From West Kirby to Westminster: Student wins prestigious national science awards at parliamentary event 

Gor Piliposyan, a PhD student at the University of Liverpool, enjoyed success at the 2022 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for BRITAIN awards which took place in Parliament this week. 

Gor, who lives in West Kirby, won both the STEM for Britain Engineering Gold Award and the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Communications Prize. 

STEM for BRITAIN is a major scientific poster competition and exhibition which has been held in Parliament each year since 1997. It is organised by the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee and aims to give members of both Houses of Parliament an insight into the outstanding research work being undertaken in UK universities by early-career researchers. 

Applications are invited in five subject categories: Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Physics, Engineering, Mathematical Sciences and Chemistry. Prizes are awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicated high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience. 

Gor’s work is titled ‘Security of Electronic Devices: Hardware Trojan Detection Through Machine Learning’ and his research concerns the detection of hardware trojans on Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) inside electronic devices. 

A hardware trojan is a malicious modification to the original design of the device to allow unauthorised access to the system to corrupt or retrieve secret information. 

You can see Gor’s poster summarising his research, as well as a video presentation of his work, via this link: https://stemforbritain.org.uk/2022-winners/ 

The parliamentary event was attended by Gor’s local MP, Margaret Greenwood. 

After receiving his awards, Gor said, “I am absolutely delighted to have won these awards in Parliament. It is a real honour to receive the first prize, particularly being in the company of other such brilliant PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

“I believe that trusting the electronic devices that we use on daily basis – our desktop computers, the servers through which we link to the internet, etc. – is crucial. Imagine if we were unsure whether someone was eavesdropping on us every time we sent an email or logged into our online banking accounts. How terrible would it be if our own computers were spying on us and were to blame for it all?

“The problem is only amplified if we talk about corporate or governmental level systems, where even the smallest leakage of information can have absolutely devastating impacts on the company or national security.

“My research targets detection of hardware Trojans on printed circuit boards inside electronic devices. 

“This is an issue which has been proven to exist, but it has not yet been sufficiently addressed.  

“My methodology monitors the printed circuit board’s power consumption pattern to identify anomalies, and this is achieved by applying one class classification machine learning algorithms. 

“The machine learning model is low-cost in terms of computation and memory, requiring as little as 20KB memory storage. 

“Simulations returned hardware Trojan detection classification results with an accuracy above 99.7% when the hardware Trojan had an average power consumption as low as 40mW.  

“Being one of the pioneers, this research can have a significant impact in improving the level of electronic hardware security, reducing the potential harm from hardware Trojans to society.” 

Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Winning both the STEM for Britain Engineering Gold Award and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Prize is an outstanding achievement. I am delighted that Gor’s research has received this high-level recognition and I was very pleased to be able to congratulate him at the award ceremony in person.  

“STEM – or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – is incredibly important for our economy and for addressing the global challenges that we face. 

“It is important that early-stage researchers are commended and that their profiles are raised so that the scientific and engineering community can have an insight into emerging new talent. 

“I would encourage anyone interested in finding out more about the event and its history to visit www.stemforbritain.org.uk ”   

Image: Wirral West MP, Margaret Greenwood, and Gor Piliposyan

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