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School of Engineering and Computing Sciences (ECS)


Former Engineering student gets prestigious award from ICE "Greatest Contribution to Civil Engineering"

August 2017

Recently retired Tim Healey BSc(Hons), CEng, FICE, MIStructE, from the post of Director of Civil Engineering at Capita Property and Infrastructure (formerly Capita Symonds and before that Travers Morgan) received an award from the Institution of Civil Engineers at their 2017 South East Awards Ceremony held at the Grand Hotel in Brighton for the category of “ Greatest Contribution to Civil Engineering”. pictured Tim being presented with the award by former ICE President Jean Venables.

Since graduating from Durham Tim's 42 year career in Civil Engineering has seen him work on projects in around 20 countries, on over a dozen major tunnels and on such major civil engineering schemes as Crossrail, High Speed 2, North Wales Coast Road, Budapest Metro and the main east coast federal highway in Malaysia. Throughout his career Tim tells us he has applied the sound principles of engineering science taught to him here at Durham by such excellent tutors as Gordon Higginson, Harry Marsh, Pat Gill, David Gregory-Smith, John Wilson and others, including some sessions with Sir Derman Christopherson during his undergraduate days.

Dr Will Coombs now an Associate Professor in Engineering here at Durham, remembers Tim Healey. Will, as a student engineer at Durham, worked with Tim in the East Grinstead office of Capita Symonds.

Durham Engineering PhD students research, is the subject of a new article by Renewable Energy Global Innovations

August 2017

Zakiya AL-Busaidi’s recent paper in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells is the subject of a new article by Renewable Energy Global Innovations. AL-Busaidi, currently a PhD student in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University, received her M.Sc. degree in physics at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. Her current research focuses on how to enhance the lifetime of organic photovoltaics by using insulating polymers.

Read more about their take on our work here

Durham University in £7.6 million partnership to develop wind power technology for the future

July 2017

A collaboration, which includes Durham University, has won £7.6m funding under the EPSRC’s Prosperity Partnerships call, to improve the country’s offshore wind power technologies.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, made the announcement as part of a multi-million pound investment into research partnerships to strengthen links between the UK’s research base, industry and business partners.

Led by the University of Sheffield, along with partner universities Durham and Hull and business partners Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and DONG Energy, the five-year programme will address current and future challenges in order to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind.

Engineering experts from Durham University will work on projects aimed at reducing the operation and maintenance costs of offshore wind turbines to ensure the efficient running of wind farms and on projects connected to anchoring of offshore structures. Technologies being developed at Durham will include new methods and sensors for earlier detection of emerging faults before the turbines need to go off line, better turbine blade and tower inspections techniques, improved analytical models for seabed soils and better designs for seabed anchors. All of these developments are aligned with the overarching aim of the collaborative project which is to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy generation.

You can read more about the project here

DONG Energy to support PhD research at Durham University to help increase wind turbine efficiency

July 2017
DONG Energy is continuing its long-standing relationship with Durham University by supporting two PhD research studentships through the Durham Energy Institute (DEI).DONG Energy has funded the Chair in Renewable Energy position at DEI and endowed three MSc scholarships for Durham University students each year since 2011. DONG Energy will now support two PhDs as well, which will focus on the operation of wind turbines and helping to predict technical faults before they happen. Benj Sykes, DONG Energy's UK Country Manager, said: "DONG Energy is committed to investing in the UK and we're delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Durham Energy Institute through these two PhDs, alongside our existing sponsorship of Masters students and wider support. "We're passionate about supporting skills, education and the future of the offshore wind industry in the UK, and this important research into the operation of wind turbines could prove hugely significant in the future."
Simon Hogg, DONG Energy Professor in Renewable Energy at Durham University, said: "Durham Energy Institute believes that addressing energy challenges collaboratively through strong partnerships with industry ensures exciting research initiatives with real world applications that achieve maximum impact in the energy sector. "Our work with DONG Energy and these new joint PhDs are the perfect exemplar of this approach in action. We believe the research undertaken will help to make the UK wind sector even more economically competitive and a reliable part of the UK and European energy mix moving forward. This research will add to the range of exciting collaborative initiatives we are engaging in with DONG Energy, which are helping to make the UK the world leader in offshore wind energy research and installed capacity."
The two PhD research programmes are a direct outcome of a secondment by Durham University Assistant Professor Dr Peter Matthews to DONG Energy in Denmark, which revealed that wind turbine maintenance logs represent a rich source of data that would support significant advances in machine learning for improving wind turbine operational efficiency and availability. The PhDs will bring together turbine maintenance data and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data, with a view to developing algorithms for predicting turbine malfunction. One student (Roger Cox) will focus on developing a method for analysing and categorising relevant maintenance issues from the maintenance database. This will feed into the work of the second student (Luke Payne), who will focus on developing advanced data methods to positively identify turbines that are developing faults before they become critical and require the turbine to be taken off line. This research could prove vital in improving the availability of offshore wind turbines, ultimately helping to further drive down the cost of energy. The PhD research will be supervised by Dr Peter Matthews and Dr Christopher Crabtree from Engineering at Durham University, and will be undertaken both in Durham and on site at DONG Energy's offices.
By including the students as part of the DONG Energy team, they will be able to rapidly gain deep understanding of the company's key challenges and priorities. This will ensure that research remains highly relevant to DONG Energy, as well as enabling knowledge transfer between DONG Energy and Durham University.
Roger Cox is an experienced mechanical engineer who has worked on a number of renewable energy projects, while Luke Payne is a trained mathematician who has been involved with various data driven wind energy problems. The research is expected to be completed in December 2020 and DONG Energy is funding 66% of the two PhDs, with the remaining 34% funded by Durham University.
Image: (Left to right) Luke Payne, Christopher Crabtree, Pete Matthews and Roger Cox (Dong Energy)

IBM Team Prize

June 2017

The team project is sponsored by IBM and the theme for this year was for the year 2 Computer Science students to develop an IT solution which promotes and facilitates food sharing in communities. People often throw food away simply because they bought it by mistake and would prefer to donate it to those who need it. The final IT system included functionality such as allowing geographically close people to post their unwanted food on the system and for others to search and find it and then arrange a collection time and location. The winning team pictured here from left to right are: (standing) Joshua Bremner, Thien Nguyen, Simeon Chan and Robert Shipley, (sitting) Ian Shore from IBM and John Jennings. Ian came to the department to present the winning students with cheques for the “Best Team" taking part in the software development project.

Durham Computer Science undergraduates win the NISSAN CHALLENGE

April 2017

Nissan UK based here in the North East, have hosted the first North East university challenge at Beamish Wild activity centre in Beamish County Durham. The teamwork event was set over two days and included adventure and treetop events and was centered around team working, communications and planning. The first day saw the teams gaining points to be spent the next day on resources such as maps, compasses, GPS units, extra time, etc to complete the grand challenge where the teams had a car and driver and had to plan and attempt as many tasks as possible in and around Newcastle, Beamish, and Durham. The four Durham winners were all first-year students (2nd left to right) Cem Ekin Sunal, Vivek Mehta, Alexander Stuckey, and Jonathan Digweed. The team was joined by Georgia Lumley, Laura Thomason and Shauna Radford from Nissan.

Jonathan (one of the winners) commented “Overall, it was a very fun weekend … and I'm happy to say Team Durham were placed 1st and walked away with the £600 in prize money. More importantly, we made some good friends and contacts with Nissan”.

Computer Science students win prestigious awards

April 2017

Pictured here left to right, Computer Science students, Jake Goldsmith Level 1 winner of 2017 BP Scholarship, Soumya Singh Level 2 winner of the BP 2017 Community Engagement Award, Sara Chen Level 2 winner of the 2017 BP Women in Industry Award and Level 2 Thomas Preston winning a BP Summer Research Internship,

Computer Science student goes to Madrid

March 2017

King Him Cheung a 2nd-year Computer Science student was one of 24 finalists selected to go to the week-long Procter & Gamble - IT Business Challenge prestigious event in Madrid. King experienced an array of challenges working in teams on IT project management cases. Throughout this, he developed a new perspective on effective teamwork and became a leader based on his own personality. King commented that “It was an amazing and enriching experience!”. He was also one of the three grand prize winners in the UK and Ireland IBM Master the Mainframe challenge, having the opportunity to travel to IBM’s Hursley development lab to work on IBM’s Z13 mainframe.

What it means to be human

March 2017

BBC radio 4 "Thought for the Day" is a regular spot where speakers from across the world's major faiths offer a spiritual insight. In this episode The Rev Professor David Wilkinson, Principal of St Johns College here at Durham, talks about the playful and serious issues in the development of robotics. Professor Wilkinson tells us of the governments recent policy paper "Digital strategy for a digital economy" and the probability of robots replacing large numbers of the human workforce and the inevitable impact on our social change. Professor Wilkinson references Steven Johnson's book, Wonderland, in which he states "You will find the future where ever people are having the most fun", supposition being that social change primerily happens in play. As part of a project to help senior church leaders encounter cutting edge science, The Rev Professor Wilkinson accompanied some of his colleagues to visit the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. The group of, mainly bishops, were introduced to students, who, as way of engaging in 3 dimensional image processing in computation, are teaching child sized robots to play football. The bishops playfully talked with the robots and so science and theology experienced a fruitful exchange, reminding us, what it means to be human.

You can listen to the full episode of The Rev Professor David Wilkinson's thought for the day here



A tool to identify, explore and reduce the emotions associated with stress. Stress management through a mindful technique in developing countries.

March 2017

Engineering academic Dr. Qing Wang co-hosted a two days Origami workshop 28 and 29 March funded under the HEFCE Newton Fund. The workshop intends to explain how Origami is used as a mindful tool for stress identification and reduction in developing countries such as Mexico. Participants learned basic concepts of the history and applications of Origami in different sciences such as aerospace, nanotechnology, and engineering and to use Origami, through the folding of different models, to reduce the emotions related to stress. At the end of the workshop participants engaged in a proposal of their own using the acquired knowledge. The emotional state of a person deeply affects their perception, productivity, and development. Negative feelings and emotions such as stress have a direct impact on the health of people that could trigger pathologies such as dementias, premature ageing, and diabetes, amongst others. In recent years, Origami has proven to be one of the most effective activities in promoting a mindful state and is recognised by the NHS as an effective treatment for stress, depression, anxiety, and as prevention, treatment to promote mental well-being.


Smart Energy Markets and Smart Energy Grids Workshop

March 2017

As part of the Durham Energy Institute Small Grant project - Distributed Auction Design for Smart Microgrids, a workshop on smart energy markets and smart grids was held in School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Friday 17th March 2017.

Experts from both industry and academia were invited to give talks on smart energy markets and smart grids from industrial, engineering, computing sciences, and economics perspectives. Through the workshop, we encouraged conversations and discussions on emerging topics in smart grids such as renewables, energy storage and PEVs integrations with their impacts on the power system control/operations and energy market implementation and smart energy market design for smart grids. There were three technical sessions:

- Energy Storage and Renewables Integration Solutions
- Integrated Whole Energy System Management
- Smart Energy Economics

Speakers and presentation titles:
Dr Graham Oakes, Upside Energy Ltd"What happens when the lights go out? Open innovation and the Virtual Energy Store."
Professor Kang Li, Queen's University Belfast "Big data analytics and control technologies in decarbonizing the whole energy chain from top to tail"
Dr Xiao-Jun Zeng, University of Manchester "Integrated Demand and Supply Side Management and Smart Pricing in Smart Grids"
Dr Behzad Kazemtabrizi, Durham University: "Active Network Management (ANM) and Flexibility in Smarter Power Networks"
Dr Yukun Shi, University of Leicester: "Arbitrage opportunities and feedback trading in emissions and energy markets"D
Dr Fanlin Meng, Durham University: "Differential pricing in smart grid retail market"

Further information can be found through this link

IMechE Challenge 2017

March 2017

Congratulations to Durham Engineering students who have won this year's IMechE Regional Design Challenge. Durham entered two teams into the competition which was held at Sunderland University. One of our Durham teams won first prize in the competition which is £500 and will now go through to the IMechE National Design Challenge final in London later this year. Our other team came second and won £300 together with a further £100 for the best poster in the competition. Well done!

ECS leading the way to address the difficulties of data transmission in smart grids.

January 2017

The kick-off meeting for the TESTBED project was successfully held in Brussels in January . TESTBED is a major interdisciplinary project coordinated by Engineering Lecturer, Dr. Hongjian Sun at Durham University. It combines insights from three academic disciplines - Electronics Engineering, Power Engineering and Computing Sciences, to address the difficulties of data transmission in smart grids. The EU-funded project will coordinate action of 5 Universities and 3 enterprises from EU and China, to build and test sophisticated ICT to facilitate the successful implementation of smart grid applications.

Read the full article on the project.


North East Energy Materials Symposium

Dr Chris Groves and Dr Budhika Mendis have won a small grant from the Durham Energy Institute to begin a series of Energy Materials meetings bringing together researchers from the North East Universities. The first meeting will happen on 21st April 2017 and will have invited and contributed talks spanning materials characterisation, simulation and fabrication.


Durham Engineering Graduate Listed in 'Forbes 30 Under 30'

February 2017

Dr Marek Kubik has been included in the prestigious 'Forbes 30 Under 30' list for 2017. He is a Market Analyst at AES Energy Storage and graduated with an MEng in Civil Engineering from Durham in 2009.

Marek's work has focused on the use of energy storage to address the intermittent nature of renewable power. He led a project to build the UK's largest energy storage site (~10MW). As a result, the UK has introduced new power response mechanisms and tendered 200 MW of storage. Marek is also the primary interface between AES Energy Storage and clients across Europe, Middle East and Africa. During his time at Durham, he was Branch President of Engineers without Borders and received numerous awards including the Arup Design Prize for Civil Engineering Design.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 lists recognise the 30 most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars in their respective industries.

Durham's Computer Science students organise Major League Hacking

January 2017

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. Occasionally, there is a hardware component as well. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week.

Major League Hacking (MLH) is the official student hackathon league, a Certified B-Corp. MLH sanctions and promotes student hackathons in the United States, Mexico, Canada, United Kingdom, and other European countries.

Durham University Computer Science students organised a successful 24hr hackathon In the School of ECS' Christopherson buildings open access computing facilities. The event was sponsored by Durham Council and Sunderland Software City.

Engineers to develop a new technology

January 2017

Engineering academics, Dr Claudio Balocco, with Dr Andrew Gallant and Professor David Wood, have been awarded an EPSRC grant “Nano-rectennas for heat-to-electricity conversion", in collaboration with researchers from Manchester, which has started in August 2016. They aim to develop a new technology to convert radiant heat to electricity, using large arrays of electronic nano-devices known as nano-rectennas. In the future these could be used in micro combined heat-power (mCHP) systems, converting part of the heat from the burner into electricity. Unlike thermoelectric devices, these proposed energy converters are neither in physical contact with the hot source, nor require materials with a high toxicity or strict disposal regulations. They will be fabricated using “green” materials, and are based on common metals (e.g. titanium, platinum and gold), carbon (in the form of graphene) and non-toxic, highly stable organic layers.

Research Workshop on Graph Covers

January 2017

The School hosted the ninth in a series of workhops on "Algebraic, Topological and Complexity Aspects of Graph Covers". Delegates enjoyed lectures from three prestigious invited speakers and a small number of further talks, but the principal aim of the workshop was to bring together researchers working on diverse aspects of graph coverings, and to provide an opportunity for them to pursue joint research. A productive week was had by all, and there was also time to enjoy a tour of Durham Castle, a reception at Palace Green Library and an excursion to Newcastle.

For more information go to //atcagc.2017

Ethics Prize for Undergraduate Engineers

December 2016

This is the second year running the challenge to the students was to write an essay after reading Sheryl Sandburg’s global best seller on gender equality in the workplace. The book entitled “Lean In” has once again inspired a new generation of undergraduates studying on a “traditionally male” degree subject here at Durham. Sandburg’s book urges women to take a proactive approach to progressing their careers - to 'lean in' to work or put themselves forward for opportunities whilst stressing the importance of men taking a more active and equal role in the home. First prize went to Gustav Speakman, second prize went to Mari Thomas and third prize went to Bianca Branco. The prizes were presented to the three ECS Level 1 engineering undergraduates for "The best engineering ethics essay" by Professor Jon Trevelyan Head of School. Professor Trevelyan addressed the class stressing the importance of ethics in engineering and also drawing attention to the gender imbalance in the work place with regard to the STEM subjects.

Evolving electronics' could lead to new electrical devices

August 2016

ECS researchers have taken inspiration from nature to teach materials to form new electrical pathways. They say the finding could eventually lead to new electronic devices. They have managed to train tiny carbon nanotubes, suspended in a liquid crystal solution, to reorganise into new networks in order to solve a simple problem - sorting data into two categories.

Creating new electrical circuits

When varying electrical voltages were applied to the material using a computer programme, the tiny nanotubes changed position to create new electrical circuits and increase the material’s ability to solve the task. Although at an early stage the researchers hope their findings, published in Scientific Reports, could be used to help understand complicated information that normal computers can find difficult. For example, the new materials could be used to help find hidden patterns of symptoms associated with disease, or even predict the next emoji you might want to use. Currently silicon based transistors are used to process information in electronics, but new alternatives are being sought as they reach the limits of how small they can be made.

Inspired by nature

The Durham team took their lead from nature where living organisms evolve to perform complex tasks. Research co-author Professor Michael Petty, in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said: “Living organisms have evolved in nature to perform complex tasks with remarkable ease. The human brain and central nervous system are both excellent examples. “Our research aims to explore similar evolution methods to create information processing devices. “In this case we took a random, disordered material and trained it to produce a desired output by applying voltages to it to change its electrical properties. “When the correct signals are applied the material can be trained or ‘evolved’ to perform a useful function.”

Complementary technology

Professor Petty said that although he could not see the type of material developed in the research competing with high-speed silicon in the immediate future, it could be a complementary technology. He added: “This is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research, bringing together electronics, materials science and computer science. “Although in its early stage, the concept has been proven that, using natural evolution, materials can be trained to mimic electronic circuits without the need to design the material structure in a specific way.”

The research was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under the NAnoSCale Engineering for Novel Computation using Evolution (NASCENCE) project.

ECS Student becomes Regional Winner for Europe

July 2016

The Highly Commended Entrants and the Global Winners were announced in August for The Undergraduate Awards (UA) 2016 programme. Congratulations to this years graduates David Allison and Frank Ryan on being Highly Commended for their CS projects in this year's programme. This means that their papers were in the top 10% of all submissions to the Computer Sciences category. David graduated with a first class honours degree in Computer Science, his paper entitled: “Investigating the Use of Stochastic Beam Search in Identifying Long Induced Paths and Cycles in Hypercube Graphs” and Frank a Natural Science student taking mostly Comp Sci modules graduated with a MSci his paper entitled: "Data Embedding within Clustered-Dot Halftones" For David and Frank this means international recognition and representing Durham University in the world's largest academic awards programme. Further to this, David Allison has recently been awarded the highest-performing Highly Commended Entrant in Europe region and therefore theRegional Winner from the Europe Region in the Computer Sciences category of “The Undergraduate Awards 2016 programme”

The annual UA Global Summit is a four-day networking and brainstorming event, bringing together the brightest and most innovative students in the world: UA’s Winners and Highly Commended Entrants. The Programme recognises seven regions of winners at different levels. The seven regions of the UA 2016 programme are: the Island of Ireland, Europe, USA & Canada, Latin America, Oceania, Asia, Africa & the Middle East.

Earlier this year David broke the current world records for Snake-in-the-Box. The Institute for Artificial Intelligence at The University of Georgia maintains a records list of current records for Snake-in-the-Box and its counterpart Coil-in-the-Box, where the goal is to find a longest induced cycle in a hypercube.

Pictured here David Allison on graduation day with ECS head of School Professor Jon Trevelyan.

Snapshot of research in ECS Mechanics Group

June 2016

On the 14th June 2016 the mechanics research group in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences held its first research day. During the day there were 23 presentations from MScR/PhD students and post-doctoral researchers at all stages of their careers. Talks covered a diverse range of topics, from computational mechanics to experimental soil mechanics, providing a snapshot of the research in the group. The aim of the day was to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going on in the group in terms of research and to foster discussion and potential collaboration on common issues/techniques/solution methods.


IBM Team Prize

May 2016

Pictured here from left to right: Ian Shore from IBM, with ECS Computer Science students Tiancheng Guo, Andrew Dunnings, Matthew Stobbs, Dean Slack, and Alan Perry also from IBM. Ian and Alan came to ECS to present the students with with the annual IBM prize for the "Best Team" taking part in a group project.

Images of Technology @Durham 2016

The School of Engineering and Computing Sciences for a third time is hosting a competition for images or videos relating to technology. The competition is open to all students, researchers, and academic and non-academic staff members in ECS at the University of Durham.

Participants are invited to submit photographs, videos or generated images of work relating to their studies or research in Engineering and Computing Sciences. For example the image to the right was produced by the Innovative Computing Research Group using graphics, visualisation and image processing techniques. It is acceptable to make something abstract, artistic, humorous or something that shows real people doing real things. Participants are invited to be imaginative with their submission as we the judges are looking for the most inspiring, illuminating and beautiful images.

This year there are four prizes, First prize of £150 and Three runnerup prizes of £50 each and deadline for submission is 10th June 2016.

The winners will be contacted by email and names will be announced shortly afterward on our ECS news pages. The winning entries will be displayed in the school alongside last years winning images.

For more information and guidelines on submission of work, download the guide.


Parliament Live TV Event

May 2016

School of Engineering and Computing Sciences Dr Karen Johnson Senior lecturer in Environmental Engineering, gave oral evidence to the Government's Environmental Audit Committee's Inquiry into Soil Health. The Environmental Audit Committee scrutinises the UK Government's performance on environmental protection and sustainable development. Karen stated that urban soils are currently unprotected and that engineers should lead the way in the sustainable management of urban soils since soils have an important role to play both in climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. Watch the video of the Audit Committee's Inquiry you can also follow on and read more about Karen's research

Key to Smart Power revolution

May 2016

Why understanding the energy system as a whole is key to Smart Power revolution. A new centre that will allow experts to test the entire energy system in real time has been announced. 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. Providing us with robust messages about the real world, the aim is to understand how we can optimise the energy network and inform future government policy. Academics from Durham ECS and DEI, together with colleagues from Newcaslte, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Sussex Universities have been successful in securing £20m to form the ‘EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration’. The centre aims to galvanise research and innovation around the UK energy trilemma and will form a new highly collaborative and integrative research centre, which has at its heart the strengths of five research intensive universities, but also reaches out and collaborates with the skills and expertise of the UK academic community and many industrial partners and public sector organisations. The Centre will develop wide-scale, probabilistic modelling and simulation of integrated energy systems at sufficient detail and sophistication to meet the needs of the energy trilemma that will shape the UK’s energy policy and infrastructure over the next 50 years. More information on the project can be found here

Unconscious Bias workshop

May 2016

ECS would like to extend a big thank you to Michelle Taylor for coming to ECS and delivering a condensed workshop entitled "Unconscious Bias" Michelle is an Equality & Diversity Trainer in Durham University Department of Human Resources. A number of people expressed their enjoyment of the workshop and an interest in attending the more in depth and highly interactive workshop which Michelle runs once a month. You can find out more about the workshop on our training pages

ECS Student wins Best PhD Student award for 2016

April 2016

Earlier this month School of Engineering Post graduate student Robert Bird presented a paper at the 24th ACMA-UK Computational Mechanics conference 2016 at Cardiff University. Roberts paper on "quasi-static configurational force brittle fracture propagation within a discontinuous Galerkin (dG) finite element setting", won him 'Best PhD Student award for 2016' based on his presentation and extended abstract. The novelty of the work was exploiting the dG face stiffness terms which describe adjacent element iteration to propagate a crack. The Conference focused on recent developments in the field of Computational Mechanics through a combination of keynote lectures, paper and poster sessions. Researchers from areas closely related to Computational Mechanics such as Scientific Computing and Applied Mathematics were encouraged to participate and also to take the opportunity to visit Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium 2016

April 2016

Leah Clark ECS Computer Science student, won one of the people’s choice award sponsored by Tigerface Games for her poster “Detecting hidden data in images: Steganalysis vs Steganography” at the the 9th BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium hosted this year by Sheffield Hallam University. BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium is a national one-day conference for women students of computing and related disciplines. The aim of the event is to bring women students from around the UK together for networking, talks, and career development advice from successful women in computing. There are speakers from both industry and academia, and a poster contest for the students to show off and talk about their own work. Leah is currently in her 3rd Year of an MEng Computer Science degree in ECS.

"Form Follows Function - Do algorithms and applications challenge or drag behind the hardware evolution?"

April 2016
Dr Tobias Weinzierl along with Prof. Dr. Michael Bader is Co organising this years, high profile, International Supercomputing Conference, ISC HPC 2016 in Frankfurt Germany. Dr Tobias Weinzierl, Lecturer and member of the two research groups "Innovative Computing in computer science" and "Computational Mechanics in engineering" at the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences in Durham University. His work mainly focuses on the algorithm, data structure and software paradigm side in High-performance computing.
Exascale roadmaps are dominated by predictions on hardware trends. At the same time, hardware-software co-design is a frequently cited phrase. It suggests that software development has an impact on the hardware evolution. Is this assumption valid? If so, what does this interplay of predicted hardware improvements and software development look like?
ISC High Performance conference attendees can look forward to three days of thought-provoking sessions. The conference features speakers from all over Europe and will be preceded by a day of tutorials and followed by a day of workshops.

SAPIENT - Addresses the human cognitive burden problems with security systems

March 2016

Working in Collaboration; Durham's ECS Dr Toby Breckon, Government and industry to lead the development of a new concept in modular autonomous sensing.

The jointly funded project by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Innovate UK for an autonomous, modular sensor system could be a game-changer for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and security industry. The Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) project has demonstrated a modular hierarchical autonomous sensor system which could significantly reduce the operator burden involved in perimeter protection and security.

Currently most security systems, such as CCTV cameras, simply collect data and feed it to an operator who can assess the situation and make decisions for where the sensors should look next. Monitoring and interpreting lots of data can place a high cognitive burden on the operator. In the SAPIENT system individual sensors can make low-level decisions autonomously, such as which direction to look or whether to zoom in, in order to fulfil a higher-level objective. These higher-level objectives are managed by a decision making module which controls the overall system and makes some of the decisions normally made by the operators. This significantly reduces the burden on the operator and lowers his or her need to concentrate on the output of the sensors all of the time. A video and more information on the project can be found here

Next Generation Thin Film Pressure Sensors

March 2016

Congratulations to (left to right) Zoltan Racz (CI) Linzi Dodd (CI) and David Wood (PI), for their new KTP award (£247,248) for the project "‘Next Generation Thin Film Pressure Sensors" funded by Senstronics.

Senstronics Ltd is working with Durham University on a strategic project entitled 'Next Generation Thin Film Pressure Sensors'. Senstronics Ltd is a Joint Venture between two multibillion dollar companies. Manufacturing to TS16949 standard, Senstronics supplies thin-film pressure transducers to the agricultural, construction and industrial sectors. Based in the Newton Aycliffe, Senstronics market-leading quality has resulted in a factor of three increase in sales in the last four years. The company was incubated here in Durham in 1999, and this is the latest collaborative programme. We have been working with them quite intensively over the last two years in detailed aspects of the science of their pressure sensors, and the KTP programme will help us develop leading-edge thin-film technology to extend the operating range of pressure transducers in temperature, pressure and isolation to allow penetration of new markets.

Final Year Computer Science student breaks world record for Snake-In-The-Box

March 2016

David Allison, a 3rd year Computer Science student supervised by Daniel Paulusma, worked on algorithms for solving the Snake-in-the-Box problem. The goal of this problem is to find a longest path in a hypercube that starts in a corner of a hypercube and that only visits a new corner if neither that corner nor its neighbours have been visited before. The Snake-in-the-Box problem was introduced in 1958 as a way of finding Gray codes that can detect single-bit errors. It has many other applications in the areas of computer science, mathematics and engineering, such as error correction in digital communication, disk sector encoding, clock domain crossing, computer network topologies and genetic algorithms, just to name a few.
For hypercubes of dimension at most 8, the Snake-in-the-Box problem has been solved exactly. For larger dimensions the problem is still open, but lower bounds on the snake length have been improved repeatedly over time. The Institute for Artificial Intelligence at The University of Georgia maintains a records list of current records for Snake-in-the-Box and its counterpart Coil-in-the-Box, where the goal is to find a longest induced cycle in a hypercube.
David broke the current records for Snake-in-the-Box for dimensions 11, 12 and 13, and for Coil-in-the-Box for dimensions 12 and 13 by using a heuristic search method called stochastic beam search. His results have now become part of the literature for these two well-studied problems and can be found at .

ECS Celebrating International Womens Day 2016

March 2016

Continuing to celebrate the achievements of women, ECS has invited the insprirational "Professor Danielle George" to come and talk to us here at Durham.
Danielle is born and bred in Newcastle and completed her BSc in Astrophysics, MSc in Radio Astronomy at The Victoria University of Manchester based at Jodrell Bank Observatory, and her PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering with UMIST. She worked at Jodrell Bank Observatory as a senior Radio Frequency Engineer until 2006 when she took up a lectureship post in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Danielle was awarded a Professorship at the age of 38 and is now Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, and a Professor in the Microwave and Communications Systems research group at the University of Manchester.
Danielle delivered the prestigious Royal Institution Xmas Lectures in 2014 entitled: 'Sparks will fly: how to hack your home' and her expertise in radio frequency and microwave communications has a wide range of applications across a number of industries. To date most of Danielle's research and development work has been carried out on a variety of aspects relating to ultra low noise receivers for Space and Aerospace applications. She is the UK lead for amplifiers in the $1B astronomical instrument, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the $1B Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope and has worked with NASA and ESA on the development of instrumentation for researchers exploring the Big Bang. She has worked with agriculturists on the development of instrumentation to measure water usage, and with a number of multi-national companies such as Rolls Royce where she worked on industrial gas turbine engines.

The talk entitiled "How many Female Engineers it takes to change a lightbulb" will take place on Wednesday 9th March in ECS Higginson bulding Room E240 @1pm (lunch included)

For more Information contact: Dr Karen Johnson

International Womens day 2016

Making paper airplanes

February 2016

Making paper airplanes may seem far removed from software development but when Sage UK came to Durham to deliver an interactive workshop to second year Computer Science students that's exactly what they did. The workshop focused on agile approaches to software development and, in particular, the ‘scrum’ process which is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development. Scrum has been widely adopted by industry and is therefore an important methodology for students to understand. This workshop involved student teams supervised by a product owner (Sage representatives), in building different types of airplanes to specification while keeping in mind the quality and performance of the delivered product. The workshop was greatly enjoyed by students and clearly put into practice the theory that had been delivered in their lectures.

IMechE Design Challenge

February 2016

Durham University held the local round of the IMechE Design Challenge on Friday with two teams being selected for the regional finals at Newcastle University on April the 27th 2016.The Design Challenge requires engineering students to design a product to work according to strict specifications. The challenge is open to teams of up to five students in the first year of an engineering courses nationwide. This year's challenge is to simulate a ship to ship line launcher, students have to build a remotely operated device that fires a projectile and line into a small target over ranges of 2m to 6m all within a budget of £20.

ECS Staff & Students Guiding National Policy

February 2016

ECS PhD student, Chas Nelson has been selected to join the BBSRCs Science Strategy Group as an intern. Chas' time at the research council will be spent working on the BBSRC's ongoing review of bioimaging across the UK ( This review is in response to the changing UK bioimaging research scape, developments within both the UK and European bioimaging communities and significant developments in imaging technology. Chas will be assisting the Exploting New Ways of Working Strategy team with data collections and analysis and will work with the council and external experts on the drafting of the review and recommendations. Chas's time at the BBSRC is part funded by a small grant from Durham University's Wolfson Research Institute (

Dr. Boguslaw Obara, an ECS academic and Chas's supervisor, has also been involved in shaping national policy towards bioimaging and was involved in Bioimaging UK's response ( to Sir Paul Nurse's Review of the UK Research councils (

It Just Takes Imagination

February 2016

ECS were pleased to welcome a guest lecture from ECS Durham graduate Ian Duffy, who now works at Imagination Technologies. Ian, graduated from the Durham University School of Engineering and Computer Science in 2013 with a BEng in Electronic Engineering. Since graduating, he has worked for Imagination Technologies, a leading supplier of semiconductor IP based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. Their portfolio includes PowerVR GPU/Video cores, MIPS CPUs, Ensigma Communications technology and more. Ian works in Customer Engineering, a global team who specialise in helping customers to design-in and make the best use of Imaginations technology.
Ian’s talk looked at how the GPU pipeline works, with particular application to graphics. The lecture was well attended by staff and students interested in GPU, digital design and graphics and afterwards Ian, pictured right and ECS Teaching Fellow, Dr Steven Bradley, pictured left, hosted a Q&A session in the schools staff coffee room.

TERRIER® and Combat Engineering

January 2016

Gareth David Ayre graduated from Durhams Engineering Department in 2003. Now Gareth is Engineering Team Lead - Bridging & Combat Engineering at BAE systems and has returned to ECS to talk about his work on the Army's most advanced multi-task vehicle named the Terrier.

The Terrier is the Army's most advanced multi-task vehicle. It is a unique platform combining combat strength with the ability to perform a huge variety of engineering tasks on the battlefield. Designed to be agile, adaptable and robust, it can carry out a multitude of tasks under the most dangerous of conditions.

The 30-tonne REMOTE CONTROLLED armoured digger built for 'the battlefields of the future, it will be used to dig holes, lift objects, drill into ground and shatter concrete. It can reach speeds of almost 50mph and is able to be controlled remotely. Machine gun and smoke grenade launchers can also be fitted for combat. The Army will receive 60 Terriers as part of £360m project with BAE Systems.

The talk was sponsored by the IMechE and is a great insight into real engineering and the experiences open to students in the engineering profession.
Read more:

World Soils Day

January 2016

Pictured here speaking at Durham University organised event to celebrate World Soils Day at Westminster on 2nd December 2015 is Dr Karen Johnson from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. The event was a panel debate on soil health and was well attended. The Chair of the Government's Environmental Audit Committee's Huw Irranca-Davies MP chaired the debate and launched the UK's first ever inquiry into Soil Health at the event (

The video of the event can be seen online at:

More information on soil research can be found at:

ECS Sarah Drummond becomes HEA 70,000th Senior Fellow

January 2016

HEA Fellowship is designed around the UK Professional Standards Framework, the only independent national and international benchmark for teaching in higher education. It supports the initial and continuing professional development of staff engaged in teaching and supporting learning in higher education. To date seventy thousand learning and teaching professionals in higher education are now Fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). The 70,000th Fellow is Dr Sarah Drummond from Durham University, who has become a Senior Fellow.

Dr Drummond is a Teaching Fellow and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Sarah became a Fellow of the HEA soon after it formed in 2004 but only recently applied for Senior Fellowship having been encouraged to do so by a senior colleague in the University who had recently received his HEA Senior Fellowship. Sarah said: “As a research-led institution it is important that staff can see higher education teachers, including senior colleagues, being recognised in this way. High quality teaching is vitally important as is high quality research with both being necessary to provide a learning environment that allows students to reach their full potential. With the Teaching Excellence Framework on the way, Fellowship of the HEA is going to be even more critical”.

Read the full article

Durham University’s Solar Car will race again

December 2015

Durham University’s Solar Car took part in the 3,000km World Solar Challenge race across Australia in October. The team from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and DEI, suffered setbacks with engine problems, but still managed to complete the race in 27th position. The team are currently looking at races next year in Europe and South Africa. The 2016 Sasol Solar Challenge in South Africa will take place in September 24th to October 1st and is an alternative fuel vehicle auto racing challenge with classes for hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and biofuel-powered vehicle as well as solar vehicles.

The iLumen European Solar Challenge will take place from September 23rd to 25th 2016 at the former Formula 1 race track of Zolder in Belgium. This competition is only for solar-powered electric vehicles. The top European Teams of this scene will have the chance to compete in 3 different disciplines on the European continent. The driving energy is exclusively taken from the solar collectors mounted on the vehicle. The worldwide successful and famous SolarCar Events are often referred to as "Brain-Sport". Compared to normal racing series, here the strategy with all its parameters considered has a much higher impact. These include for example budgeting with the energy of the sun, wind direction, road condition and .elevation changes.

Journal of Power and Energy, Special Issue

December 2015

The latest issue of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Journal of Power and Energy is a Special Issue on Renewable Energy Technologies. The Journal is guest-edited by Chris Dent of School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and DEI. It consists of invited reviews describing the state of the art in a wide range of renewable technologies, including articles from Durham University on wind energy ( ECS authors: Christopher Crabtree, Donatella Zappala and Simon Hogg) and geothermal energy (ECS authors: Alison Auld, Simon Hogg , also Earth Sciences Jon Gluyas and Geography Charlotte Adams ).

Read the full article

Capture the Flag

November 2015

Computer Science graduate Matt King (2009) of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence came and ran an event known as a capture the flag (CTF) for Computer Science students. In teams of 4-6 students tackled practical cyber security challenges in categories such as binary exploitation, cryptography, vulnerable websites, digital forensics and more. The purpose of each challenge was to uncover hidden or restricted information – this is the “flag”. An example in the web challenges section would be to use SQL injection to reveal the flag in the website database. A forensic example might be finding information that has been hidden in an image using steganography. This “flag”, usually some sort of pun or phrase, is then submitted to the central scoreboard, scoring that team points. Challenges are worth a variety of points depending on their difficulty, and easier challenges are designed to give students an idea of how to tackle harder challenges. Students really enjoyed the day whilst gaining hands on experience. Prizes were awarded to the winning team members.

ECS is awarded Athena Swan Bronze

November 2015

We in ECS congratulate ourselves on having been awarded the Athena Swan Bronze, and to celebrate this Dr Karen Johnson has structured ECS first of many Women in Engineering and Computing Sciences (WECS), termly informal meetings where the women of ECS, staff and students, will get together to discuss any issues they see relevant to encouraging women to stay in the engineering sector. The first of these meetings will be on Friday 4th December at 1pm in ECS Staff Common Room. If you have any questions about how the School is engaging with Athena Swan, please contact our ECS Athena Swan Representative Dr Karen Johnson. Our Athena Swan action plan is also available on duo and if anyone wishes to provide helpful comment it would be most welcome. Pictured left, ECS's Dr Sarah Drummond with Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS FREng at the award ceremony in London.

More details about Athena Swan awards can be found at:

Bonfire night Careers Event

November 2015

The School of Engineering and Computing Sciences has a long history of collaborating with a wide range of companies world-wide. These collaborations have led to a many high-impact publications and significant Industrial Partnership Relations. Representatives from several companies came to ECS Atrium Thursday 5th November between 13.00 and 15.00, to discuss and advertise graduate recruitment and internship for summer vacation placement opportunities for both Computer Scientists and Engineers. Pictured some of the companies represented at the event: Caterpillar Inc,Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. Scott Logic, a bespoke software development company, PWS Distributors Ltd a UK distributors of kitchen components. Labman Automation Ltd who design and manufacture complete robotic solutions for pharmaceutical, and analytical labs. IHC Engineering Business Ltd, as part of Royal IHC (IHC), IHC Engineering Business (IHC EB) designs, builds and supplies specialist equipment for offshore oil and gas, submarine telecoms. Current research funding for activities at both Postgraduate and Postdcotoral level comes from companies in our industrial partnerships.

Atmospheric Monitoring

November 2015

Friday saw the opening of the new exhibition of drawings by Stephen Livingstone, ECS “Leverhulme Artist in Residence”. The series of drawings entitled "Atmospheric Monitoring" were made in response to the work of ECS Dr Karen Johnson who is exploring the links between minerals and carbon in soil. Minerals are known to stabilise organic carbon in sediment, affecting biogeochemical cycles and global climate, but the stabilisation mechanism is not fully understood. Manganese oxide, a common mineral in soils and ocean sediments, can trap organic carbon transforming it from an unstable to a stable form.

Stephen has used manganese oxide pigment which he has refined from material retrieved as a by-product of water treatment processes. The pigment has been "butterfly printed" onto charts used to record temperature and humidity levels in the ECS workshops. Random splashes are given and symmetry by the folding of the paper, producing images which suggest maps of land masses or weather patterns, or perhaps of sections through the human brain.

Read the full account and see how Stephen achived the finished drawings

Winners of Images of Technology @Durham 2015

November 2015

Pictured left to right: Professor David Wood presenting first prize of £150 to ECS postgraduates Stephen Bonner, John Brennan and Carl Nelson, for their joint still image submission of ‘Solar Spots in Medical Data’

Also pictured is ECS research associate Dr Linzi Dodd being presented with the runner up prize of £50 for her submission of ‘Ratchets. Linzi also won 3rd prize in Images of Technology @Durham 2014 for her submission of ‘Microgripper Wafer’. Not able to attend the presentation was ECS postgraduate runners up Tom Rowan for his still image submission of ‘Ram pump sensing ‘and Konstantinos Krestenitis for two video submissions entitled 'DEM with Triangles (Minion Character) and ‘Minion DEM with Edges’ Tom and Konstantinos will also receive a certificate and £50 each for their submissions. All of the prize winning images can be seen on the screens located in the foyer of ECS Christopherson building. You will also find instructions on how to enter Images of Technology @Durham 2016

UK Electricity Mix app under development by former ECS student

October 2015

Dr Andrew Crossland, a Solar Design Engineer for the company "Solar Century" is a former student of the School of Engineering & Computing Science. Andrew is in the process of developing a new phone app which mimics the basic functionality of grid watch, i.e. an app which allows you to check what the UK electricity mix is at any given moment. He has a contract with the balancing market to allow this and he is using the money to support off-grid energy in developing countries. Search for "My Grid GB" in the app store. Andrew received funding under the Durham Energy Institute Small Grants Scheme for his pilot project entitled “Can enhanced electrical storage unlock off-grid photovoltaic systems in rural Rwanda?”.

Read the full story here

The challenges of programming supercomputers

October 2015

"A billion billion, i.e. 10^18 computer operations per second (1 exaflop/s), is the level of performance that the next generation of supercomputers should be able to deliver. However, programming such supercomputers is a challenge. On 1 October 2015, the European Commission began funding ‘’ExaHyPE’’, an international project coordinated at the Technische Universität München (TUM), which seeks to establish new algorithms for exascale supercomputers in the next four years. The aim is to develop novel software, initially for simulations in geophysics and astrophysics, which will be released as open-source software for further use. The grant totals EUR 2.8 million. The research partner in Durham is ECS' Tobias Weinzierl. More ..."