Research Associate in Mechatronics

Updated: 4 days ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Research Associate in Mechatronics (
Job Number:
Department of Computer Science
Grade 7: - £37,099 - £44,263 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Working Arrangements: The role is full time, but we are undertaking a hybrid pilot looking at how best our staff can work flexibly and on and off campus.
Closing Date
: 10-Jun-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

Working at Durham University  

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a warm and friendly place to work, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other.

As one of the UK’s leading universities, Durham is an incredible place to define your career. The University is located within a beautiful historic city, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounded by stunning countryside. Our talented scholars and researchers from around the world are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.  

We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things in the world. Being a part of Durham is about more than just the success of the University, it’s also about contributing to the success of the city, county and community.

Our University Strategy is built on three pillars of research, education and wider student experience, but also on our keen sense of community and of inspiring others to achieve their potential. 

Our Purpose and Values

We want our University to be a place where people can be free to be themselves, no matter what their identity or background. Together, we celebrate difference, value one another and are each responsible for creating an inclusive community that is respectful and fair for all.

Find out more about the benefits of working at the University and what it is like to live and work in the Durham area on our Why Durham? information page.   

The Department

Computer Science at Durham is a UK Top 10 Department (Complete University Guide 2023). We are committed to high-quality teaching and research, and the Department increased excellence in all research areas since the last research assessment exercise, moving six places up the ranking to the 20th position for REF 2021. We are proud of our emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion and are working hard to make our department the no.1 University in the UK for women to study Computer Science.

The Role

As the world’s most successful pollinators, bees play a huge part in every aspect of the ecosystem. Any decline in bee populations could pose a threat to global agriculture. In this context, the EU-funded Sensorbees project is developing and combining micro-robotic, biological and machine learning technologies into a system that can support the well-being of the honeybee colonies. Specifically, the micro-robotic system will operate inside of the honeybee hive. For instance, this multi-robot system will visually inspect comb cells and will interact with the content with its micro tools.

The successful applicant will be responsible for mechanical design, programming and developing controllers, as well as implementation and testing the robotic system and its appropriate frameworks. Therefore, the main task is the mechatronics design of the actuators and monitoring agent. The second important task will be the low-level programming. You will focus on development of compact circuits and electronics for new types of complex bio-hybrid (insect-robot) entities.

We anticipate it will necessitate close working with our European partners. You will not be constrained to using any available hardware and algorithm or approaches, and instead will have a creative approach to problem solving, exploring multiple potential techniques. Ideas will be verified on software systems (e.g. SOLIDWORKS, MATLAB, etc) and with real world tests inside of honeybees’ hive, and so, you will be willing to get involved in experimental work for real-world verification with biologists.

The project is an EU-H2020-FET funded collaboration between the University of Durham in the UK, the University of Graz in Austria, Czech Technical University in Prague, and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy. This role will involve close working with external partners. You will be expected to visit all of these institutions in the course of your work and will be based in the Biohybrid Robotics Lab at the Department of Computer Science, Durham University.

Key responsibilities:

  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To use creativity to design a novel micro-mechatronic system with a particular focus on social behaviour of honeybees.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.

This post is fixed term for 24 months.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by September 2024.

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits:

  • 30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
  • The University closes between Christmas and New Year.
  • We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
  • No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
  • There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities.
  • Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
  • On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
  • Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
  • The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community.
  • Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions.
  • A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.
  • If you are moving to Durham, you may be eligible for help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.

Durham University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key component of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our Purpose and Values  and our Staff Code of Conduct.   At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all colleagues undertake activities that are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI. 

We welcome and encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented in our work force, including people with disabilities and from racially minoritised ethnic groups.

If you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on the volume and recency of your research outputs and other activities, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will take this into account when evaluating your application.

The University has been awarded the Disability Confident Employer status. If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role. 

Contact Information 

Department contact for academic-related enquiries 

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Farshad Arvin ([email protected] ). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application 

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to [email protected]  

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays).  

How to Apply  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  

Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit 

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • a CV (maximum 4 pages)
  • A covering letter (maximum 1 page) which details your experience, strengths and potential in the criteria set out below.

Next Steps 

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department.  The assessment for the post will normally include a formal interview and a technical interview, and we anticipate that the assessment will take place in May/June 2024

In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date. 

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.   

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria:


1. A good first degree in Electrical Engineering, Mechatronics or a related subject.

2. A PhD (or an MSc with extensive research experience) in Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics, Robotics, or a related subject.


3. Strong experience in conducting high quality academic research in mechatronics, hardware development and control systems in real-world robotic applications.

4. Strong software development background, especially in low-level microcontrollers.

5. Strong experience in robotic programming and simulation using ROS, Gazebo, etc

6. Demonstrated experience of mechanical design using standard CAD software, e.g. SOLIDWORKS, Fusion, etc.

7. Experience in programming languages such as C++, Python, MATLAB, etc.


8. Demonstrable ability to present research papers at conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.

9. Demonstrated ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals, evidenced by publications record.

10. Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.

11. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Desirable Criteria 


12. Experience of working in a multidisciplinary team.

13. Experience of circuit design with software such as Altium Designer, KiCAD, etc.

14. Previous experience of robotics development for bio-hybrid systems.


15. Willingness to travel.

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