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Liz James

Liz James

EngD Student

EngD Title: On-Board and Off-Board Data Platforms

What was your background and why did you decide to study for a PhD at WMG?

I did my integrated Master's degree in Physics at Swansea University (MPhys Hons.) and finished in 2015. During this time I specialised in computational modelling and hands-on experimental methodologies and techniques which required a strong background in highly-dimensional problems.

After my thesis, 2D Potts Model with a Twist, which was highly theoretical in nature I decided to look for areas in STEM that I could deploy my skills in both a theoretical and experimental manner. Engineering hadn’t been on my original search horizons and the traditional PhD presented additional challenges. WMG offered the EngD which allowed me to develop skills in business & management that seemed to offer more for my future career than other options.

Tell us about your research project…

There is a trend in the automotive industry to develop increasingly Smart and Connected products. Whilst the Off-Board connectivity is being addressed with multi-industry efforts such as 5G, On-Board networking technologies are being primarily driven by the automotive sector which has led to more traditional technologies such as CAN & FlexRay becoming increasingly ineffective at handling the sheer amount of data and restrictive latency requirements.

New developments from the standards bodies responsible for Ethernet have now made it a viable alternative to traditional automotive networks. This includes better EMI properties and most importantly for my project the tools to deliver deterministic data transfer which can be used to deliver data to the tight safety-critical Quality of Service requirements.

My project takes one step further and by employing various standards aims to provide dynamic frame differentiation which would theoretically allow increased network utilisation in exchange for a quantifiable, but low, missed deadline error rate.

What have you enjoyed most during your research degree?

Working closely with industry partners has been eye opening because it provides an insight into how multi-partner industry led projects are often organised. This has added to my skills in lots of ways.

What are your plans after completing your research degree?

I have had plenty of offers from different people but I’ve got to carefully consider them. I am debating setting up my own company developing bespoke solutions for Industry 4.0/IoT challenges as well as the automotive industry.

What would you say to someone considering to do a research degree?

Make sure you have something to grasp hold of and motivate you, even if it is just that having “Dr.” as a prefix, because your doctorate will be the longest period of continued effort you will have likely faced. Keeping up the momentum is difficult but rewarding at the same time.