News 2014

Job Vacancy: Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics

December 2014: We are looking to appoint a new Lecturer in the area of Intelligent Robotics to support our continued growth in the robotics area. We are seeking applications from high quality researchers who relish an opportunity to help grow and shape this exciting area of research and teaching:

To find out more about our Robotics research please see the York Robotics Laboratory website

Prof Jon Timmis makes guest appearance on CBBC

December 2014: Prof Jon Timmis appears on this weeks Technobabble, a new CBBC series for children exploring different aspects of technology. Jon explains robotics, and how robots might be used in the future. Next viewing is CBBC Tuesday 2nd December 6:30pm or on the iPlayer

UKESF announces University of York's Robert Eynon as its 2014 Scholar of the Year

November 2014: The UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) declared Robert Eynon as its 2014 Scholar of the Year. Robert is studying for an MEng degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering at the University of York. IC Resources, the award sponsor, presented the award to the Dialog Semiconductor funded UKESF Scholar at the annual NMI electronic systems industry awards, held in London. Robert, who is currently completing his second placement with Dialog Semiconductor, has been working on verification projects for Dialog's mixed-signal ICs where he has contributed to the development of standardised processes, which will be used across the company. He has also actively supported Dialog in promoting the company to students at university career events.

Since starting his degree, Robert has designed and participated in various events to promote science and engineering to younger students in primary and secondary schools. Most significantly, he recently volunteered as a teaching assistant in a local school supporting year 9 students (13-14 years old) in science lessons on weekly basis during the spring term of his academic year.

Neil Dickins, director of the recruitment company IC Resources, commented, "We are always proud to support UKESF through this award. The work it is doing is invaluable to ensuring the future supply of talent to the electronics industry. The quality of the applicants seems to improve every year, which is testament that our universities are attracting some outstanding students into this discipline. Although a closely run contest, the judges felt that Robert should take the award this year as his work in schools makes him an exemplary role model to young people."

Rebecca Fradley-Stokes, Head of CSR, Sustainability and University Relations at Dialog Semiconductor added "Robert is a worthy winner of this award. It is fitting recognition for his achievements as both a promising young engineer and enthusiastic ambassador in attracting younger students to this industry. Whilst at Dialog, he has demonstrated his willingness and aptitude to develop and apply new skills and knowledge and has become a valuable team member. He exemplifies Dialog's commitments to school and university outreach by his commitment to younger students.

Robert is one of many excellent students that we have seen through the UKESF scholarship scheme, which is why we continue to support the UKESF programme and we look forward to our next cohort of scholars." On winning Robert commented: "Receiving this award is of great value to me, not just on a personal level but also because I can use it to demonstrate the marketability of attaining an engineering degree from a top university like York. I also want to highlight the wider benefits of volunteering in the community to support the development of younger students while at the same time honing your own transferable skills." UKESF was founded in 2010 by collaboration of public bodies, private companies and UK universities to address the threat of a diminishing skills base in the UK electronics sector. Its principal aims are to increase and sustain the supply of industry ready graduate engineers and boost career take up in an industry, which has the potential to contribute £120 billion to the UK economy and provide 1 million jobs by 2020 .

University Spin-out Business Celebrates First Major Contract

October 2014: SimOmics, a University of York spin-out business which aims to make drug design quicker and more efficient, is celebrating its launch and first major contract. The business is based on innovative computer modelling software which can help drug developers predict the effects of new drugs on autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis. Prof Jon Timmis from the Department of Electronics received an Enterprise Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering earlier this year which provided £85,000 as well as ongoing business training and mentoring to support him in commercialising the software and developing the spin-out business.

More information on this story can be found at:

More information on the company can be found at

The University of York hosts a Royal Society Industry Fellow at the AudioLab, Department of Electronics

October 2014: Artificially creating a listening experience indistinguishable from the real thing has many exciting application areas including virtual reality, music, immersive computer gaming and cinema/television. These are all recreationally motivated applications but this technology is also more directly beneficial to society - what will a new road or rail development sound like in nearby gardens and how might sound barriers alleviate the potential noise increase? How will optimal acoustic treatment improve the sound of a new school classroom, with the associated impact on the health of the voice and hearing of both teachers and children? The sound quality of our built environment is an important consideration for people's health and well-being. The World Health Organisation notes that one in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise levels at night that could significantly damage their health.

Dr Alex Southern is a senior consultant specialising in acoustic modelling and auralisation techniques at AECOM and joins the Department of Electronics AudioLab for two years under the Royal Society's Industry Fellowship Scheme where he will investigate and develop new methods for architectural and environmental sound design. This research will help to better demonstrate how exposure to excessive or unwanted sound relates to the subjective nature of the acoustic environment in which it is heard, a concept that is difficult to express using industry standard noise level criteria. This in turn will inform planners in their consideration of future buildings, cities and associated environments, through the inclusion of sound quality at the very initial design stages.

A former Masters and PhD graduate of the AudioLab at York, Dr Southern said, "I'm delighted about the award and the opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and industry. I am looking forward to the research and working and collaborating in the AudioLab once again."

Dr Damian Murphy, Reader in the AudioLab said, "It is great to welcome Alex back to the University of York, bringing with him his considerable post-doctoral and industry experience. This Royal Society Industry Fellowship is a great opportunity for us to be able to influence and improve the quality of all our lives through the virtual acoustics research taking place here at York, and the impact this will have on next-generation acoustic design."

Undergraduate Students Attend Codess Event

October 2014: On Saturday 11th October, three undergraduate students from the Department of Electronics - Viviam Reyes, Kristine Grivcova and Juliette Carter - took part in the Codess Hackathon at the Skype offices in London. ( Joining with two other young female engineers their team impressed the judges and was rewarded with second place overall.

The event was organised for women in the form of a programming competition, where teams were tasked to provide a useful and user-friendly way of visualising climate change data. Whilst most teams concentrated on building a web-app in the form of a game, our team took a very different and unique approach, by using sonification (displaying data as sound). The final product was an iOS app, which was successfully implemented and demonstrated and sonified the data for CO2 emissions, average temperature and average rainfall over the past 50 years, in three different countries around the world, which the user could choose.

Viviam says "Overall this was a fantastic and enriching experience, both in terms of improving technical skills and social network, as we got to meet women from many different backgrounds (at university or in the industry, and from many different countries).We will definitely be on the lookout for the next hackathon event!"

Extended abstract published by BEng student Georgi Hristov at world-leading robotics conference

Final year student, Georgi Hristov, has helped author an extended abstract which will be presented at the world leading International Conference on Intelligent Robotic and Systems (IROS) in Chicago. Georgi's work, part of his final year project, supervised by Prof Jon Timmis, developed a way to track swarm robots and guide them to form various structures, thus moving from a swarm system to a modular robotic system. The work has long-term potential for modular robotics work, and lays the foundations for developing new systems capable of reconfiguring into various modular shapes, depending on enviromental factors. Various videos of the work can be see on the York Robotic Lab website. Prof Timmis says "this is a major achievement for Georgi, and for an undergraduate to have an extended abstract published in such a prestigous conference, is outstanding."

 Extended abstract published by MSc students at world-leading robotics conference

Students from the MSc in Autonomous Robotics Engineering have published an extended abstract on work undertaken during the MSc at the world leading International Conference on Intelligent Robotic and Systems (IROS) in Chicago. The students have been working with a local design studio, called The Beautiful Meme, to develop an interactive robotic swarm. The swarm, using robots designed at York, reacts to sound and movement and is goig to be used by the studio as an experiment to see how people cope with working and living with interactive robotic systems. Prof Jon Timmis, programme lead for the MSc, says "This is a unique project for the students, giving them invaluable experience to work with an actual client. The fact the paper is published in such a prestigous conference is testamony to the work the students have done. We are planning to carry on the project this new academic year, so students on the MSc will benefit from the work done to date". More information on the MSc in Autonomous Robotics Engineering can be found on on this page.

Electronics undergraduate selected for international Google scholarship

Viviam Reyes, a third year undergraduate in our Department as been awarded a prestigious scholarship with Google. You can read more about Viviam's award.

York Robotics Laboratory in feature show at prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Event



Prof. Jon Timmis (Intelligent Systems Group) has presented a series of shows "What does biology have to do with robotics?" at the Royal Society Summer Science Event in London. In total over 650 pupils and teachers from many schools across the country were invited to watch the talk at the annual display of cutting-edge scientific research. The half-hour talk highlighted how biology influences robotics research with a number of demonstrations, videos and audience participation.

The Summer Science Exhibition is the premier event in The Royal Society calendar, and brings together the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology research in the UK. The event features exhibits from many UK universities and a number of public shows and talks, with a special aim of promoting scientific research to school children and the general public. Prof. Timmis, a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award holder, was invited to present the well-received shows to a number of school groups across the first three days of the event.

With help from Dr. James Hilder from York Robotics Laboratory, Prof. Timmis introduced the audience to a wide-range of research areas in robotics, encompassing swarm robotics, evolutionary algorithms, bio-mechanics and artificial immune systems. Enthusiastic question-and-answer sessions after each talk highlighted how the subject engages young people, with imaginative questions covering many topics including the potential impact of miniature swarms and medical robotics, the reality gap between real robots and those in popular science fiction, and the best ways to make a robot dance. Watch the robots in action:

The York Robotics Laboratory is jointly run between the Department of Electronics and Department of Computer Science

National Women in Engineering Day

June 2014: Undergraduate students from the Department of Electronics visited a local primary school on the very first National Women in Engineering Day (23 June 2014). Ankita Gongotra,Juliette Carter and Robyn Walker (pictured) spent the morning with pupils at Badger Hill Primary School looking different aspects of electronic engineering and exploring the variety of roles that engineers undertake. Avionics student Robyn explained the basics of aircraft design, and the pupils put their knowledge into practice by designing, making and decorating their own paper planes, finishing off with a grand paper plane flying challenge on the school field. National Women in Engineering Day was set up by the Women's Engineering Society (WES) to celebrate its 95th anniversary to focus attention on the great opportunities for women in engineering, and to encourage girls into engineering careers. Students in the Department of Electronics and Computer Science have come together to form SWEY (Society of Women Engineers in York) to support and encourage female students in what has traditionally been a male dominated discipline.

York Festival of Ideas

June 2014: A variety of academics and researchers were involved in the York Festival of Ideas in June.

Electronics in Music: Professor David Howard (HoD, Electronics) and members of the Audio Lab in Electronics (Amelia Gully, Becky Vos, Bertrand Delvaux, Helena Daffern and Ben Cowperthwaite) presented an event titled "Order and chaos and music" for the York Festival of Ideas at the National Centre for Early Music on Monday 16th June 2014. The role of order and chaos in music was considered and illustrated with musical examples from sopranos Dr Helena Daffern (Electronics), Dr Clare Steele-King (Biology) and Annie Howard. The event also included the World Premiere of "Creation", a piece for synthesisers and live voices by Dr Andy Hunt (Electronics), which explored the notion of chaos, big bang, order in the context of various accounts of the creation.

Intelligent Systems: Dr Steven Smith and Professor Jon Timmis presented their work as part of the display for the Centre for Chronic Diseases at York. Dr Smith displayed his work on the detection of Parkinson's Disease using novel hardware and evolutionary algorithms, whilst Prof Timmis displayed computer simulations of tropical diseases (developed with Prof Paul Kaye from the Centre for Infection and Immunology) and a swarm robotic demonstration of immune system responses to disease, a video of the demonstration can be viewed:

Electronics Department innovation recognised at "Best of UK Technology" event at Buckingham Palace.



June 2014: Two senior academics from the Department attended a reception at Buckingham Palace on 9th June 2014, organised and promoted by the Office of the Duke of York as "an exciting opportunity to celebrate tech success and inspired continuted tech innovation in the UK.". The event was hosted by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh who greeted guests in the Picture Gallary of the Palace. Other Royal family members attending included the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of York, The Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent, who met and mingled with entreprenuers and leaders from the UK's successful technology sector. Dr Adar Pelah and Dr Stephen Smith, respecitvely Reader and Senior Lecturer in the Department, and both Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise FEllows, are fiunders of healthcare technology spin-out companies Asuuta Ltd and ClearSky Medical Diagnostics Ltd.


May 2014: A group of year 9 students from local schools attended an activity morning in the department last Friday. Students were given the opportunity to build a working iPod amplifier which they were able to take home with them. One of their teachers said "I spoke to a number of students and they absolutely enjoyed the experience. They were very proud of what they had made and it certainly made them aware of life at a University".

Pint of Science

May 2014: Two academics from the Department were involved in the Pint of Science event run during May in York. Dr Steve Smith delivered a talk with Dr Betsy Pownall from Biology on their work trying to understand Parkinson's diease, and Prof Jon Timmis gave a talk on how biology helps to inspire the development of swarm robotic systems. More information on the event can be found on the Pint of Science website.

Departmental outreach


April 2014: Prof Jon Timmis and Dr James Hilder delivered three classes to a variety of school children from the Bridlington area who visited the University as part of the widening participation activity on-going at York. The classes focussed on the design of robotic systems and included a series of demonstrations of swarming, flying and walking robots. Read more about the York Robotics Laboratory and our teaching and research in the area of robotics.

PhD Studentships available

April 2014: Following recent staff appointments and funding initiatives the Department has available up to 5 fully funded PhD studentships starting in the 2014/15 academic year. Please read the funding page for more information. Closing date for applications is Monday 5th May 2014

Coffee and Careers

March 2014: Alumna Abigail Richardson (MEng Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Systems 2008-2013) gave a "coffee and careers" talk to students in the department. Abigail now works as a software engineer at IPL in Bath and gave a fantastic talk describing her varied role at IPL and full of advice about what students can do during their time at York to put them in the best position to move into a great career. The event was organised by SWEY (Society for Women in Engineering) a new student-run group (open to male and female students) which has been set up support and encourage women in Electronics and Computer Science.

Science and Engineering Week

March 2014: A number of staff are taking part in a variety of outreach activities as part of National Science and Engineering Week (March 17th - March 21st). Ms Jude Brereton, Dr Bertrand Delavaux and Dr Helena Daffern were working with Professor David Howard at the National Railway Museum (as York Centre for Singing Science) using gadgets like 3D printed vocal tracts and Electrolarynx buzzers to show primary school children how their voices work and let them explore how to keep their voices healthy (throigh a highly scientific experiment involving eating chocolate of course!) Dr Dave Chesmore ran activities for primary school children at a STEM Fair organised by NYBEP at Barlby High School, explaining how to measure insect sounds and Professor Jon Timmis took two classes at Holme on Spalding Moor Primary School in the area of robotics.

York Joins Dynamic Spectrum Alliance

March 2014: York has recently joined the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance. The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance is a global organization advocating for laws and regulations that will lead to more efficient and effective spectrum utilization. Its membership spans multinationals, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and academic, research, and other organizations from around the world, all working to create innovative solutions that will increase the amount of available spectrum to the benefit of consumers and businesses alike. Membership will help strengthen our research projects underway in this area in the Communications and Signal Processing Group. Industrial members include: Microsoft, Google, BSkyB and Facebook.

New Editor in Chief of IET Journal

March 2014: Prof Andy Tyrrell has been appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) journal on Computers & Digital Techniques. IET Computers & Digital Techniques is one of the leading journals in the world publishing technical papers describing recent research and development work in all aspects of digital system-on-chip design and test of electronic and embedded systems, including the development of design automation tools (methodologies, algorithms and architectures).

Technical Workshop Chair

March 2014: In his role as Technical Director of York EMC Services Ltd Prof Andy Marvin chaired a Workshop on Rail Resilience to Space Weather Events on the 6th March. This is part part of a study commissioned by the Department of Transport being undertaken by Atkins, York EMC Services, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The study will be used by the Cabinet Office to inform its Preparedness Strategy. The Workshop used a Hazard Identification strategy to perform an initial vulnerability assessment of the electronic systems associated with the railway.

Prof Andy Marvin has recently joined the Membership Committee of the Royal Academy of Engineering. This Committee advises the Academy on candidates for election to its Fellowship.

New BBSRC grant to support development of imaging technology

March 2014: A new inter-disciplinary collaboration between the Departments of Electronics, (Steve Johnson), Physics (Thomas Krauss) and Biology (Mark Coles) has been awarded a grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council to fund the development of a new imaging technology for monitoring inter-cellular communication.

Individual cells within human tissues communicate with each other through specific chemical and bio-molecular signals that are released from cells into their local environment. Together these signals regulate how tissues form, function and are repaired. Inventing a technology that can create high definition maps of these molecular signals in both healthy and diseased tissues would provide invaluable insights into how tissues work and how they change during development, disease and during the aging process. In this proposal we aim to develop, test and use a new analytical technology that will provide real-time mapping of molecular signals in multicellular tissues, enabling researchers and clinicians to answer these critical questions. The tool is based on a silicon photonic crystal nanostructure similar to those developed originally for applications in high speed telecommunications.

New member of Delegate Assembly for EURACON

March 2014: Dr Paul Mitchell has been appointed to the Delegate Assembly of the European Association of Communications and Networking (EURACON) . This is is a three year post from Feb 2014. Paul has been elected as a regional representative for the UK, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta.

The Delegate Assembly is the sovereign body of the association. Essentially it involves several meetings per year. Members of the delegate assembly are expected to promote and help EURACON meet its objectives, to put forward ideas, lead activities and vote on any proposals put forward. Typical activities include logistical/organisational support for Summer Schools, conferences, best paper awards.

Three electronics students were recently supported by the Department to attend special events which aim at encouraging and supporting women in engineering.


Feb 2014: Robyn Walker attended ''Future Challenges: The Next 50 Years for Aviation, Aerospace and Space'' which was organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society's Women in Aviation & Aerospace Committee (WAAC) .

Nurul Husna Hussain attended the Wikipedia Women in Science Edit-a-thon where she was involved in writing over 100 Wikipedia articles about important women in engineering.

Ankita Gangotra attended the Women in Engineering Student Conference at Aston University - an annual event which gathers female students of engineering for networking, inspiration and support.

The conferences included talks by inspirational speakers on a great variety of topics from technical papers through to advice on networking and personal development. Robyn says "It was great to be involved in a network of people who understand the challenges faced by women in engineering and most importantly it is vital that children (boys and girls) are inspired to get interested in engineering from an early age!"

Ankita, Robyn and Nurul were so inspired by their experiences that they are setting up 'Society of Women in Engineering York' - a student-run society for all students Electronics and Computer Science, male and female, which will offer inspiration, motivation and support for female students in both departments.

Professor Jon Timmis awarded Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship

Jan 2014: The £85,000 Enterprise Fellowship will allow Professor Jon Timmis, from York's Department of Electronics, to commercialise the software and to develop a new company into a viable business over the next 12 months.

Together with Dr Mark Coles, from York's Centre for Immunology and Infection, Professor Timmis has created new computer modelling software which can help drug developers predict the effects of new drugs on autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis.

Autoimmune conditions, where the immune system attacks its own tissues, affect 10 per cent of the UK's adult population and are a leading cause of death and disability.

As well as funding, Professor Timmis will also receive one-to-one mentoring from some of the UK's top technology entrepreneurs as part of the Academy's Enterprise Hub.

The Department has a strong track record with these Fellowships, with two awarded last year from only five awards being made. These were to Dr Steven Smith and Dr Adar Pelah.

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