News 2010

Jon Timmis wins Prestigious Wolfson Research Merit Award

December 2010: Professor Jon Timmis of the University of York has been awarded one of the thirty annual Wolfson Research Merit Awards, given each year to "respected scientists of outstanding achievement and potential" in any area of the life and physical sciences including engineering.

Jon's work proposes to bring together three areas: swarm robotics, immunology and computational modelling. He aims to develop immune-inspired engineering solutions to identify individual and collectively failing robots, diagnose what is wrong, and then take corrective action to help alleviate the failure. An exciting aspect of this work is that benefits will not only be seen in swarm robotics but also in immunology. Two important areas of immunology will be examined: regulatory networks involved in the spontaneous recovery from a mouse disease equivalent to multiple sclerosis, and the formation of protective structures called granulomas which are created by a complex process in the immune system to control the spread of various diseases, such as Leishmania. These models will then be used to help derive immune-inspired solutions for the self-healing process in swarm robotic systems.

Yorkshire to get New High-Resolution Lithography System

December 2010: As a result of a £2.7 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), one of the highest resolution electron-beam lithography systems in Europe will soon be available to York academics and research students.

The instrument will be supplied by world-leading electron microscope manufacturer JEOL, and will be shared by the Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield. It will be capable of fabricating electronic and spintronic structures with less than 10 nm resolution. Dr Atsufumi Hirohata of York was part of the team that led the successful bid, and will be using the instrument to make multiple-process spintronic devices that will essentially be a full spintronic computer on a single chip.

York Academics Contribute to Prize-Winning Microelectronics Project

November 2010: At the recent National Microelectronics Institute awards dinner, the UK e-Science pilot project Meeting the Design Challenges of Nano-CMOS Electronics and Gold Standard Simulations Ltd (GSS), a spin-out company from the project, were awarded the prestigious R & D Achievement Award recognising the importance of the project to UK industry. The project addresses the challenges facing the semiconductor industry caused by the decreasing dimensions of CMOS transistors, and the resultant variability in performance of individual devices. Coping with this variability has been identified by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) as one of the major challenges facing the semiconductor industry.

As part of this project, Professor Andy Tyrrell and members of the Intelligent Systems Group in the Department of Electronics at York developed a technology modelling framework, called MOTIVATED, which uses novel biologically inspired algorithms in conjunction with statistical transistor simulations to automatically optimise standard cell libraries for performance (e.g. minimising delay and power consumption) and also to achieve tolerance to the effects of intrinsic variability.

Professor Andy Marvin elevated to Fellow of the IEEE

November 2010: In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of metrology techniques for electromagnetic compatibility, Professor Andy Marvin has been honoured by the IEEE Board of Directors and elevated to the grade of Fellow of the IEEE. Amongst his other appointments Professor Marvin has served as associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, vice-chairman of the IEEE Standard 299 (shielding effectiveness measurement) working group, and as vice-chair of faculty for the IEEE EMC Society Global EMC University.

IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honour and an important career achievement. 321 individuals have been elevated to IEEE Fellow for 2011.

York-Zhejiang Summer School on Cognitive Communications takes place in Zhejiang

October 2010: Academics from York, including David Grace, Paul Mitchell and Tim Clarke, have given lectures in a summer school on cognitive communications held at Zhejiang University in China. Their visit was supported by a grant of £12000 from Research Councils UK. This joint University of York - Zhejiang University initiative forms part of a strengthening collaboration between the two institutions in the field of cognitive communications, facilitated by their membership of the WUN Cognitive Communications Consortium (, a grouping of over 45 member organisations. The School will bring together 100 researchers, mainly from UK and China, with the aim of sharing knowledge, and deepening technical and cultural links.

Department of Electronics at York to Host the Europe EMC 2011 Conference

October 2010: Europe's leading EMC conference will be coming to York in 2011, after its successful running in previous years in Wroclaw, Athens, Paris, Brugge, Eindhoven, Barcelona and Rome. The conference provides an international forum for the exchange of technical information, as well as workshops, tutorials, and experimental and practical demonstrations in the field of electromagnetic compatibility. York has a long-standing reputation for excellence in this field, and an active research group led by Professor Andy Marvin.

York Electronics is Number One in the Sunday Times Subject League Table

September 2010: The Sunday Times University Guide 2011, published on the 12 September, puts the Department of Electronics at York first in its subject league table for Electronic and Electrical Engineering. The Department again scored very highly in the National Student Survey, and when combined with other measures of quality including teaching quality, research quality, student/staff ratio, employment statistics and peer assessment, this yielded our top ranking.

York Academics Contribute to Digital Audio Effects Conference

September 2010: Members of the Department's Audiolab research recently attended the 13th International Conference on Digital Audio Effects (DAFx10). The conference was hosted by The Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) at Graz in Austria. Aglaia Foteinou presented work undertaken by her and Damian Murphy, along with Anthony Masinton of the Department of Archaeology, into computer-generated auralisations of historic spaces. Jez Wells described a new approach to selectively removing amplitude and frequency change in the Fourier domain and demonstrated how this could improve cross-synthesis of audio signals. Next year's conference will be held at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris and in 2012 it will be hosted by the AudioLab, here at York.


Intelligent Systems Research Group Wins £1.1 Million Research Grant

July 2010: As integrated circuits use smaller and smaller transistors to pack more and more functionality into the same silicon area, the behaviour of the individual circuit elements becomes less predictable; and yet traditional electronic design techniques assume that circuit elements behave in an exactly predictable and consistent way. Developing new design techniques that can accommodate the unpredictable behaviour of the smallest transistors is one of the major challenges facing the design of the next generation of integrated circuits.

Prof. Tyrrell and his team are using biologically-inspired techniques to approach this problem for analogue and digital field programmable gate arrays, producing circuits that can still operate successfully even when the behaviour of individual elements within the circuits cannot be exactly predicted. The project is called PAnDa (Programmable Analogue and Digital Array) and will start in October.

York Appoints Honorary Visiting Professor in Radio Technology

July 2010: The appointment of Prof Honggang Zhang of Zhejiang University, China as an Honorary Visiting Professor to the University of York has recently been confirmed by the University's Senate. Prof Zhang has a worldwide reputation in cognitive radio, green communications and Ultra-WideBand (UWB) systems, including being the Vice Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Cognitive Networks, making his appointment of direct relevance to the Communications Research Group in the Department of Electronics. His 5-year appointment will commence formally on 1st August 2010.

Prof Zhang is also Co-Director of the York-Zhejiang Lab on Cognitive Radio and Green Communications, which was established by both universities in April. His first visit to York is planned to take place in September, where he will attend the ISWCS 2010 conference and the WUN CogCom workshop and meeting.

Times League Tables Published: Department Rises Two Places to Seventh in the UK

May 2010: In the latest annual Times Good University Guide, the department's ranking improved to seventh place in the country overall. The University of York is ranked ninth in the UK, also an improvement of two places since last year, regaining its position in the top ten. The results reflect the excellence of our teaching in particular: in terms of our student's opinion of our courses, Electronics students at York are the most satisfied in the UK with their courses and teaching.

The full leagues tables are available on-line at Times Electronics League Tables (note that a registration is required to view this site).

York helps to Organise the Audio Engineeing Society's London Convention.

May 2010: Staff and students from the Audio Lab in the Department of Electronics will make their presence felt at the forthcoming AES convention in London later this month. There will be five papers presented relating to Audio Lab research and representing collaborations with international colleagues from Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland; University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal; and the Universities of Jaén, Linares, San Antonio's Catholic University of Murcia, and the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, all in Spain.

In addition Damian Murphy from York has been on the committee co-chairing the workshop and tutorial sessions with one of the Audio Lab's ex-PhD students, Dr Michael Kelly, now working for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Matt Speed, Audio Lab PhD student and chair of the York AES Student Section has also been working as part of the convention committee, organising the student-focused events that form an important part of these regular international conventions. In addition, York AES Student members will be working at the show, providing technical support in the paper and workshop/tutorial sessions. Dr Murphy said, "This is the first time the annual European AES convention has been held in the UK in 23 years and it is really important that the Department of Electronics has a strong representation so that we can let the audio engineering world know of the research going on here in York in the Audio Lab, and about the successful Music Technology courses we run that result in our graduates becoming the next generation of audio engineers".

York Academic Judges Regional Young Enterprise Award

May 2010: The finals of the Company Programme, one of the most prestigious business competitions in Yorkshire, were held in May this year in Harrogate. To take part in this competition, teams of schoolchildren must set up and run companies for a year, and prizes are awarded for marketing, customer service, accounts and management. The overall winner was Bee-Dazzled, from Harrogate High School, who made and sold beeswax candles.

The chairman of the judging panel was Tony Ward, who leads the management and education research group in the Department of Electronics. Tony has a particular research interest in encouraging entrepreneurship in students.

Seventh IEEE Symposium on Wireless Communications Systems to be Held in York

April 2010: This year, York has been chosen as the venue for the IEEE Symposium on Wireless Communications Systems and the Department of Electronics will be acting as the host institution, welcoming visitors from around the world. The symposium attracts researchers from all areas of wireless communications, and is being co-chaired by Rodrigo de Lamere and Paul Mitchell, both members of the Communications Research Group at York.


International Conference on Evolvable Systems to be Held in York in September

April 2010: Also being held in York later this year, the ninth International Conference on Evolvable Systems (ICES 2010) is being hosted by members of the Intelligent Systems Research Group, with Gianluca Tempesti acting as general chair. ICES is the leading conference in the field of evolvable hardware and systems, and brings together researchers investigating the use of biologically-inspired concepts in hardware design. This is a rapidly-expanding research field, and one in which York has developed world-leading expertise.


Major Exhibition at the National Science Museum Promoted by Professor El-Gomati

February 2010: Professor Mohamed El-Gomati has been quoted widely by local, national and international media (including the BBC, The Times newspaper and Alarabiya) promoting a newly launched exhibition at the Science Museum in South Kensington, London. The "1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World" exhibition traces the forgotten story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world, from the 7th century onwards. The free exhibition runs from the 21 January to 25 April 2010, and looks at the social, scientific and technical achievements credited to the Muslim world, whilst celebrating the shared scientific heritage of other cultures. Featuring a diverse range of exhibits, interactive displays and dramatisation, the exhibition shows how many modern inventions, spanning fields such as engineering, medicine and design, can trace their roots back to Muslim civilisation.

1001 Inventions was created by the academic Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), of which Professor El-Gomati is a trustee and deputy Chair, with support and funding from the Jameel Foundation.

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