Strong Research-industry links present at IPES CDT Industry Day 2018

The benefits of having strong links between research and industry were highlighted at the Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems (IPES) Industry Day that took place at the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Engineering on 12 January 2018.

Each year the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) holds an industry day to showcase our latest research to industry partners and new companies interested in finding out more about our CDT, one of only a handful in the country to be rated 'outstanding' last year by the Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The CDT trains postgraduate students and works closely with a wide range of companies worldwide, including Qioptiq, Thales, Microsoft, Toshiba, VividQ and more.

In addition to showcasing the centre’s latest research achievements, a main focus of the day was to provide an environment for students to meet with industry partners, who discussed their own research goals and research opportunities for graduates. The event was sponsored by HGF Intellectual Property Solutions who have recruited students from the CDT.

David Youngman, Engineering Manager for Thales, spoke about how machine learning combined with developments in integrated photonics such as hyperspectral imaging, is transforming aerial reconnaissance.

There were several company presentations from companies large and small including this year, more startups and SMEs. Dr Roman Pechhacker, Head of Development at Mixed Reality holographic display company VividQ based in Cambridge, explained how the CDT's students have been working on their innovative products through short MRes research projects. The company have recruited several graduates from the Centre.

The breadth of research carried out by CDT students was evident at the event. Projects included machine vision for 3D imaging on the Mars Rover (a project in collaboration with Airbus) presented by Eleni Bohacek from UCL, and recent Royal Commission of 1851 Industry Fellow, PhD student George Roberts on optical injection locking applied to quantum encryption, in collaboration with Toshiba Labs Europe.

The CDT offers a unique single MRes course, where students are taught at two of the world's best universities. Combining the photonics and electronics expertise of two world-leading universities helps to ensure that students gain the skills to drive the research, development, and commercialisation of photonics systems for use in applications ranging from telecommunications and industrial manufacture, to agriculture and medicine.

‘We have a very large number of research groups, both in Cambridge and UCL. They cover the range of activities from the very materials related to the very systems related,’ said Professor Alwyn Seeds (UCL), a director of the IPES CDT. ‘We match the programme to the particular needs of the students – if they know all about photonic devices, we don’t encourage them to take more courses in photonic devices; we encourage them to take talks on large scale integration, for example,’ Seeds added. ‘So [students] can gain tools for future research that are much broader than a first degree graduate would typically have.’

The CDT was founded in 2009 as the CDT in Photonic Systems Development, which focused primarily on photonics. However, the course now carries an increased emphasis on the integration of electronic systems. 

The event also presented an opportunity to discuss how the centre should continue its research. The audience was asked about the types of new technologies and unsolved problems that PhD students should look to research and develop. Machine learning and artificial intelligence both featured prominently in discussions.