Food Sensing and Imaging Programme

Host Faculty: Engineering
General Subject Area: Engineering (ENEL, ENCE, ENMT, COSC) and Physics
Project Level: PhD
View the Research Website
Food imaging project

The University of Canterbury (UC), in Christchurch, NZ is seeking motivated postgraduate students currently holding, or anticipating, excellent bachelor’s or master’s degrees in Electrical, Electronic, Computer or Mechatronic Engineering, or Physics.

The successful candidates will join a strong, multidisciplinary, multi-institution, NZ government funded team, researching electromagnetic detection and imaging techniques for process and quality control in the food industry. Such techniques have the goal of detecting foreign objects in fast-flowing (~ 2 ms-1)
food media, as well as the homogeneity and temperature distribution of the media.

The research will comprise one or more of the following topics:
• Electromagnetic field modelling
• Magnetic and electric field sensors
• Precision, ultra-low noise analogue electronics and analogue to digital interfacing
• Digital synthesis of excitation fields
• Electrode design and analysis
• Signal processing and data manipulation
• Machine learning for foreign-object signature detection
• Image reconstruction for foreign objects, homogeneity and temperature distribution
• Industrial application of the developed techniques

There will be opportunities for international secondment to one of our four international collaborators (in UK and Australia), and for travel within NZ to our partners the University of Auckland and Lincoln Agritech Ltd. Your supervisory team is likely to comprise both UC and partner academics and engineers.
Your work will directly contribute to industrial trials of the technology developed.

A full stipend (currently NZ$ 28,000 p.a.), plus fees will be covered for a three-year period of study.

There will be opportunities to supplement this stipend by contributing to UC undergraduate courses in related areas, as a Teaching Assistant.

To apply, contact Dr Bill Heffernan, Principal Research Engineer, EPECentre, UC, at, and send a CV, cover letter and transcript.

Contact if you have any other questions.


Supervisor: Bill Heffernan

Key qualifications and skills

• Bachelor with Honours or Master's degree in Electrical, Electronic, Computer or Mechatronic Engineering, or Physics, or closely related field
• Excellent academic track record and ability to work in a collaborative environment
• High proficiency in written and spoken English
• Industrial or practical experience desirable

Enthusiastic applicants (any nationality) with the above attributes that want to make a positive impact in the world are strongly encouraged to apply.

Does the project come with funding

Yes - $28,000 stipend per annul for 3 years, plus fees

Final date for receiving applications



Electromagnetic field modelling; Magnetic and electric field sensors; Electrode design and analysis; Signal processing and data manipulation; Industrial application of the developed techniques; Electrical and Electronics Engineering