UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


PhD in Intelligent Multi-function RF Sensor Solutions

We are looking for a motivated PhD student to work in the areas of FPGA, RF sensors (Radar) and Digital Signal Processing.


Title: A four year fully-funded (home rate) PhD in the field of FPGA design, Radar and Digital Signal Processing at UCL

Project supervisor: Dr Matthew Ritchie

Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London

Start Date: September 2022

Closing Date: None (the position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found)


What is covered by this studentship:  A stipend (currently £17,609 pa) and fees at the home rate (currently £5,525 pa) for a period of 4 years. This studentship also covers the cost of consumables and travel expenses amount to be confirmed) to attend conferences during the same period in addition to an industry top up (amount to be confirmed) More details about the stipend and fees can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research-innovation-services/studentship-budgets-202122

How to apply: Applications must be made using the UCL online application system by using the UCL postgraduate study application form. Please mark it to the attention of Dr. Matthew Ritchie.

Please submit your CV, transcripts (both undergraduate and postgraduate), your latest thesis (and/or one of your publications if applicable), and a short (up to one page) cover letter explaining why you think you are a suitable candidate for this post. The short-listed candidates might be further required to provide contact info (no direct recommendation letters) for peers that can recommend them.

Description: This research PhD would look to investigate new algorithms and hardware implementations in the emerging areas of distributed multi-function RF sensors. This project looks to leverage the disruptive COTS hardware solution to perform multiple roles on a defence platform within constraints on size, weight, and power (SWAP). The Xilinx RFSoC is a full RF system on a chip that is able to both transmit and receive on 8 channels and has significant potential to revolutionise the Electronic Warfare (EW) domain. The key steps of the project are the establishment of templates for operation as 1) Active Radar 2) Passive Radar 3) Electronic Surveillance (ES) and potentially 4) Electronic Countermeasures (ECM). These modes are typically completed by separate systems with little integration. The research opportunity is to develop algorithms and hardware prototypes that demonstrate the value of having a tightly integrated multi-function system with cognitive real-time control, which could also be expanded to multiple sensor nodes providing a distributed intelligent RF sensing solution for the future battlespace. During the PhD opportunities will be given to run experimental outdoor trials using the experimental system to prove in real-world scenarios how this sensing architecture can provide a step change in capabilities for future platforms.

The research applied will leverage past project developments and hardware including the DASA RFSoC Phase 1 and 2 work (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/iccs/research-projects/2021/jun/dasa-rfsoc-phase-1-phase-2). The RFSoC device represents an excellent opportunity to develop a cutting-edge sensor that can provide multiple sensing modes which would normally be provided by different systems. By fusing these tasks into a single device, a singular solution can enable a lower SWAP-C solution. The prior DASA work has developed both the physical hardware and FPGA coding framework for an adaptive RF sensor. This PhD can leverage this background work to develop algorithms that utilise the sensor in a distributed and intelligent manner.

As part of the ICASE PhD the student can engage closely with industrial sponsor Leonardo over the 4-year period. Leonardo is one of the world’s leading aerospace companies and is a leader in the area of RF sensing and FPGA design. As part of this ICASE award the PhD student will be able to take secondments at the Leonardo offices and lab facilities in Luton (EW) and/or Edinburgh (radar), and work closely with expert engineers within this research topic area.

Person specification: The candidate should meet the entry requirements detailed here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research-degrees/electronic-and-electrical-engineering-mphil-phd for PhD programmes at UCL EEE.

They should have at least an upper second-class honours degree (2:1 or equivalent qualification) in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, or related fields.

Additional requirements include an outstanding academic record and strong Digital Signal Processing background along with at least some experience using FPGA systems.

Experience with research is not required but is a plus. Additional desirable skills include prior knowledge in Radar sensing, RF design, and machine learning.

If you fit these specifications, like challenging tasks, and are passionate about research, then we would love to hear from you.

For inquiries about the position, please contact Dr Matthew Ritchie m.ritchie@ucl.ac.uk

About UCL and the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering: University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as the third university in England, after Oxford and Cambridge. UCL is the first university in England to admit students of any race, class or religion, and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men. UCL is organized into 11 constituent faculties, within which there are over 100 departments, institutes and research centres. UCL has 983 professors and more than 7000 academic staffs who are dedicated to research and teaching of the highest standards. Its student community is almost 36,000, the largest in the UK. There are 29 Nobel Prize winners and three Fields medalists amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff. UCL is the top rated university in the UK for research excellence (REF2014). It has a strong tradition and large knowledge base in medical research with a dedicated institute on Healthcare Engineering and 10+ hospitals. UCL has world-class support for researchers and has been voted the best place for postdoctoral researchers to work for consecutive years by The Scientist magazine. The main campus of UCL is located in central London, close to British Museum, West-End and Thames River. 

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL was established by Professor Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1885 and has a very strong research culture, state-of-the-art research equipment and facilities, and a very rich history of many fundamental research achievements in electronic and electrical engineering. The department has received top ratings in every UK research evaluation carried out to date.

Further information regarding UCL may be found at www.ucl.ac.uk  Information about the departments may be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/eee