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School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Dr J P McAllister No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Belfast United Kingdom Electrical Engineering

About the Project

Start Date:1 October 2021

Supervisors: John McAllister (EEECS) and Pantelis Sopasakis (EEECS) In mobile autonomous devices systems such as robots, vehicles or sensing equipment, the need to survive on battery power makes low power operation essential. This is motivating entirely new computing approaches, such as neuromorphic devices whose behaviour mimics that of the brain. There has been an explosion of interest in how approaches such as spiking neural networks (SNNs) can be used to enable processing and cognitions in such systems due to their ability to offer similar features to deep learning with much lower power costs. These advantages make SNNs extremely promising approaches for autonomous devices.

There remain significant challenges in the design of SNNs-based solutions for autonomous data processing. Outstanding issues include efficient algorithms for SNN-based data processing, synthesis of SNN models which achieve specific behaviours, low-cost solutions on programmable hardware devices such as Field Programmable Gate Array, event-driven hardware architectures, and many others. This project will address this problem with a focus on autonomous robots.

•Develop an understanding of the behaviour, key operations and network structure of neuromorphic computing techniques.

•Devise custom neuromorphic systems for the three applications.

•Study techniques for automatic synthesis of SNN models.

•Create demonstrator systems showing the effectiveness of the resulting solutions.


The School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EEECS) aims to enhance the way we use technology in communication, data science, computing systems, cyber security, power electronics, intelligent control, and many related areas.

You’ll be part of a dynamic doctoral research environment and will study alongside students from

over 40 countries worldwide; we supervise students undertaking research in key areas of electronics and

electrical engineering, including: power electronics,robotics, wireless communications, cybersecurity and sensor-based systems. As part of a lively community of over 100 full-time and part-time research students you’ll have the opportunity to develop your research potential in a vibrant research community that prioritises the cross-fertilisation of ideas and innovation in the advancement of knowledge.

Within the School we have a number of specialist research centres including a Global Research Institute, the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) specialising in Cyber Security, Wireless Innovation and Data Science and scalable computing.

Many PhD studentships attract scholarships and top-up supplements. PhD programmes provide our students with the opportunity to acquire an extensive training in research techniques.

Electrical & Electronic Engineering Highlights

Professional Accreditations

  • ECIT brings together, in one building, internationally recognised research groups specialising in key areas of advanced digital and communications technology.

Industry Links

  • CSIT brings together research specialists in complementary fields such as data security, network security systems, wireless-enabled security systems, intelligent surveillance systems; and serves as the national point of reference for knowledge transfer in these areas.
  • Electric Power and Energy Systems research is focused on problems related to distributed sources of energy and their integration into power networks. The cluster is a member of the IET Power Academy and is a major collaborator on all-island energy research.
  • SoCaM is dedicated to the design of advanced, integrated, high-speed wireless and couples activities in High Frequency Electronics, System-on-Chip, Signals and Systems and Digital Signal Processing, and for Gigabit/sec wireless.

World Class Facilities

  • The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology, with state-of-the-art technology, offers a bespoke research environment.

Internationally Renowned Experts

  • You will be working under the supervision of leading international academic experts.

Key Facts

Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in relation to the wide range of research activities undertaken within the School and there are many resources available including:

Access to the Queen's University Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme

A wide range of personal development and specialist training courses offered through the Personal Development programme

Office accommodation with access to computing facilities and support to attend conferences for full-time PhD students

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