University of Malta

The The University of Malta (UOM), which consists of 14 faculties, 12 centres and 3 Schools, performs research in various fields. There are a number of fields which the University has identified as priority areas, amongst which are relations with industry and the strengthening of the engineering departments; the further development of information technology, materials engineering, computer science and artificial intelligence. In the past three years, UM managed to attract an average of Eur9.1M annually for research. 


The Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (DIME) carries out research and provides training in the field of product development methodology and technology. DIME runs an M.Sc. in Integrated Product Development. Research at DIME is carried out in collaboration with a number of foreign academic/research institutes as well as a number of local industrial partners. Various fields are researched at DIME including design

methods, design guidelines, manufacturing of micro components and assemblies, industrial automation, digital manufacturing, sustainable manufacturing, polymer processing and design of high-value added products/components. DIME has filed patents, won a number of awards, ERDF and has been involved in a number of EU projects. 


The Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering (DMME), established in 1992, provides academic and research capability in materials engineering. DMME staff deliver study units ranging from the fundamentals of materials science to nanomaterials and biomaterials at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and academic research at postgraduate level is supported. The research areas include material degradation, surface engineering, laser processing and composites, and we are actively collaborating with industry and research institutions in these fields. DMME laboratories also support research carried out by other faculties and local industry by providing expertise in the behaviour, properties, degradation, testing and characterization of materials, and the

application of material engineering techniques to optimise the selection of materials and material processing techniques for obtaining the best performance out of materials. DMME has been involved in a number of EU funded projects.

Role in the project

  • UOM will be assisting the project co-ordinator in administering and coordinating the project.
  • UOM will lead and guide product assembly and testing aspects of the project, while also supporting other partners with materials selection and manufacturing.
  • UOM will be involved in defining the design specifications of the controller based on ergonomic requirements and industry standards.
  • Furthermore, UOM will define a testing plan which will be used to evaluate switch performance.
  • UOM will also lead the development of the dissemination strategy and related activities.

Team Members

WP4 Leader and Associate Professor at UOM

Philip Farrugia

Prof Ing. Philip Farrugia received the B. Eng. (Hons) degree from the University of Malta in 2001 with First Class Honours. He joined the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (DIME) at the University of Malta in 2001, as a Research Assistant. In February 2003, he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer with the same department. In September 2008 Philip was appointed as a lecturer after completion of Ph.D. with research related to ‘Computer-Aided Early Form Modelling’. Currently he is an Associate Professor with DIME. Since 2008, Prof. Ing. Farrugia has been coordinating the taught masters course in integrated product development. In addition, he was the principal investigator in a number of research funded projects related to healthcare products (e.g. an artificial rib bridge –, design and fabrication of a distal end for endoscope applications and assistive technology (e.g. a therapeutical device which supports children with language impairment, Philip has recently won two projects, one related to a conformity and usability risk assessment required for the commercialisation of the aforementioned therapeutical device, and another one related to the development of a novel VR simulator and adjustable test jig to design safer and customisable motorcycles. Prof. Farrugia has published over forty-six peer reviewed research papers in fields related to product development, and is the principal inventor of one patent (application pending) and three registered international community designs.

Lecturer at UOM

Pierre Vella

Dr Ing. Pierre Vella graduated as a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Malta inHe also obtained a MSc in Engineering and Manufacturing Management (distinction) from Coventry University in 2001. Between 1988 and 2003, he worked in industry, predominately in the microelectronics fabrication sector. He then joined the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (DIME) at the University of Malta, as a Manufacturing Systems Engineer, where he was responsible for the management of the department’s laboratories until October 2007. In 2007 he was appointed as an academic member with the same department and subsequently obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2015. His research work dealt with micro and nano manufacturing process chains. He currently holds the post of Lecturer with the DIME and is also Head of the Department.

His primary research interests include the design and
manufacture of microscale products as well as advanced manufacturing technologies. In addition, he has also actively participated in applying for externally funded projects both at local and EU levels to support research in priority areas. In particular, two projects which have been awarded funding are: (i) EX-MMIM project funded by MCST through the National R&I Programme 2012 and (ii) ERDF 12 – Developing an Interdisciplinary Material Testing and Rapid Prototyping R&D Facility. The former was a health care related research project concerning the design and fabrication of a distal end for endoscope applications. Over the past 10 years, Dr Vella has taught various modules at both under and postgraduate levels related to advanced manufacturing processes and micro/ nano manufacturing.

Senior Lecturer at UOM

Glenn Cassar

Dr Ing. Glenn Cassar is a Senior Lecturer within the Faculty of Engineering and Heads the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering. Dr Cassar received a Ph.D. degree for his work related to the development of Duplex Intensified Plasma Treatments, from The University of Sheffield (UK). For this work he was awarded the 2011 Brunton Medal for Metallurgical Research. Presently, his research work focuses on surface engineering of metal alloys, advanced characterisation and mechanical testing. Furthermore, he is interested in nanocharacterization techniques specifically for the study of the mechanical properties of nanostructured materials such as graphene. He has published in excess of 20 journal articles. Dr Cassar also collaborates with and regularly carries out materials studies and engineering forensic assignments for industry. For the last decade, Dr Cassar has taught various courses at both under and postgraduate levels focusing on surface engineering, fracture mechanics and nanomaterials. Recently, he was awarded a Fellowship by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Assistant Lecturer at UOM

Vickie Gauci

Dr Vickie Gauci is an Occupational Therapist by profession and has an MSc in Neurorehabilitation from Brunel University, London. She is an assistant lecturer with the Department of Disability Studies, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, at the University of Malta. She is a disabled researcher and is currently reading Social Policy on a PhD programme at the University of Leeds. Her research is entitled, “Enabling Technology and Employment: exploring the dis/ability assemblage”. She is also an occasional reviewer for the ‘Disability and Society’ Journal. Her current research interests and teaching include disability activism, assistive technology and universal design.

Researcher at UOM

Edward Abela

Edward Abela received his B.Eng. from the University of Malta in 2017. After working in R&D within the manufacturing industry, he pursued his M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, specialising in rehabilitation engineering and biomechanics. Since 2019 he has been a researcher at the University of Malta working on the PRIME-VR2 project whilst reading for his doctorate degree at the same university.

Edward will support the research team at UOM in leading and guiding product assembly and testing by designing and building in-house hardware and formulating product validation and verification plans.

Researcher at UOM

Emanuel Balzan

Emanuel graduated with honours in Electrical Engineering in 2009 and received the M.Sc in Integrated Product Development in 2012 both from the University of Malta. Following the first degree, he worked as a Research Engineer with the MARSEC-XL Foundation. After receiving his Masters he worked with Methode Electronics Malta as a Quality Engineer for 3 years in the Customer Liaison department where he ensured that the quality of both the products and process are to their highest standards. He joined the University of Malta as a Researcher in 2016 and has worked on the SPEECHIE project in which a therapeutic toy for children with speech and language difficulties was developed. Emanuel is a PhD student working on a user-centred design methodology that will aid designers to create better toys for children with Language Impairment.