MicroTech 2016

23 March 2016

David Czerski attended and presented a poster at this year’s IMAPS MicroTech 2016 conference on sensors, MEMS and advanced packaging hosted by Heriot-Watt University. Exhibitors at the conference included Filtronic, Optocap, Unisem, and Gen3 Systems among others displaying some of their test and assembly equipment.  Academic exhibitors included The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Strathclyde.

The conferenced started with talks from industry, Semefab and Kelvin Nanotech discussing the companies’ initial set up, facilities and future developments. This section of the conference was finished by a talk from Prof. Marc Desmuilliez on development of a novel microwave curing oven.

What followed was a discussion on engaging with industry, featuring academics from HWU and UCL, and industry representatives from Cirrus Logic and Finmeccanica. The group discussed challenges and benefits from academic and industry joint projects, covering areas of communication, timelines and IP.

This was followed by a “30 second” presentation from each person presenting posters before the poster session started. Posters where from Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt Universities featuring a range of topics from thin films technologies to bio-inspired MEMS devices.

Next were talks on MEMS. Systems Plus discussed how wearables are now driving demand for MEMS, pushing towards smaller, lower power consuming and low costs systems.  Kiaim spoke of their transceiver technology combining MEMS with optical waveguides for hybrid circuits. And Cirrus Logic stressed how packaging is a fundamental part of the system design and not an afterthought.

The final session on advanced packaging had Unisem tell us about packaging technologies for MEMS products and the technologies that have become a standard in the industry. Andrew Holland replaced one of the programme’s speakers who could not make it, and we learnt of the “Bean IoT” sensor that he is developing and hoping to have on the market in the next year.  A low power sensor the size and shape of bean, carrying a number of sensors including temperature, gyroscope, CO2, with wireless charging. METBS then spoke of packaging requirements for high reliability applications, medical sector, defence and aerospace.

The MircoTech conference was a great opportunity to learn about current developments and challenges in the semiconductor and microelectronic assembly and packaging industry. Offering a chance to meet with industry and academics in the area and hear their concerns and thoughts on opportunities for the future of the sector.


with thanks to Piers Tremlett – Hon Secretary IMAPS-UK for some of the photographs

When I signed up for “I’m an Engineer – Get me out of here!” (IAEGMOOH), I did not know what I was getting myself into. IAEGMOOH is a free two-week online event where school students get the chance to interact with engineers in an X-Factor style competition. During these two weeks students can ask questions in several 30 minutes live chats or in a forum.

Engineers register for this event by giving a one sentence summary of their work in as simple and fun terms as possible. I was very happy when I got invited to participate in the March edition of IAEGMOOH this year. In this edition, nearly 50 schools interacted with 25 engineers across 5 different zones on topics such as food, fuel, metre, surgery and robotics. I got chosen for the Robotics Zone to compete against engineers working on underwater robots, robots for the food industry and even Europe’s first Mars Rover!

Based on the live chats and responses to questions asked in the forum, the students would vote for their favourite engineer to win a prize of £500. The votes were collected throughout the duration of the event and each day during the second week, the engineer with the least votes got evicted. It was indeed a nerve-racking X-Factor moment as the names of those leaving the process were announced during live chats! The winning engineer of each zone will have to spend the prize money on activities to publicly promote engineering.

Although I did not win the competition, I survived the evictions and made it to the finals! These two weeks have been so much fun – but also challenging! In most of the live chats we were constantly bombarded with all sorts of questions ranging from “What is your favourite food?”, “What is the best thing about your job?” to “If robots more intelligent than humans are created, will they be able to create robots more intelligent than themselves?” and “Does being a female effect the way you’re treated being a scientist?”. Overall, it was amazing to see how interested students were in robotics!  I think it is fantastic that IAEGMOOH gives students the chance to ask questions they normally would not ask or could not get answered that easily.  

I hope that these two weeks have been inspiring to the students and will possibly have an ongoing impact on their career by giving them an idea of how versatile engineering can be. IAEGMOOH was also a great learning experience for me. I got to know what students are interested in (it is not just One Direction) and how to communicate my research to year 5 to 12 students. The most rewarding for me, however, was to see how students connected with us engineers.

I would like to thank everyone who made this event possible and such a great experience – especially the students! :)

Melanie Zimmer, CDT-EI Cohort 2 Student

More information about IAEGMOOH can be found here: http://imanengineer.org.uk/

Apply now for the next event, taking place 13th–24th June, at imanengineer.org.uk/engineers-apply

What does the Carolan guitar, waste water, petrol tankers and meteorology have in common? 

The LATi Expert Exchange on ‘Connecting to the Internet of Things’ gave an exciting glimpse into the future of IoT, and the diverse and interesting applications that the technology is being used for.

The LATi Expert Exchange, which was held at the Advanced Technology Innovation Centre (ATIC) at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park on 17 March, brought together scientists, engineers and technologists interested in how they can exploit this new technology.

Kicking off the presentations was Professor Steve Benford from the University of Nottingham. Steve introduced a new technology called Artcodes, which allows information about an object to be embedded in digital codes. This was demonstrated with the Carolan guitar featuring Celtic inspired decorative patterns. When scanned using the Artcodes app each decorative pattern will tell a different story; the history of making the guitar, playsets and stories from its ‘owners’, overall creating a digital footprint for the object. Other applications for this technology include wallpaper, homes, cars and even wargaming miniatures.

Three companies followed Steve’s presentation, Martin Croft from Dynamic Flow technologies Ltd, Michael Belcher from Datalink Electronics and Simon Massey, Campbell Scientific Europe. Each gave insight into their recent developments and current thoughts about increasing connectivity between products and systems. Martin Croft and Michael Belcher gave demonstrations of recent technology developments. Martin spoke about the waste water sensing and the technology they have developed, which is in use today by some water companies.  Martin also showed a portable mini Infrared sensor (SCiO Lab) that uses a smartphone app to show present the results ‘molecular fingerprint’. This was an example of where they could go next. Dynamic Flow Technologies Ltd is working with Loughborough University to explore new development opportunities.  Michael spoke intelligent petrol tank refuelling and described how the final product evolved to meet the needs of the end user. He demonstrated wireless sensor nodes and described how the ‘intelligence’ in sensor networks (such as home energy apps) is in the ability to learn from historic data. Simon provided an overview of how Campbell Scientific’s products have evolved to meet end-user requirements. They are seeing an increasing desire from the end-users to provide meaningful data on demand, and this has allowed Campbell Scientific to develop data management software and mobile apps such as LoggerLink to present the data in desired formats when required.  

Overall this expert exchange provided a good platform for individuals in the space to hear what the internet of things means to companies, how it is being used and to discuss some of the opportunities and challenges being faced.

Lightweight materials are the next pit-stop in the challenge of reducing mass, and therefore curb emissions, to improve fuel economy in the vehicle industry.

Current estimates suggest that global levels of CO2 may still be rising by 2050. By that date UK authorities have promised to cut CO2 emissions from transport by 80%. Current reductions have been gained by improvements in engine performance but these gains are diminishing. To meet the carbon emissions target we need to reduce vehicle mass. For example, a car the size of a Ford Focus would need to reduce mass by about 300kg (from ~1200kg to ~900kg).  The car industry needs to find a way to manufacture lightweights without adding production cost in the shorter term.

Loughborough University and Far UK Ltd, a Nottingham-based innovative low-volume tailored vehicle designer and manufacturer, have joined forces to explore the concept of novel and engineered structures, multifunctional materials bespoke for their mechanical properties, and manufactured in a cost-benefit and continuous fashion using Sonication technology that allows on-demand tailoring of porosity. This exciting research program has just secured co-funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

 This collaboration is developing new technology in the production of carbon fibre and glass fibre porous composite beams as well as natural fibres, which are seen to have a positive impact on the Life Cycle Analysis of the process. The continuous extrusion process moves away from traditional high waste composite manufacturing methods. It offers flexibility in the dimensions and the tailored structural beams require minimal tooling. This novel manufacturing technology could also work for other sectors e.g. heavy goods vehicles and rail.


Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez, from the Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab in the Wolfson School, is working towards developing new products and manufacturing protocols to design and manufacture engineered porosity structures that combine high-spec of mechanical properties and low weight.

 Dr Kevin Lindsey, Far UK Ltd, Technical Director, says "The business opportunity is to manufacture structures and components for the new range of low weight vehicles. This ambition is currently wing-clipped by the lagging behind of the traditional manufacturing technologies in the automotive sector. In collaboration with Loughborough University we will develop a breakthrough cost-effective manufacturing process to create the most efficient structures that enable low-carbon vehicles"

This programme of research presents a new avenue for high value manufacturing and helps support the UK knowledge base, economy and jobs.

A unique part of the CDT-EI programme is the leadership and management training which all our students undertake. In partnership with the Glendonbrook Centre for Enterprise Development at Loughborough University our students gain learn about enterprise and entrepreneurship, leadership and key business skills often cited to be missing in PhD graduates. The results are that all our students are comfortable and confident in working with industrial partners and they obtain an international recognised qualification in leadership and management from the Institute of Leadership and Management



Hosted by Loughborough University’s Graduate School, “Using Media to Publicise Your Research” was a one-day training event for researchers and academics to help familiarise them with interactions with the media. Both of the speakers were ex-BBC journalists with a wealth of experience in dealing with academics.

The first exercise entailed describing my research to an imaginary class of 12-year-olds, a surprisingly difficult task for researchers who spend the majority of their time discussing their work with their peers.

The speakers gave some insight into being a journalist in order to help us academics work with them. They opened with “The first rule of journalism: First simplify, then exaggerate”. Academics are often found guilty of making things too complicated and trying to cover too many aspects of their work. Keeping the content to a minimum with only one or two take home messages is a must when dealing with media. Other tips included replacing nouns with verbs in headlines or titles, what makes a good news story and what journalists find difficult to work with.

Following this, the speakers staged and scenario to demonstrate how to take control of an interview. This was particularly useful for parrying difficult or awkward questions and answering questions with the answers you have planned to provide.

The second half of the session involved a 3-minute interview that was videoed to review later. I was given my first question, as this is often the case in an interview. With that in mind, I had to organise some background material and prepare for the interview. Each participant had their interview recorded and we all gave feedback on the videos at the end. A few things became clear, maintain eye contact with your interviewer, resist from moving or fidgeting and definitely do not look into the camera. After reviewing the feedback, we all had the opportunity to do another 3-minute interview, this time with different questions.

This event served as a basis for some of the skills needed to communicate my research to a wider audience. The common pitfalls are fairly obvious once they are explained but acting on them in another task entirely. Having completed this course, I would feel much more comfortable talking to media or a wider, non-academic audience about my research. However, the way to really improve and develop confidence is through practise.

Joe Holt, Cohort 1

Last week cohort 2 researcher Ruben Kruiper attended the FutureEverything Digital Research Outreach and Impact Lab 'Designing effective engagement and communication for research and innovation' workshop organised by the Digital Economy Network.

The event was aimed at PhD students carrying out research in the following areas:

  • Digital and creative innovation
  • Social and civic innovation
  • Urban applications of new technologies including physical computing, the Internet of Things and big/open data.

Ruben has commented "Open prototyping can be very powerful in gathering insights and understandings. This workshop by FutureEverything, who describe open prototyping as developing and testing a concept or process through input from external contributors, was focussed amongst others on identifying the people you want to gather information from. Whether they are end-users, stakeholders or the audience of your research output should determine the way you approach and involve them. By defining how to reach your audience and why you would use certain communication channels, you start reformulating your research into a more concise, understandable manner.

All in all, it was an interesting workshop that was attended by PhD students from a variety of backgrounds. It was a pleasure to meet these people from CDTs in Nottingham, Lancaster, Newcastle and Bath."

The second International Data and Information Management Conference (IDIMC) was held by the Centre for Information Management at Loughborough University on 12th and 13th January 2016.


The conference aimed to bring together researchers, managers and policy makers from academia, industry, government, commerce and the third sector. To follow on from the 2014 conference, ‘Making connections’, the overarching theme of this conference was ‘Exploring our digital shadow’.

The first day focussed on early career researchers, with a programme including a selection of workshops designed to hone skills in information management research. The second day comprised a series of invited and contributed papers and posters with a broad appeal across the sector. There were excellent networking opportunities throughout both days.

Melanie Zimmer, Cohort 2 student, was one of the CDT-EI students who attended the conference and had this to say;

"Even though the "International Data and Information Management Conference" was not directly targeted to my PhD topic, I - as a PhD student half way through my first year - gained a lot from attending it. During the first day of the conference I attended speakers would talk about "The digital transformation of defence operations in the 21st century", but also share their opinions on "8 ways to develop your research". Two workshop sessions were offered in each of which one out of four workshops could be chosen.  Especially "Writing journal and conference papers" and "Reflections on the 'how'. Reconsidering research methods in Information Systems", in which skillful researchers would share their experiences, were really helpful for me.  Also of interest was the "5 minutes madness" session I which other PhD students had to present their research within 5 minutes. Although the conference was aimed at a broad audience, I felt it perfectly focused on PhD students and early career researchers."

With thanks to IDIMC for the photograph.

The proceedings of the conference can be downloaded here.


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