School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

Junior Research Associates

Please note that the existing deadline of March 26th 2018 has been extended to April 16th 2018.

Junior Research Associates 2018

The University of Sussex Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme is a pioneering project which aims to develop future research leaders.  It encourages talented and ambitious undergraduates to consider a career in research following graduation.  The Doctoral School offers a number of JRA bursaries worth up to £1,800 each. Students can either apply with one of the projects below or you can come up with an original proposal yourself (as long as a member of faculty is willing to supervise).

For further information about the scheme and how to apply visit the JRA webpages.

Applicants must be sponsored by a member of faculty so please contact the project supervisor to dicuss the project and application. See below for current projects within the Department of Engineering and Design. Click on the project title to reveal a description:

Sensors4life: Development of sensor based wearable device for maternal and neonatal behaviour

Project Supervisor: Elizabeth Rendon-Morales

Maternal health has seen significant but yet inconsistent improvements over the past 15 years. Reducing the annual global neonatal and maternal deaths by 2.7 million and 303,000 respectively, is of paramount importance. Existing tools for monitoring foetus cardiac activity are inadequate given the challenges posed by the low amplitude of the cardiac signal and the foetus movement during pregnancy. This project aims to investigate, develop and test novel wearable devices based on the electrometer based sensing technology to monitor continuous cardiac activity foetuses non-invasively. The findings will help improving the health of mothers and new-borns and contribute to the reduction of the morbidity rate in pregnant woman and neonates. This project is carried out in partnership with BSMS and Plessey semiconductors LTD. The project would particularly suit students who has electronics engineering background, data collection signal processing and interpretation (to analyse ECG data) or those who have interest in developing medical technology.

Lasers4Medicine: Laser scanning system for 3D objects reconstruction and prosthetic Bio-sculptor

Project Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Rendon-Morales

Laser scanning Bio-sculptor is a new trend in clinical prosthetics and offers many advantages, as it can provide a truly intimate prosthetics fit rather than a superficial fit. Instead of taking a plaster cast, which is traditional in hospitals, we aim on developing a scanning system to reconstruct 3D parts being incredibly fast, efficient and clean. The aim of this project is to control a 24V Polygon Mirror Motor Driver Board to generate a linear scan along the axis of the polygon mirror facets. The student will require to mount the polygon mirror driving board and a set of lenses on a custom designed system together with a laser pointer located perpendicular to the mirror facets to project the linear scan on an object. Images will be reconstructed by moving the object across the linear scan and employing specialized software. The project would particularly suit students who have electrical/electronic background.

Swarm flying drones

Project Supervisor: Dr. Luis Ponce Cuspinera

Additional supervisor: Alejandro Gonzalez

This project would make use of a drone fleet own by the department. The project aims is to program the flying parameters of each drone using Python and/or C++ in order make each drone “aware” of where the other drones are in any given moment. The JRA might also test different sensors and implement a control strategy for the swarm flying formation of the drones. A candidate will need to have some experience with programming and basic circuit design.

FEA Analysis of Innovative 3D Printed Gripper

Project Supervisor: Dr. Luis Ponce Cuspinera

This project investigates Finite Element Analysis of an innovative 3D printed gripper used in soft robotics. Soft robotics is continuously growing since there is high interest in replicating actions/behaviours from living organisms, for this reason a lot of this research focuses on developing systems that use flexible materials (such as rubber).The project involves simulation and analysis of a soft gripper developed at Sussex, after analysing the results there might be a re-design process to make changes and improvements. A successful design that show promising results in simulations will be manufactured for testing.

A candidate needs experience using ANSYS for FEA and 3D modelling of parts and components (Solidworks is an advantage), an interest in 3D printing technologies is desirable.

SensorS4Hawking: Build a thought-controlled Stephen Hawking wheel chair using electrometer based sensors

Project Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Rendon-Morales

The aim of this project is to design a hardware system based on electrometer based sensors to detect facial and visual movements to control a similar system to Stephen Hawking’s well chair (i.e. in a miniaturized setup). The system will be based on electrometer based sensor design developed at Sussex. A HW prototype will collect facial and eye movement’s data, which will require to be processed and interpreted to send commands into a microcontroller (wireless prototype option) for moving a set of DC motors.

Flexible power amplifiers: Simulation of bending plastic electronics

Project Supervisor: Dr. Niko Munzenrieder

Recent developments in semiconductor technology enabled the fabrication of flexible transistors on plastic foils –mainly to realize bendable displays. However, it is often ignored that such displays must also output sound. Unfortunately bending a flexible transistor changes its performance parameters. This makes it difficult to realize flexible power amplifiers to drive loudspeakers, and able to deliver a constant amount of current, and hence a constant volume. Here, the goal is to design and simulate a simple bootstrapped class A power amplifier immune to bending. This is possible using our HSpice simulation models able to consider the influence of mechanical strain.

Use of Image Recognition Software in Product Design

Project Supervisor: Dr. Giovanni J. Contreras

Product Designers in industry must keep track of design trends in their particular industry in order to help their organizations remain competitive. Trend monitoring and forecasting is an activity that can be time consuming, but which cannot be neglected in order to know ‘what’s next.’ While there are some companies that provide trend monitoring and forecasting services, these are expensive and often beyond the reach of small/medium companies. Moreover some of these reports a generic in scope and designers still have to do their own research about the specific products they are designing.

Using cars as an example, this project aims to investigate the use of image recognition software to automatically identify and collect images of products. The findings of this project could help Product Designers to easily build large databases of images of existing products which they could use then for analysis to determine future trends, this in turn could result in considerable savings in time. Students with an interest in Image Recognition and/or Product Design plus an interest and/or notions of Computer Programming would are particularly well suited for this project.

Generative/Degenerative Design Using SolidWorks

Project Supervisor: Dr. Giovanni J. Contreras

Computer-driven Generative Design is the process of using computer algorithms to create objects (2D or 3D) automatically. These objects often result in shapes with aesthetic/structural characteristics that could not have been predicted. This approach can be a competitive advantage in the creation of added-value products. While there are existing tools to do Generative Design in 3D, these tools are not often within the scope of Engineers and Product Designers. Solid Works is one of the most popular CAD packages around the world, widely used by all kinds of Engineers and Product Designers.

This project aims to investigate how to add Generative Design capabilities to SolidWorks by using the software’s ‘Application Programming Interface’ (API). The findings of this project can help Engineers and Designers create more innovative products. Students with notions of Visual Basic and/or C++ programming and an interest in 3D modelling/CAD would be particularly well suited for this project.

Development and fabrication of micro-resonators for conformal sensor systems

Project Supervisor: Dr. Niko Munzenrieder

Electronic systems are generally bulky, which hinders their integration into everyday objects. In contrast, unobtrusive sensors for healthcare or sports could be developed using a large number of tiny, imperceptible, passive and collaborative sensor particles. Here the possibility to realize small LRC circuits including an antenna and a resistive sensor should be explored using the microelectronics fabrication equipment of the Sensor Technology Research Centre. Such microscale particles could be sprinkled on an arbitrary surface, and work in parallel to form a single sensor system. They would then be able to transmit sensor values wirelessly by reflecting and modulating RF signals.

Indoor flying drone

Project Supervisor: Dr. Luis Ponce Cuspinera

Additional supervisor: Alejandro Gonzalez

In this project, the JRA will investigate how to map and model an indoor environment so that the drone can safely fly across a given scenery. The JRA will perform some experiments with flying drones where he/she would test different control algorithms for specific flying settings and will use an Asctec Hummingbird drone in combination with a VICON camera system. A candidate will need to have some experience with C++ programming.

Sensors4zebra: Monitoring the heart development of zebrafish embryos

Project Supervisor: Dr. Elizabeth Rendon-Morales

The study of the electrical properties of the heart at early developmental stages is of scientific importance, as this potentially could allow gaining insight on the originating causes of heart repolarization abnormalities such as congenital cardiac arrhythmias and long/short QT syndrome. This project aims to build 3D positioning electro-mechanical elements as a part of a complete test environment for testing novel sensor developments for applications in cardio-electrophysiology during embryonic stages using zebrafish embryos as a model organism. The aim of this project is to design and control an AC servo system/stepper motor to achieve ultrahigh precision (<50 nm) and high linearity based on a closed loop proportional integral and derivative (PID) system. The findings will help enhancing the research and development of tools for biosciences. This project is carried out in partnership with Plessey semiconductors LTD. The project would particularly suit students who have electronics/mechanical background.

Computer gaming for connected car simulation platform

Project Supervisor: Dr. Zhengguo Sheng

With the development of autonomous and connected vehicles, human behavior and how a driver might react to the evolution of new technologies leaves many avenues to be explored. In this project, we will develop a driving simulator (comprising several modules) to reproduce a realistic driving environment. Young researchers will have the opportunity to develop a software game that connects and controls all this equipment and allows the collection of data from the simulation environment. The analysis of the data will be feedbacked to the design of vehicular networking system to improve safety and efficiency of the road networks as well as provide more enjoyable journeys. Programming skills will be needed for developing software game and Human-machine interface.

School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

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