Dr Máire McLoone, a Lecturer and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow for Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Research Institute at Queen’s University, Belfast, yesterday won a prestigious award at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.

She received £500, a certificate and engraved trophy for her work in the area of data security, leading a research team, lecturing in electronics, establishing international relations, gaining funding for research projects and for her work as an ambassador for the engineering profession.

The Royal Academy of Engineering awarded Dr Máire McLoone a five year EPSRC/RAEng Research Fellowship at Queen’s University Belfast, to pursue research on Cryptographic Algorithms for System-On-Chip. Her research encompasses the design and analysis of cryptographic algorithms and hardware architectures for data security.

IT security has become a fundamental building block in designing successful communication networks. In applications such as satellite communications, broadband wireless technology and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), data security is an essential aspect. One of the most widespread tools used to provide communication system security is encryption. Cryptographic techniques involve complex mathematical operations and as such, cannot be implemented efficiently on software platforms. However, hardware encryption devices are inherently faster and increasingly essential for real-time communication applications.

Dr McLoone’s research interests include generic hardware architectures for symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic algorithms, security for wireless and ad hoc networks, hardware/software cryptographic system-on-chip architectures and cryptography for constrained environments. Her recent research contributions include the development of a 26 Gbps SHACAL-2 architecture and a 5 Gbps Whirlpool hash function architecture, which are, respectively, the fastest encryption and hash function architectures currently available.

The Academy’s prestigious Research Fellowship has been of immense benefit to Máire in the development of her research career. It has been enabled her to travel extensively, to build collaborative links and to present her work at national and international conferences. Máire said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed life as a EPSRC/RAEng Research Fellow and I really appreciate the opportunities the scheme has afforded me. I would highly recommend this scheme to anyone interested in a career as an academic researcher.”

Together, the EIT’s Woman Engineer of the Year Awards and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s education schemes are working to encourage more women to consider studying engineering and pursue it as a career.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Richard Wilson at The Royal Academy of Engineering