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Department of Engineering


Evolving electronics' could lead to new electrical devices

September 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

September 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 ..."

Honourable Mention from FAU Open Research Challenge

October 2015

Team Durham is being awarded with a Honourable Mention from the FAU Open Research Challenge for its similar excellent submission to the photonic technologies challenge. Congratulations for the close second place! The team consists of three members from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University. Pictured left to right: Florian Bryce Soulard (PhD Researcher), Richard McWilliam (Research Fellow) and Alan Purvis (Professor in Electronic Engineering). The fourth member is Joshua Cowling, Senior Applications Engineer at IBEX Innovations.

Durham solar-powered car to race prototypes in Australia

October 2015

A lightweight car which is powered by the sun and was designed and created by students from Durham University is preparing for its biggest challenge. The engineering students' solar-powered vehicle, which cost tens of thousands of pounds to create, is about to compete against 50 other prototypes in a 3,000km (186 mile) race across the Australian Outback. Durham team leader Toby McBride says the team, which has spent the last three years putting the car together, are confident it can perform well and could even win. Watch the video.

Durham Climbs 13 places in the THE World University Rankings

October 2015
The THE World University Rankings 2015-16 are now live and Durham has climbed 13 places from 83rd last year to 70th which follows our recent successes in the QS World University Rankings (up 31 places to 61st) and the Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide (5th in the UK).

ECS welcomes visit from esteemed Professor Yuxiang Li (School of Physics, Shandong University, China)

September 2015

In March of this year ECS was pleased to welcome Professor Yuxiang Li (School of Physics, Shandong University, China) Professor Yuxiang Li was a visiting researcher (with Prof Petty) Professor Li funded this visit with a granted she obtained from the Chinese Scholarship Council.

The China Scholarship Council (CSC) is affiliated with the Ministry of Education and its objective is to provide, financial assistance to the Chinese citizens wishing to study abroad and to the foreign citizens wishing to study in China in order to develop the educational, scientific and technological, and cultural exchanges and economic and trade cooperation between China and other countries, to strengthen the friendship and understanding between Chinese people and the people of all other countries, and to promote world peace and the socialist modernization drive in China.

Professor Li visit was for six months returning to china in August 2015 further strengthening the the bonds between Durham University and Shandong University, China

Durham risen 31 places in the QS World University Rankings

September 2015

Durham University has risen from 92nd last year to 61st in the 2015-16 rankings. This is Durham's highest ever position in this influential league table of higher education establishments. This highly unusual rise is largely due to a long overdue process of data normalisation by QS, which has corrected an imbalance that previously gave an unwarranted advantage to institutions with large science and medical research establishments. Durham scores particularly highly (world rank 54) in terms of citations, a measure of how influential the research at Durham is amongst the global academic community, and employer reputation (world rank 31), which is based on a survey of employer perception of graduates.

Durham’s placement in the 2015-16 QS rankings is fully merited and reflects extremely well on all of the University’s staff, whom have worked extremely hard to achieve this excellent result. VICE-CHANCELLOR Stuart Corbridge Said "This is a marvellous start to my tenure at Durham and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts. Our strategic aim must be to further improve our position in the years to come, cementing Durham’s position as one of the world’s leading universities".

50th Anniversary Event 15th September 2015

Our 50th Anniversary is an important milestone in the School's history. The 50th anniversary took place in Durham, with an afternoon of free activities held in the School, and followed by a enjoyable get together dinner for the attending alumni. This was held in the evening at Durham Castle.

Northeast university showcase

August 2015

22 September 2015 Durham University is to host the NEPIC event which will bring industry together with the region’s 5 universities to showcase process sector innovation and expertise and facilitate academic-industrial collaboration.
In excess of eighty, 5 minute pitches covering outstanding science, specific offerings and specialist facilities will be delivered under eight themes: Chemistry, Chemistry and Biotechnology, Process Engineering, Bioprocessing, IT/Data Processing, Business Services, Manufacturing, Energy & Low Carbon
These sessions will not only enable business to find new technology to licence and highlight technical expertise and specialist facilities, but also demonstrate specific offerings available to industry and collaborative opportunities. There will be a total of 12 pitches for each theme which will be updated and added to as the event progresses.

Download the pdf for all you need to know about the event, extra activities on the day and details on how to book your place.


Students rediscover maths

July 2015

ECS Postdoctoral Research Associate Alejandro Erickson, has designed a course to help widen access to top universities for outstanding pupils from non-selective state schools.

The course designed for the Brilliant Club is based on Alejandro's PhD research entitled "Monomino-Domino Tatami Coverings" where the students "rediscover" some mathematical structure related to his work in their final assignment. Feed back from the students was they found the course very engaging, one particular student assignment will be published in the charity's journal.

UK students from non-selective state schools are under-represented at top universities; schools are increasingly accountable for progression to higher education; there is a shortage of high quality development opportunities for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers; and universities are committed to recruiting more pupils from low-participation backgrounds. The Brilliant Club primary activity is to recruit, train and place doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in non-selective state schools and sixth form colleges serving low participation communities to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials to small groups of outstanding pupils, which develop the knowledge, skills and ambition that help those pupils to secure places at top universities. Working together with schools, colleges and universities, building a national movement that mobilises doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to engage with challenging schools and to address educational disadvantage more broadly. Over 250 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers are placed in schools to work with more than 5000 pupils, delivering programmes from Year 6 through to Year 12. and currently working with over 150 schools and colleges in the UK.

Insight to energy modelling

July 2015

Chris Dent (ECS/DEI) and Amy Wilson (Math Sci/ECS) attended the annual conference of the “Whole Systems Energy Modelling” consortium on whose advisory board Chris sits.

The overall aim of the 2nd annual conference of the Whole Systems Energy Modelling (wholeSEM) consortium is to present energy models, to compare and contrast approaches, and to discuss the insights they provide. The conference explored the linkages between different areas that have traditionally been analysed with separate methodologies. This includes an understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of current energy modelling, conceptual issues in combining disciplinary approaches, and the benefits and pitfalls of hard- and soft-linking of energy models.

Chris gave a presentation on “Linking energy systems models to real systems: model calibration and emulation” arising from Amy’s work with Chris and with Michael Goldstein on the EPSRC project “Uncertainty Analysis of Hierarchical Energy Systems Models”.

Chris and Amy along with Manolis Loukarakis (DEI/ECS) also visited Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Sandia National Laboratory to give seminars arising from their work at Durham and to discuss opportunities for future collaboration and people exchanges.

Sam and Finlay recommend grasshopper kebabs

June 15

ECS Engineering students Sam Shuttleworth and Finlay Milner Grub project has won npower’s Future Leaders enterprise competition which includes a trip to the Amazon.
Sam and Finlay spent months trying to convince people to make eating insects part of their everyday diet, arguing that consuming bugs is both good for your health and good for the planet. The competition was covered regionally by Durham Times, Sam and Finlay flew out to the South American rainforest on Monday (June 15); and will help the Huni Kai people install solar panels and a sun-powered water pump.
Speaking ahead of his departure, Finlay said: “We still can’t believe we’re off to the Amazon in a matter of days. We’re all so excited to have this opportunity and have been preparing equipment and keeping ourselves fit and healthy for the trip. “We look forward to this amazing experience and bringing back our learning from the indigenous people in the hope of changing the way we think and live.”
Far from I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’s Bushtucker Trials, the pair say their insect dishes such as chocolate-covered crickets, banana, walnut and mealworm cake and grasshopper kebabs are delicious as well as nutritious.

ECS student wins IET "Best MSc Project Award"

June 2015

Toby Frankau, final year student in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences (ECS), has won this years "IET Vision and Imaging Network Student Project Award" for "Best MSc Project". Toby's thesis "A Light-Weight Monocular Vision Approach for Autonomous Vehicle Navigation" helped gained him a first class MEng degree at Durham and he will be taking part in the graduation ceremony in Durham Cathedral on Wednesday 24th June. Toby will be formally presented with his award by IET at a later date but, he will be presented with certificate at the ECS prize giving celebrations, after the graduation ceremony along side his Class of 2015 graduate companions. Pictured here is Toby with his project vehicle and attached is his poster for project details.


ECS produces another "Rising Star"

June 2015

On Monday 15th June this year, ECS computer science final year student, Jack Barnsdale, participated in the Fifth Rising Stars Research Symposium. Jack who graduates this year, exhibited a poster outlining his final year research project entitled, "Automated scale selection using a scale space local search" supervised by Dr Boguslaw Obara.

The Rising Stars Research Symposium, founded in 2011, is the DU Faculty of Science's student research conference, celebrating excellence and originality amongst the University's undergraduate scientists. Seminars and posters are given by outstanding final-year undergraduate students from each of the schools and departments within the faculty. These usually include work undertaken as part of their final-year research project. More information on the symposium can be found here

Pictured here (left), is Jack receiving his certificate from Professor Thomas Ward (right) from Department of Mathematical Sciences and durham University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education .

For enquiries contact

Prof. Tom McLeish, Dr. Ritu Kataky, Dr. Euan Magennis, (P&G), Prof Elena Lurie-Luke (P&G), Dr. Tim Hammond

Durham University research partnership with world-leading company wins prestigious award


Durham University’s research and development strengths have been highlighted with a prestigious award celebrating partnerships with industry.

The University and Procter & Gamble (P&G) won the Royal Society of Chemistry Teamwork in Innovation Award for 2015.

The annual award recognises outstanding examples of teamwork in promoting innovation through industry-academia partnerships

Durham’s collaboration with P&G, which started in 2009, has resulted in more than 50 joint research projects across the world.

Initially a team of 30 academics and PhD students from Durham University’s departments of Chemistry and Physics, and the University’s Biophysical Sciences Institute (BSI), worked closely with P&G scientists at the Newcastle Innovation Centre. This has since become a formalised strategic partnership involving academics from Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Psychology, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and the Business School at Durham University working with P&G scientists across the world.

More than 200 researchers have been involved in creating new molecules for applications in homecare and personal products, and new methodologies for understanding the roles and mechanisms of key active ingredients to improve the performance of consumer goods.

The researchers have also developed theoretical understanding to underpin experimental results and help predict future product innovations.

Professor Tom Mcleish FRS, strategic lead to the Durham University-P&G Partnership, said: “At Durham we treasure the multiple ways in which our partnership with P&G enriches the University and the ways in which academic research can both give value to and benefit from collaboration with the wider community locally and globally.

“We are delighted that the Royal Society of Chemistry has chosen to recognise the importance of forming creative, long-term, strategic and multi-level working partnerships between universities and businesses with this award.”

Dr David Jakubovic, P&G strategic lead to the Durham University-P&G partnership said: “We have enjoyed a successful, mutually beneficial relationship with Durham.

“Our research programme with Durham University is focused against some of our toughest innovation challenges and our collaboration has delivered world class research outcomes and superior innovation for our consumers. “We are delighted that the Royal Society of Chemistry has recognised our Industry/University partnership with this award.”

Professor John Evans, partnership lead in Durham’s Department of Chemistry, said: “It’s been incredibly rewarding to work with talented colleagues from Durham and P&G and to see the genuine impact that fundamental scientific research can have on product innovation.

“Chemistry at Durham was ranked top in the 2014 REF exercise for the impact of its research and our relationship with P&G is one of the core elements of our outward-facing programme.”

Dr Robert Parker, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “Whether they work in research, industry or academia, our winners are the very best in their fields, and they can be very proud to follow in the footsteps of some of the most influential and important scientists around the world.

“In a complex and changing world, chemistry and the chemical sciences are vital in responding to some of humanity’s biggest challenges and our prize and award winners are at the forefront of meeting that challenge.”

Durham University is recognised by P&G as a "best in class" academic partner which follows an innovative approach to University- business partnering where research needs and research capabilities of both partners have been carefully mapped and core areas of mutual interest identified.

Durham academics are now linked with P&G researchers in locations ranging from Newcastle to Frankfurt, Brussels, Beijing and Cincinnati in areas including surface sciences, biophysical and life sciences, manufacturing and consumer psychology.

Durham has entered into a Master Collaboration Agreement which establishes the University as a core strategic research partner of P&G.

Energy policy under the new Conservative government

May 2015

Following the surprise results of last week’s general election Dr Chris Dent, DEI Co-Director for Impact and senior lecturer in engineering, analyses the Conservative manifesto to identify what the new Government’s energy policies are likely to be. He identifies a tension between an emphasis on affordability and security of supply in the manifesto and environmental commitments expressed personally by leading figures of the party. Only time will tell how this tension will play out in actual policy over the next 5 years. you can read more about Energy Policy here.

ECS continues to welcome students from Brazil

May 2015

Durham University is one of 70 UK universities participating in the Science without Borders Programme. This scheme awards scholarships to outstanding Brazilian scientists and students for one-year study abroad programmes, full PhDs, Sandwich PhDs and exchange at postdoctoral research level.

The Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the Faculty of Science, Professor Patrick Hussey, visited Brazil in June 2012 with a delegation of heads of science departments to strengthen links with Brazilian universities. Since that time, each academic year, ECS has welcomed and supported "Science Without Borders" Computing Science students from Brazil and this current academic year ECS has welcomed another five Brazilian students into Engineering. Pictured here front left to right: Beatrice Silveira Da Silva, Julia Gomes Pinto Carapia', Ana Paula Aono, Beatrice Zaeyen De Oliveira E Silva and last but certainly not least, at the back is Luis Vinicius Ribeiro Roor:Gues. As part of the agreement with their home universities we will be providing the students summer internships working on projects areas such as:

- Energy, new and renewable.
- Geotechnics
- Structures

Find out more information on "Science Without Borders UK"

Durham University creating and renewing partnerships with Saudi Arabia

May 2015

Pictured here with some of Saudi Arabia's Durham University Alumni, is the Ambassador to the British Embassy in Riyadh, Mr Simon Collis. Left to right: Nicola Woodget (press & political Officer) from the British Embassy Riyadh, Mr Chris Macallister Durham University International Office, Dr Boguslaw Obara from Durham's School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Far right is Dr Liadi Mudashiru also of Durham University International Office. The group were attending the Gala Alumni Networking Dinner at the Saudi Arabia British Embassy in Riyadh.

Links to more images of the Durham delegates trip to Saudi Arabia

Durham-Taif University Partnership Agreement Meeting
Durham stand at The International Exhibition & Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Durham-Qassim University Partnership Renewal Meeting
Gala Alumni Networking Dinner in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia British Embassy Riyadh

Simon Hogg & Christopher Crabtree (Engineering and Computing Sciences): £224k from EPSRC for ‘EPSRC SUPERGEN Wind Hub’.

May 2015

Led by Durham, Strathclyde and Loughborough Universities, the Hub aims to continue to develop the important academic, industrial and policy links that were established during the earlier phases of the SUPERGEN Wind programme (2006-2014), to lead the technology strategy for driving forward UK wind energy research and for exploiting the research outcomes. The Hub is funded for 5 years to 2019.

Recovering energy can be exhausting work. “If the engine is on, it works.”

April 2015

Around 45 per cent of engine power is dissipated as heat via the exhaust, according to Professor David Wood from Durham University’s microsystems technology group in the School of Engineering and Computing sciences. Even though others had looked at ways to recover this heat, all had flaws, which prompted his team to see if there was a better way.“This is worth doing even if it look daunting,” he said. “It is worth doing and it is achievable. As a university, we can afford to do things that are a little more speculative.” He said the most significant advantage exhaust pipe energy recovery had over other methods was that it worked all the time. “The exhaust is always hot,” he said. “If the engine is on, it works. You are literally throwing a huge amount of energy away down the exhaust.” However, he said recovering this energy had to be done without interfering with the airflow as that could damage the way the car worked. “So we looked at the outer surface of the exhaust and looked at the radiant heat,” he said. “This accounts for around 10 to 20% of the energy.” He said witht a Jaguar four-litre V8, they estimated they could recover up to 17kW. If the system was 100% efficient it could lead to a 4 to 9% cut in CO2 emissions.The team used an antenna style device for picking up radiated heat. However, the circuit needed a very fast switching diode, so they designed their own. The result though was only producing microwatts of energy. So they designed a wrap that goes round the exhaust that could contain 1012 devices, and they reckon this could be made within a couple of years for about $100. “We have talked to one or two car makers about this,” said Professor Wood, “but we are still at an early stage.

IMechE Undergraduate Design Challenge

April 2015

THREE of the region’s universities went head to head in a design competition.

Students from Durham, Teeside and Sunderland contested the regional final of the IMechE Undergraduate Design Challenge. They were challenged to design a small vehicle capable of climbing up and down a pipe carrying a chain, with a £20 budget. The event, held at Durham's School of Engineering and Computing Sciences on Wednesday (April 22), featured presentations, a poster competition and a race of the students’ vehicles. The race winners were Sunderland, who will compete in the national final in London in October. Teesside will also attend, as runners-up. Pictured here Durham's ECS team Daniel Judkowski, Samuel Booth, Alice Atkins and John Chouard won the poster and presentation sections. Organisers said the event had gone very well.

Read more about the event in the Northern Echo

Top ranking success in The Complete University Guide

April 2015

The Complete University Guide’s new rankings for 2016 show an excellent performance for both Engineering and Computer Science at Durham. General Engineering is ranked 2nd in the UK, up two places from 5th last year, and Computer Science is ranked 7th in the UK out of more than one hundred Computer Science courses across the country. As well as success for the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Durham performed well across the board; Durham is once again only University to have every course now ranked in the UK top ten in the 2016 Complete University Guide, securing Durham’s position as one of the pre-eminent all-round universities in the UK.

GreenFleet Scotland and Evolution Scotland events

April 2015

On the 10th and 11th of April, Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) exhibited the previous generation solar car at the GreenFleet Scotland and Evolution Scotland events at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh. GreenFleet Scotland showcases green transport technology for fleet vehicle, including the latest low carbon, hybrid and EV vehicles Evolution Scotland is a Motor Show that is there to promote the most efficient low carbon and EV cars around, and allows the general public to get behind the wheel of the cars.

Dr. Chiara Bordin and Dr. Mahmoud Shahbazi have joined ECS as Research Associates. Chiara will be working on the EPSRC projects “Pumped Thermal Energy Storage” and “Autonomic Power System”, and Mahmoud on the EPSRC project “High Energy And Power Density (HEAPD) Solutions to Large Energy Deficits”.

Engineering into Schools

April 2015

The ‘Engineering into Schools’ students are final year engineers who spend 40 hours teaching engineering in local schools (primary and secondary). Since engineering isn’t taught in schools, our students provide the schools with an opportunity to get direct engineering expertise Durham University. As well as teaching engineering in a fun and hands-on way, our students convey two important messages to pupils:

1) that anyone can go to University and;

2) anyone can be engineer, male or female.

Local School teacher, Sandra Elliott from Fishburn Primary School rang into Radio 5, to praise one of the Durham engineers, Laura Hind, you can listen to the radio show here:

*Link from radio show*

We also have a ‘Computing Sciences into Schools’ module for final year Computing Scientists. For further information about these modules contact or

Durham researchers explore evolutionary electronics

April 2015

The American Institute of Physics has issued a press release on a recent article in the Journal of Applied Physics by Durham's Centre for Molecular and Nanoscale Electronics.

The article was written by Dr Kieran Massey, a postdoctoral research associate (pictured), and involved Professor Mike Petty, Dr Dagou Zeze, Dr Apostolos Kotsialos, Dr Chris Pearson and Ms Fawada Qaiser. The work was also undertaken in collaboration with the University of São Paulo-USP in Brazil.

This subsequently attracted a significant amount of media attention. For example: watch the Youtube video on Carbon Nanotube for "unconventional" Computing.

A grant has since been awarded to Prof Petty and colleagues by Durham University and the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP) to develop research collaboration with the São Carlos Institute of Physics, Brazil.

The Centre for Molecular and Nanoscale Electronics was established at Durham University in 1987. The Centre consolidates and promotes relevant activities across a number of academic departments within the University, in particular Chemistry, Physics and the School of Engineering and computing Sciences. Much current activity is focused on the nanoscale where dimensions and tolerances in the range 0.1 nm to 100 nm play a critical role.

The group’s research is part of the Nanoscale Engineering for Novel Computation using Evolution project, which is funded by the European Union ( Article title: Computing with Carbon Nanotubes: Optimization of Threshold Logic Gates using Disordered Nanotube/Polymer Composites is also featured in the latest round of research news highlighted in the ENGINEER, KURZWEILai, Science Daily and R&D. More information on the groups research activities can be found at cmne/research activities/

Paul Chambers, recent winner of the Institution of Civil Engineers Emerging Engineers Award.

Paul Chambers (second from left), recent winner of the
Institution of Civil Engineers Emerging Engineers Award.

ICE Emerging Engineers Award Success

March 2015

On Wednesday 18th March, finalist Civil Engineering student Paul Chambers presented his paper on "An Investigation and Analysis of Temporary Propping at Crossrail Paddington" to a panel of adjudicators for the Institution of Civil Engineers Emerging Engineers Award (EEA). This work is based on Paul's final year research project, undertaken in conjunction with Skanska UK and supervised by Prof. Charles Augarde. At the end of the competition, Paul was announced as the winner of the ICE North East EEA final, and will be receiving his prize from the President of the ICE, David Balmforth at the regional annual dinner on the 16th April. The paper will now be shortlisted for the World EEA final, taking place this September in London.

More information can be found on the ICE website:

Sir Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture 2015

March 2015

The third Sir Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture was held on Wednesday, 11th March. This is an event held jointly between the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and the Department of Physics, and is held to honour the memory and celibrate the legacy of Sir Gareth, who was Professor of Applied Physics in Durham between 1976 and 1985, and then went on to produce many reports that influenced government thinking wider higher education and science communities.

ECS Professor David Wood introduced the speaker, who this year wasProfessor Stuart Parkin. After a long and distinguished career at the IBM Almaden Research Centre in San Jose, California, Stuart Parkin is now the Director of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle and also the Alexander von Humboldt Professor at Martin Luther University. The talk was entitled ‘The Spin on Electronics!’, and gave a history of the development of the science and technology behind magnetic disc drives, which has led to a huge expansion of data acquisition and storage capacities, which in turn have underpinned the evolution of large data centres and cloud services. For this work Stuart Parkin was awarded the Millenium Technology Prize in 2014.

There was plenty of time for questions after this excellent talk, and the audience readily engaged with Professor Parkin on the subject matter. We look forward to an equally good event next year.

£260k Project funding from OFCOM

March 2015

Professor Sana Salous School of Engineering and Computing Sciences has secured a grant of £260k from OFCOM for ‘Propagation Research for mm wave bands (30-90 GHz).' Professor Salous said "The grant will extend our mm wave measurement capability to three other frequency bands to conduct propagation studies for the design of future wireless systems. The results of the study will be incorporated into the recommendations of the International Union of Telecommunications (ITU)." For more in formation email at

IET North East competition 2015

March 2015

We are pleased to anounce that Durham ECS students came on top in the IET North East competition and brought home the first prize in Oral Presentation also 1st and 2nd prize in poster presentation.

Congratulations to the winning students, who are in their final year here in ECS, their project titles are as follows:

Pictured left, Andrew Mathieson, “Untethered Autonomous Flight using Visual and Inertial Sensing on an Indoor Blimp” – 1st in Poster Presentation
Pictured right, Matt Potter, poster, “Environmental Modelling of North Sea Currents” – 1st in Oral Presentation. to view the presenation follow the link

Research links with China strengthened for the Mechanics Research Group

March 2015

Oscillatory integrals

Professor Jon Trevelyan, a member of the Mechanics Group, Durham’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, and Dr Jing Gao, of the Department of Mathematics and Xi’an Jiao Tong University, China, have been awarded a Royal Society International Exchanges grant of £11,800 and an accompanying NSFC grant of 100,000 RMB (£10,800). This will pay for a series of international visits between these academics to work on difficult problems involving highly oscillatory integrals. Dr Gao is an applied mathematician who has considerable experience in evaluation of highly oscillatory integrals, including spending a period in Cambridge working with Prof Arieh Iserles. Jon Trevelyan has pioneered the use of oscillatory basis functions to provide accurate, efficient solutions in boundary element wave scattering problems. In this work one of the most challenging aspects is to evaluate these oscillatory integrals. This is an exciting cross-disciplinary project between a mathematician and an engineer.

Wind turbine monitoring

Dr Qing Wang, Lecturer in the School, has received funding to build collaborative links with Tsinghua University, China. She is working with Professor S. Huang of Tsinghua on real-time laser-based metrology techniques to identify displacement in wind turbine shafts. The project duration is two years with a value of £10.5k from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Newton Research Collaboration Programme. She has also received funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering under its Distinguished Visiting Fellowship Programme, to work with Professor W. Zhao, also from Tsinghua, to use advanced evaluation techniques for wind turbine shaft crack detection.

'Women and STEM' Leading up to International Womens Day 2015

March 2015

To mark International Women’s Day 2015, Durham is shining the spotlight on Women in Science. According to the Equality Challenge Unit’s 2014 Statistical Report, women make up 50.6% of students in the UK studying Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or Medicine (collectively known as STEMM subjects); yet only 17.7% of their Professors are female. Durham is committed to addressing this loss of talent and Women in Science is a week of events to raise aspirations and celebrate the achievements of women in science.
ECS is pleased to announce that we will be hosting the final of these events, a visit from Chi Onwurah MP. Chi is coming to talk to staff and students on 'Women and STEM'. The talk will take place on Friday 6th March 2015 in the lead up to "International Womens Day". The talk will take place in Durham University's Calman Learning Centre. Chi Onwurah MP was a electrical engineer in telecommunications for 20 years before being elected to Parliament to represent Newcastle Central in 2010. Chi has been passionate about equality and diversity throughout her career and will talk about her work in Parliament in relation to women and STEM subjects alongside her own personal experiences in the engineering sector. If you would like to know more about Chi Onwurah follow the link

Details about the range of celebration and promotional events over the week can be found on our IWD and Whatson webpages.

Prestigious Annual Lecture

March 2015

We are delighted to announce that Professor Stuart Parkin, Director Max Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics in Germany, will be giving a talk in Durham as part of the annual Sir Gareth Roberts lecture. This is an event organised jointly between the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and the Department of Physics.

The title of the talk is ‘The Spin on Electronics’ and is scheduled for Wednesday 11th March, 4.30 pm in the Sir Arnold Wolfendale lecture theatre, Calman Learning Centre .

The ability to store a complete digital life in a portable hard drive is thanks to the pioneering work in spintronics by Professor Stuart Parkin. His innovations have helped to underpin the evolution of large data centres and cloud services, social networks, music and film distribution online. In 2014 he was awarded the Millenium Technology Prize, where the foundation behind the award said his technology had made Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online services possible. I would encourage you all to put the date in your diaries for what promises to be an excellent talk.

Further details are available at

Ask the Experts

February 2015

During February 2015 the public were invited to tweet in offshore wind questions to @OffshoreWindUK for our panel of experts. ECS and DEI Executive Director, Prof Simon Hogg took part in the‘Ask the Expert’ panel as one of 5 experts for the 'offshore wind works' campaign. These tweets covered a broad range of topics including cost, security of supply, jobs and technology. Questions such as:

  • Can you rely on offshore wind?
  • Is offshore wind still an experimental technology?
  • What is the best first step for someone wanting to start in the industry?

Over the course of one day the panel was filmed giving their responses!