems, soft embodiment, bio-inspiration, neural computation, dependable systems and multi-core computing, with the aim of producing robots which can act independently of human control.

It is estimated that by 2025 such advanced robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) could have a worldwide economic impact of $1.7 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year, with enormous impact in sectors including oil and gas, defence, renewable energy, healthcare, assisted living, transport, space automotive, manufacturing, nuclear, digital media and education.

During his visit the Minister was shown the alliance of strengths in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities and the creation of an international centre of excellence producing 'innovation-ready' technology and graduates, as well as how the ROBOTARIUM £6m capital equipment award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) forms part of the plans, along with over a million pounds of funding from industry.

Universities and Science Minister David Willets said, "By backing new technologies and giving people the skills they need to succeed, collaborations between universities and business will maintain the UK’s world class science and research base, ensuring the UK stays ahead in the global race. As one of the eight great technologies, robotics and autonomous systems has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we do business across a range of sectors including space, manufacturing, renewable energy and transport systems."

Professor David M Lane, Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt , said, "Robots which can act in partnership with humans, that can learn, interact and take decisions, will revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years."

"We are working to help the UK realise its industrial potential in this revolution, by producing a new generation of ‘innovation-ready’ postgraduate researchers who are both technically skilled and market aware, fully prepared to lead UK innovation in this exciting and challenging field."

During his visit the Minister visited Heriot-Watt's Ocean Systems laboratory, which innovates, applies and teaches world class advances in autonomous systems, sensor modelling/processing, and underwater acoustic system theory/design for offshore, marine science, renewable energy and security applications. He saw autonomous underwater vehicles in action and had a chance to pilot a remotely operated vehicle under water.

New book: Hermeticity of MEMS and Microelectronic Packages

A new book was produced by Prof. Marc Desmulliez and Dr Suzanne Costello, which is the result of the EngD work carried out by Suzanne.

The work concentrates on hermeticity tests for micropackages and MEMS devices.

New Erasmus Mundus Funded Programme to be co-ordinated by Heriot-Watt

The School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) has received around £3.5M of funding from the EU Commission under the Erasmus Mundus scheme for a new two year International Masters in Smart Systems Integration (SSI). The prestigious and extremely competitive programme will involve three universities namely, Heriot Watt (HW) the lead Institution, Vestfold University College (HiVe) in Norway and Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary (BME). The SSI is the only new Masters programme to be funded and coordinated by a Scottish University and there are only 3 newly funded which are being coordinated by British Universities. The new programme will commence in September 2013 and will provide fully funded scholarships for high calibre international students and partially funded scholarships for EU students. Out of 258 applications this year, 18 students from 15 different countries will receive support from the European commission with an additional 3 to 4 self-funded students joining the programme. Strong support for collaboration with dissertation projects has been received from ten companies located in the three partner countries. The funding, of the order of 700,000 to 750,000 Euros per year for a period of five years, will be co-ordinated by Dr Resham Dhariwal who is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS).

The students will commence their studies in semester 1 at Heriot Watt and then go to Norway to study at Vestfold for semester 2. Semester 3 studies in the second year will take place in Hungary at Budapest after which the students will be approximately divided into 3 groups to undertake a project and submit the MSc dissertation. A joint degree will be awarded at the Heriot Watt University degree congregations to successful candidates. This is the second Erasmus Mundus Master obtained by the ISSS.

Are Robots the Future of Offshore?

Discussing the future of the offshore sector at NorShipping's Agenda Offshore conference in Oslo on 5 June, a common theme was that of increasing automation and remote operation of vessels.

Professor David Lane from Heriot-Watt University said, "there are autonomous vehicles being used today in the oilfield for inspection and soon they'll be used for repair and maintenance."

"Business plans of companies sitting in this room within five years will have autonomous platforms and vehicles that are doing manipulation in the ocean."

The consensus of the panel was that the technology was already available for remote operation of vessels and increased automation, even on the drilling side.

"We did remote drilling in '94… the technology is there, the challenge is the people and the mindset of the people," explained Hege Kverneland, cto and corporate vice president at National Oilwell Varco.

"People need to be ready to adopt it, and rather than taking it in one big step, it comes as a series of baby steps and I believe we're on the way," added Lane.

When asked If automation increases or mitigates risk, Lane's stance was clear, "I think it takes away risk, that's part of the point of doing it."

"The dynamics of the vessel market will change as we have more automation on the sea bed," he continued. "It'll make individual vessels more productive…but we will always need ships as the whole ocean space develops, and what's interesting to see is - how will that be tensioned by the need for less ships as we have more automation?"

New Erasmus Mundus Funded Programme to be Co-ordinated by Heriot Watt

The School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) has received around £3.5M of funding from the EU Commission under the Erasmus Mundus scheme for a new two year International Masters in Smart Systems Integration (SSI). The prestigious and extremely competitive programme will involve three universities namely, Heriot Watt (HW) the lead Institution, Vestfold University College (HiVe) in Norway and Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary (BME). The SSI is the only new Masters programme to be funded and coordinated by a Scottish University and there are only 3 newly funded which are being coordinated by British Universities.

The new programme will commence in September 2013 and will provide fully funded scholarships for high calibre international students and partially funded scholarships for EU students. Out of 258 applications this year, 18 students from 15 different countries will receive support from the European commission with an additional 3 to 4 self-funded students joining the programme. Strong support for collaboration with dissertation projects has been received from ten companies located in the three partner countries. The funding, of the order of 700,000 to 750,000 Euros per year for a period of five years, will be co-ordinated by Dr Resham Dhariwal who is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems (ISSS).

The students will commence their studies in semester 1 at Heriot Watt and then go to Norway to study at Vestfold for semester 2. Semester 3 studies in the second year will take place in Hungary at Budapest after which the students will be approximately divided into 3 groups to undertake a project and submit the MSc dissertation. A joint degree will be awarded at the Heriot Watt University degree congregations to successful candidates. This is the second Erasmus Mundus Master obtained by the ISSS.

Marie Curie initial Training Network Success

April 2013:

The Ocean Systems Laboratory has further extended it's engagement with international research and industrial engagement at the European level through successful winning of the £3.6M Euro ROBOCADEMY Marie Curie Initial Training Network. Working with 16 other research institutes and companies across Europe, the network will provide training and PhD research for a cohort of 13 Early Stage Researchers in aspects of subsea robotics and autonomous vehicles.

The partnerships comprises:






Robotics Innovation Center (RIC)





Heriot-Watt University

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences





Tallinn Technical University

Center for Robotics





Universidad de Girona

Computer Vision & Robotics





University of Southampton

National Oceanographic Center NOC





Centre for Maritime Research & Experimentation

Systems Tech. Dept.





National Technical University of Athens

Mechanical Design & Control Systems Division





Atlas Elektronik GmbH

PTF – Applied Research





SeeByte Ltd.

Engineering Dept.





BAE Systems

Advanced Technology Center (ATC)





Graal Tech

Research & Development





Alfred Wegener Institut für Polarforschung

Deep Sea Ecology and Technology

Geochemistry Dept.





Centre Tecnologic de Vilanova i la Geltru

Tech. Develop. Ctr. Remote Acquisition and Data Processing





Subsea7 Ltd.

Life of Field Service





Marine Systems Insitute






BP Exploration Operating Co Ltd

Subsea & Floating Systems

The laboratory already leads the FP7 ICT Challenge 2 Project, PANDORA ( and participates in EURATHLON robot challenge ( and the FP7 Environment archeological programme ARROWS It completed the FP7 Challenge 2 Project TRIDENT in March 2013.

Project Summary:

The Robocademy ITN will establish a European training and research network to develop key skills and enabling technologies in underwater robotics for the scientific and economic exploration of the oceans (e.g. offshore oilfield of the future). Through the close collaboration of leading research institutes, academia, industry, and SMEs in robotics, marine technology, marine science, and offshore industry, Robocademy will provide first-class training and research opportunities for ESRs. In well-defined and well-tutored PhD research projects, the Robocademy fellows will push the state-of-the-art in the area of robust, reliable and autonomous underwater robots. Specialized scientific training modules will enable the fellows to obtain both a sound basis in robotics and an introduction to topics that are specific to their research areas. This will be complemented by a high-quality soft-skills training programme for and the opportunity to gain extensive on-site hands-on experience through secondments to maritime industry and oceanographic research institutes.

Thus Robocademy will foster the formation of young professionals that are able to meet the urgent demand for highlyqualified researchers and engineers in the growing field of underwater systems and robotics. For the European industry and scientific community, such specialists are crucial gain ground against competitors from North America and Asia. For the ESRs, the Robocademy training will open up excellent career opportunities in both academia and industry.

New Appointments for Professor David M Lane


euRobotics aisbl

March 2013 – Present (Brussels Area, Belgium)

euRobotics aisbl (Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif) is a Brussels based international non-profit association for all stakeholders in European robotics. euRobotics builds upon the success of the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP) and the academic network of EURON, and will not only continue the cooperation but will also strengthen the bond between members of these two community driven organisations. Thus, leading towards the establishment of only one sustainable organisation for the European robotics community as a whole.

One of the association’s main missions is to collaborate with the European Commission (EC) to develop and implement a strategy and a roadmap for research, technological development and innovation in robotics, in view of the launch of the next framework program Horizon 2020. Towards this end, euRobotics aisbl was formed to engage from the private side in a contractual Public-Private Partnership with the European Union as the public side.


UK Special Interest Group: Robotics and Autonomous Systems

January 2013 – Present

Chair of the UK Industry Lead Special Interest Group (SIG) on Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), set up and reporting to Rt Hon David Willets MP, UK Minister of State for Universities and Science. Develops and advises UK Govt on strategy and business case building cross sector RAS innovation pipeline.

Second Major Award in Medical Device Engineering

Prof. Marc Desmulliez, Director of the Research Institute of Signals, Sensors & Systems, has recently been awarded a £5M EPSRC funded programme grant led by Prof. Sandy Cochran from the University of Dundee, with Prof. David Cummins, from the University of Glasgow as co-investigator.

The project, called Sonopill, aims to explore ultrasound imaging and therapeutic capabilities deployed in capsule format that is to be digested by the patient. This work is to be supported by extensive pre-clinical work to demonstrate the complementary nature of ultrasound and visual imaging, along with studies of multimodal diagnosis and therapy, and of mechanisms to control the motion of the Sonopill as it travels through the GI tract.

This brings challenges and opportunities in areas including ultrasound device and systems design, microengineering and microelectronic packaging, auonomous capsule positioning, sensor suites for diagnosis and intervention, and routes to translation into clinical practice.

The project is to start early July and is a direct consequence of the IsPUD project financed by the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University.

Dr. David Flynn has secured £130,499 of funding from Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), to lead an 8 month project on the Design for Reliability of Subsea Power Cables. This project represents additional funding to Dr. Flynn's team for their successful completion of the £194,000 Phase 1 project in February this year. This new project will begin in April 2013 and will develop a new industrial standard for subsea power cables, and provide SSE with a novel tool enabling design for reliability and remaining useful life of subsea power cables. Heriot-Watt University will be leading this project in collaboration with Prof. Christopher Bailey of the University of Greenwich.

Researchers at ISSS have been selected by the European Space Agency to develop antenna technology for future communication satellite missions. The team, led by Dr. George Goussetis, will investigate dual-optics circular polarisation antenna technology that can ultimately provide substantial increase in data throughput and number of people able to access the internet around the world. The project of total value €350,000, is in collaboration with Thales Alenia Space France.

Prof. Marc Desmulliez, Head of the ISSS, was recently awarded an EPSRC-funded grant of total value of £919,694 under the EPSRC Healthcare Technology Challenge for Engineering. The project called USIN, 'Ultrasound in a needle: minimally invasive high resolution imaging for neurosurgery', aims to design, manufacture, assemble and test an ultrasound imaging system for detection of tumours in the brain. The 18 month project is due to start in July 2013.

Prof. Desmulliez, CI of the project, in collaboration with Prof. Sandy Cochrane (PI) from Dundee University and Prof. Tim Button (CI) from the University of Birmingham, previously developed under the IsPUD project funded by the Innovative manufacturing, assembly and packaging technologies necessary to miniaturise this transducer.

The companies Applied Functional Material Ltd and Merlin Circuit Technology Ltd are involved in the project.

Dr. David Flynn of Heriot-Watt University has been awarded, £176,481, from the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC) in collaboration with Loughborough University, Dr. Robert Kay, total award value £366,270, to investigate the design and development of manufacturing processes for the deployment of sensors in harsh environments. The project is receiving additional support from an industrial consortium consisting of; Baker Hughes, Torishima Service Solutions Europe, MacTaggart Scott Ltd, Zettlex Ltd, Renishaw and Morgan Technical Ceramics.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) has awarded £197,658 between Heriot Watt University and Siemens Transmission and Distribution Limited. The project is entitled 'Next generation of condition monitoring systems for assets on the grid' and will be led by Dr David Flynn (PI) and Dr Jonathon Swingler (CI).


has awarded a small equipment grant of £89,000 to ECR researchers within ISSS from the £500,000 ESPRC grant award, and will be overseen by Dr Flynn (PI) and Dr Neil Roberston (CI).

Scottish and Southern Energy awarded a small equipment grant of £10,500, Dr Flynn is PI.


solutions for Non Invasive Prenatal Diagnostics

It is a pleasure to announce that Dr. Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas, Research Associate at the Microsystems Engineering Centre (MISEC), has been awarded a Research Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Her programme of research will concentrate on providing microfluidic solutions for Non Invasive Prenatal Diagnostics (NIPD). The central theme of her research will be to design manufacture and test lab-on-chip systems that will receive a few millilitres of blood from a pregnant mother, sample it, enrich it and analyse it to diagnose pathological conditions of the foetus, through the characterisation of the foetal DNA that has leaked in the blood of the mother.

To carry out her research, Dr. Kersaudy-Kerhoas will join the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt in January 2013.

Smart Systems Integration - a new international MSc programme

From September 2013 onwards, the institute will host two Erasmus Mundus programmes for MSc. students. The first programme in Vision, Image & Robotics (Vibot) has been running successfully over many years and our new programme in Smart Systems Integration (SSI) will start in September 2013 and is led by Dr. Resham Dhariwal.

The EEC has awarded Dr. Dhariwal between £1.5M and £2M towards the management and running of the programme in collaboration with the Microsystems Engineering Centre at Heriot-Watt University, Vestfold University College (Norway) and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (Hungary).

The programme is for 5 years and between 10 to 20 students/year from all over the world are expected to enrol for this MSc.

Election to Royal Academy of Engineering

Congratulations to Professor David Lane, a member of the Research Institute, who has been elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

For more information please refer to news about Heriot-Watt elections to Royal Academy of Engineering

Royal Academy of Engineering Award

The Royal Academy of Engineering has recently agreed to fund Industrial Secondment Awards to Professor Marc Desmulliez of EECE. The highly competitive Industrial Secondment Award aims to provide academic members of staff a significant industrial experience within a company. The funding by the Academy must be used to recruit a staff that will cover the teaching load of the academic during his secondment.

Professor Desmulliez will spend six months at SSTRIC Ltd, a Company specialised in silicon micromachining at Edinburgh. The Company is within the University of Edinburgh and provides state of the art silicon-based microsystem fabrication facilities. Marc will use his experience in 3D manufacturing to manufacture prototypes from companies which are customers of SSTRIC. He will use his experience to provide new course materials for an undergraduate module in Microsystems manufacturing and the MREs in Microsystems Engineering.

Bursary Award for Heriot-Watt EECE Student

Alex Hay an electrical engineering student at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has been awarded a Mott MacDonald Charitable Trust Bursary of £1500 to provide financial support during his final year of study for his M.Eng. degree. Alex is seen being congratulated by Peter Black, the Managing Director of Mott MacDonald’s Global Transmission and Distribution Division after a recent staff briefing in Glasgow. Alex from Montrose in Angus hopes to join Mott MacDonald’s power systems analysis team post graduation in Summer 2011.


MacDonald is a global engineering consultancy company with 14,000+ staff working from more than 200 offices in 140 countries world wide. The Transmission and Distribution Division has offices in the UK in Brighton, Glasgow and York, with offices overseas in the USA, Holland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, India, China and South Africa.

Most Cited Paper in Journal "Graphical Models" - Award to Dr Belyaev

Alex Belyaev, Reader in Signal and Image Processing in EECE produced the top-cited article in the International Journal Graphical Models. The award covers the period 2005-10. The joint publication with Y.Ohtake and H-P. Seidel is titled "3-D scattered data interpolation and approximation with multilevel compactly supported RBFs".

Best Paper Award at IEEE Globecom 2010

Dr Cheng-Xiang Wang, Reader in Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, will receive a "Best Paper Award" in IEEE Global Communications Conference 2010 (Globecom'10) in Miami, Dec. 2010. Globecom is the IEEE flagship conference in Telecommunications. Out of 3688 paper submissions 11 papers were selected for the best paper awards (top 0.3%).

Dr Wang's method can greatly improve the prediction accuracy and represents a very promising solution to wireless network management problem. The paper, "A New Hybrid Network Traffic Prediction Method", proposes a new network traffic prediction method combining the covariation orthogonal prediction criterion and the idea of artificial neural network prediction to predict the bursty and self-similar wireless network traffic.

The paper is joint work with the research group of the visiting professor Xiaohu Ge from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, as part of the outcomes of the UK-China Science Bridges Project: R&D on (B)4G Wireless Mobile Communications.