Systems Engineering Research Group (SERG)
The Systems Engineering Research Group was established by Dr David Sanders in 1991. The group is multidisciplinary - spanning several science and engineering disciplines but concentrating on systems engineering in three main areas:
In this year the group involved eleven members of Academic Staff, an Associate and eleven Research Students, all spread across four departments.
Dr David Sanders personally oversees the research area of Automation & Robotics. Dr Giles Tewkesbury & Dr Boris Gremont oversee the area of Computing & Electronics and Dr Howard Cawte and Professor Carl Ross oversee the area of Environmental Systems. All three areas continue to be research active.
The group is concentrated in the Department of Mechanical and Design Engineering, rated a Grade 4 UK Research Department in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2001 and rated as having 45% internationally excellent research in the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 but it also consists of academics from:
- Electronic & Computer Engineering
- Computer Science & Software Engineering
- Regional Centre of Excellence
- Institute of Industrial Research
We restructured ourselves a little in order to incorporate some new members of staff and at the start of the year, plans for future funding were reassessed and adjusted to rely more on internal funding from the University and from RAE income and less on external funding. These plans are being reassessed as Faculty initiatives suggest that it may become much better to attract more external income in the future.
Even after restructuring we are still one of the largest research groups.
The research group has continued to represent our profession well and Dr Jasper Graham-Jones was awarded a NESTA Crucible Award; a prestigious award given by the National Endowment for Science and Technology and the Arts (NESTA) to individuals who have shown considerable creativity and future promise. Dr David Sanders continued as a visiting Professor at Stankin University (Russia) and at de-la-Salle University (Philippines) with Professor Mike Purvis and funded by the British Council and a NATO Fellowship.
Industrial links continue to prove fruitful and a review of our research performance indicators show that we surpassed all of the targets established for us in 2008 and both the number of publications and the ratio of journal publications to other publications increased.
Work in collaboration with Counterpoint MTC Ltd has continued to investigate new ways of collaborating, working in design teams and teaching over computer networks. This new work is being extended to investigate the use of intelligent tutoring systems.
Work with Motiontouch Ltd to investigate the improvement of touch screens for laptop computers and signature-capture was completed but continues as Stephen Urwin-Wright is sponsored by Lorna Models to complete his PhD in the area and extend it to investigate Neural Networks following his successful transfer from MPhil to PhD.
Work in collaboration with Motiontouch Ltd has moved on to investigate modular electro-mechanical design and production, new computer aided management, communications and control systems and virtual teams in sub contracting work.
Henry Powell, Gareth Lambert and Shalinin Ramlall have settled in to the research group as new students of Dr David Sanders.
Jorge Bergasa completed his work to investigate collaboration and teaching over computer networks and Dr Simon Chester is continuing the work to investigate teaching over the WWW in collaboration with Counterpoint MTC Ltd. Ian Rogers and Shalini Ramlall have continued their work in collaboration with Motiontouch. Henry Powell is also being sponsored to complete a PhD to investigate virtual teams in managing logistics and sub contracting.
The immediate future will be a further time of consolidation as research degrees and projects are completed. Although there have been pressures on academic staff in the group to do more teaching and less research, changes in the way in which external funding is channelled to research are being considered and could make research easier in the future. EPSRC, KTP and European funding applications for funding are being prepared and the group hopes to forge even closer links with other research groups.
The number of publications and the ratio of journal papers to other papers increased again this year as the newer members of the group have begun publishing in journals rather than presenting at conferences.
- Advance the frontiers of knowledge and enhance academic study in the three group areas.
- Disseminate the new knowledge acquired by the group through presentations & publications.
- Establish and strengthen links with industry and other research groups.
- Secure funding for time for research activities within the group.
- Encourage other researchers in the University.
Strategy to achieve the objectives:
- Research priorities are identified and reviewed regularly. An atmosphere of openness and academic study is created in the group through regular discussion and presentations. New initiatives are discussed and junior members of the group are nurtured to bring them to maturity in their research attitudes, methods and publications.
- Research students are expected to present a refereed conference paper before completing their MPhil or their transfer to PhD, and to submit a journal publication before submitting PhD dissertations. The Systems Engineering Research Group has historically produced more than 30% of the total research publications within the Electronics & Computing and Mechanical & Design Departments. Plans for the future are to reduce this market share, but to maintain or to improve the quality of publications, with a better ratio of books and journal papers to conference proceedings.
- Research within the group is strongly encouraged to feed into knowledge transfer opportunities and must have goals that are relevant to industry, even if these goals are distant. Each Research Area must have some funding. Joint applications are encouraged and are being planned with other research groups. Regular industrial visits are encouraged.
- Applications have been prepared for submission to UK research councils, UK charities and the DTI/KTP Directorate. These applications could extend research in the group areas. The Research Group has an international reputation. The members of the Research Group are committed to helping raise the standards of research within the departments in which we are situated, so that these departments attain a higher grading in the next RAE.
- Meetings are taking place of "researchers that are doing things" and others are planned for 2005. These meetings are to encourage researchers and to find ways of helping each other with research and to publish and apply for grants.
The majority of the work associated with the research group is centred on the research laboratory area in AO-22. Some work is still spread throughout the undergraduate laboratories, especially the Manufacturing and Control Laboratories and the telecoms roof laboratory.