Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)

Location: Belfast IE

Physics-Based Source Modelling with Time-Variant Parameters (ESR12)

Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (PhD Position, VRACE ITN), Full-Time
Hosting Institution
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science
Closing Date:
Interview Date:
3 June 2019
14 June 2019

Basic salary with pension: £30,424 per annum
Basic salary without pension: £37,081 per annum
Additional payments:
Mobility: £406 per month, Family Allowance (subject to criteria)

Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply; the VRACE network strives to improve gender balance in research.

The Early Stage Researcher (ESR) will undertake research in the framework of the project “VRACE: Virtual Reality Audio for Cyber Environments”, and will be funded for 36 months through the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN) programme. VRACE will establish a multidisciplinary training and research programme focusing on the analysis, modelling and rendering of dynamic 3-dimensional soundscapes for applications in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), delivered by nine cooperating European Universities and their industrial partners, including Siemens, Mueller BBM, Sennheiser and Facebook Reality Labs (former Oculus). The ESR will be an active member of the research project team at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) assisting in the delivery of research and training activities of the VRACE Network and required to work towards the expected results of the QUB-led project entitled “Physics-Based Source Modelling with Time-Variant Parameters”. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all ESRs will benefit from further continuing education through a dedicated training program in the various fields of expertise of the consortium partners, which includes active participation in workshops, conferences and outreach activities.

1. Conduct research in physics-based source modelling with time-variant parameters, as set out in the additional information below.
2. Carry out the research and training activities specified by a personal career development plan (PCDP) and contribute to the PCDP development.
3. Study and follow the technical literature including academic papers, journals and textbooks to keep abreast with the state-of-the-art in the project topical area.
4. Record, analyse and write up results of research work and contribute to the production of research reports and publications.
5. Prepare regular progress reports on the performed research and training activities and present the research outcomes at meetings, project workshops, and to external audiences to disseminate and publicise research findings.
6. Work closely with researchers of other consortium members and facilitate knowledge transfer within the VRACE consortium and in accordance with the consortium agreement.
7. Undertake mandatory training programs and secondment as required at the facilities of other consortium members in Europe and the US.
8. Actively participate in training activities and submit reports in fulfilment of the project requirements.
9. Participate in outreach, dissemination, and administrative activities promoting the VRACE Network project including contributing to the consortium webpages and to organisation of VRACE project training workshops and events.
10. Carry out undergraduate supervision & demonstrating duties under supervisor direction and according to university regulations.

1. Have or about to obtain a 1st class or 2.1 Honour Degree or equivalent in a discipline relevant to the research project in the realm of engineering (e.g. mechanics, electronics) and science (e.g. physic, mathematics).
2. Relevant experience in computer programming, including the ability to develop computational models in Matlab.
3. Demonstrable awareness of, and willingness to participate in, highly interdisciplinary research spanning across acoustics, numerical methods, virtual reality, and music.
4. Strong analytical and problem solving skills.
5. Ability to logically conceptualise and summarise the research findings.
6. Excellent verbal and writing communication skills.
7. Ability to interact with colleagues and staff.
8. Ability to organise resources, manage time and meet deadlines.
9. Willingness to assist in undergraduate supervision.
10. Be willing and able to participate in training programs at the facilities of other consortium members across Europe and in the US.
11. At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctorate. This four-year period is measured from the date of obtaining the degree that would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
12. Must not have resided or carried out their main activity in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their selection for this post.

1. Masters Qualification in a relevant subject.
2. Specialist knowledge in numerical methods, musical acoustics, or digital signal processing.
3. Proficiency in in C/C++ .
4. Experience in working with audio/music software.
5. Experience in developing audio plugins.
6. Academic or industry experience in participating in engineering or science research projects.
7. Academic or industry experience in working with virtual/augmented reality systems
8. Familiarity with website maintenance and the use of social media tools.

General information about VRACE can be found on the consortium website: https://vrace-etn.eu/

ESR12 Project Title: Physics-Based Source Modelling with Time-Variant Parameters
This project will belong to the work stream of Work Package 1, which focuses on modelling and simulation of sources and their near field characteristics. Research in this project will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Performing Arts Vienna (MDW), and will be further informed through industrial engagement by ARTIM.

Objectives: One of the key tasks in accomplishing further step changes in aural immersion involves replacing sample-based strategies with interactive, procedural source models based on realistic simulation of vibrating structures. Using a rigorous physical modelling framework, these will render physically consistent changes in the source signal in response to a human actor interacting with the embedded vibrating objects. Progress on this topic can partly build on a steadily advancing body of numerical techniques for simulation of musical instruments, which have become increasingly viable for real-time application, and are now seeing direct application in the design of new virtual-acoustic instruments.

From an engineering perspective, such interactions can be framed in terms of continuous human-driven adjustment (i.e. time-variance) of physical model parameters. This project seeks to introduce extended parameter time-variance in physics-based simulations of musical instruments and other sound-emitting mechano-acoustic vibrating systems for the following two complementary purposes:

• Exploration: discovery and design through fine-tuning global system parameters (e.g. dynamically adjusting the tension of a virtual-acoustic string or the mass density of a virtual-acoustic plate).

• Articulation: local parameter changes associated with physical human actions (e.g. sounding a virtual-acoustic membrane through repeated mallet striking with varying force and excitation position while dynamically exerting local hand damping control on a specific region of the membrane surface).

The principal research challenge that the project will address is enabling such control and interaction introducing minimal artefacts (which would degrade the sense of immersion) for both elementary and complex systems consisting for linearly and nonlinear coupled vibrational subsystems, with specific focus on avoidance of undesirable or unphysical energy changes that typically arise with existing discretisation approaches. Addressing this challenge will involve deriving numerical models that allow the specification of precise trade-offs between desired energetic behaviour, parameter adjustability and computational efficiency; both finite difference and modal expansion forms will be explored in this context.

Expected Results
1. New numerical methods and models for simulation of vibration and sound produced by virtual-acoustic source systems (including musical instruments) under time-variance of system parameters. 2. New methods for analysis of stability and energy behaviour for such systems. 3. Off-line and real-time realisations for demonstrating the models in the contexts of virtual reality, music performance, and audio processing.

Research Environment
The successful applicant will be part of and contribute to the Systems & Sensors research theme within the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and will be based in the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC). SARC (http://www.sarc.qub.ac.uk) brings together researchers in composition, performance, musicology, electrical engineering, computing, acoustics, perception, sound recording, interaction design, broadcast, critical improvisation studies, sound art, aesthetics and media theory, forming an interdisciplinary research environment with over 60 academics and postgraduate students.

The purpose designed SARC building features a state-of-the-art Sonic Laboratory, several multichannel studios, an Interaction Lab, and a VR/AR Lab. The ESR will interact regularly with other researchers in the network, and will conduct part of the research in collaboration with the team based in the Department of Music Acoustics – Wiener Klangstil (IWK, https://iwk.mdw.ac.at/) at the University of Performing Arts Vienna (MDW).

Supervision: Dr Maarten van Walstijn (QUB), Dr. Vasileios Chatziioannou (MDW)

Informal Inquiries: Dr Maarten van Walstijn (m.vanwalstijn@qub.ac.uk)
If available, applicants are strongly encouraged to send a copy of a research report they have written (e.g. Master’s Dissertation, Final-Year-Project Dissertation, scientific publication) to the above email.

Application: through the QUB portal https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/QUBJobVacancies/ResearchJobs/
(see Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher, Job Reference: 19/107438)

Job Starting Date: between 1 August 2019 and 1 September 2019.

Applicant Data Protection: Please be aware that – in accordance with the VRACE Grant Agreement and EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – your CV may be shared with the named beneficiaries within the consortium, as part of the application review process.

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