Project: Networked Flying Platform enabled Wireless Communications for 5G and Beyond

Project Description

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is seeking to attract PhD students of outstanding ability and strong commitment to join its vibrant, growing and internationally recognized graduate research program. Successful applicant will benefit from our intellectually stimulating and inclusive research environment and from the HR Excellence awarded enhanced career development and professional training supports.

The standardization process of the next generation of wireless networks, referred to as 5G networks, has already started and these networks are expected to be deployed starting in approximately 2020 in Europe. The concept of ubiquitous connectivity for smart and resilient cities and community is perceived as a key enabling application to turn the 5G vision into reality. However, the orchestration of potential 5G disruptive technologies remains to be a significant challenge to achieve such ambitious aim and ensure their compatibility with the future generations of network to come. It is therefore high time for 5G stakeholders from industry, academia and beyond to research and investigate the way forward to achieve the 5G+ vision of a globally fully connected community in future smart and resilient cities.

Driven by an emerging use of Networked Flying Platforms (NFPs) such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned balloons in wireless applications and the challenges that the 5G and beyond networks exhibit, the focus of this project is to research, design and develop novel and smart scalable unified wireless platforms by integrating NFPs into 5G access and backhaul networks. Such large scale deployable platforms/frameworks provisioning ultra-low latency (time to reaction over wireless links), high data rate and high reliability will guarantee the global information and communication requirements in future smart and resilient cities and solve the ubiquitous connectivity problems in:

  • many challenging network coverage environments (e.g., coverage or capacity enhancements for remote or sparsely populated and disaster affected areas, etc.). and
  • several industrial sectors for intelligent monitoring and surveillance applications (e.g., transportations, health, power grid, agriculture, etc.).

Potential technologies to achieve this vision may include, but not limited to; mm-wave/free space optical (FSO) technology, multi-antenna and massive MIMO technology, artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms and software-defined cloud-enabled networking. Successful rollout of the outlined NFP-enabled 5G+ architecture will require focused investigations followed by performance analysis of mathematical modelling of NFP deployment, physical layer transmission design including novel resource/interference management approaches and cross-layer network optimization. In addition, network economics, network re-configurability and compatibility and technology regulatory issues are also required to be investigated under the scope of the study.

The PhD student will be supervised by a cross-disciplinary team of experienced academics (from wireless engineering and networks, mathematics and software computing) at UWS. Dr. Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir will lead the project supervision team with experts and advisors from Center of Artificial Intelligence, Visual Communications and Networks (AVCN) in the School of Engineering and Computing who have been recently awarded with €7M follow-on funding for 5G mobile networks project SELFNET by European Commission (EC) – with 12 EU partners; and from Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research (STORM) Group in the School of Science and Sport.

This project is strategically in collaboration with National Air Traffic Services (NATS), UK’s leading air traffic control service provider and T4i Engineering, a research based SME that offers prototyping and key-enabling technologies for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and IoT-based systems. The PhD student will also have excellent opportunity to collaborate with international eminent academics involved in 5G initiatives from Glasgow University, UK, Carleton University, Canada and other European 5G industry partners.

The envisioned architecture is strategically aligned with the UWS framework of research excellence to offer sustainable infrastructure towards knowledge based economy. The outcome of the project will demonstrate the development of novel NFP-enabled architecture; further strengthen the university research track record and ultimately engage the university and partners to attract external industry and UK/EU research funding.

Applicants should hold a minimum 2:1 degree or a master’s degree in computer science/computer engineering/electrical and electronic engineering or other relevant disciplines, or have equivalent industry experiences. It is essential that the applicant has good skills in computer programming and good knowledge in one or more of the following areas: computer networks, wireless networks, artificial intelligence, software engineering, mathematical modelling, and telecommunications.


Dr. Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir

School of Engineering and Computing

University of the West of Scotland

Paisley Campus, High Street

Paisley PA1 2BE United Kingdom

Email: muhammad.shakir@uws.ac.uk

Tel: 0141 848 3420

Funding Notes

UWS is an inspiring, vibrant place to study with a growing research community; an important aspect of which is its outstanding and committed research students.

Successful candidates will receive an annual stipend (currently £14,553) per annum for three years and payment of tuition fees (current value £4200). Applicants are advised that funding will be considered as part of a competitive round and there is no guarantee that it will be awarded. Successful applicants will be expected to contribute up to 6 hours/week to UWS’ academic related activities.


  • Studentships are open to Home/EU candidates with a first degree in a relevant discipline. Non-EU students can apply, but will not receive the stipend and will be required to pay fees.

How to apply 

Postgraduate Degree by Research Applications should be completed online at

Applications without all relevant documents will not be considered. Please quote the Project Reference Number. Students must follow the online application process carefully. Dr Shakir’s research profile and details can be seen at UWS Research Portal and preprints of some of his relevant recent research work can be seen at arXiv which could be useful in preparing research statement.

Deadline 12 May 2017

Online version of this call is available at https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=85545&LID=1273