A bright future in automotive electronics: UKESF Automotive Electronics Competition

Secure-CAV consortium members University of Southampton and now at Mentor, a Siemens business; Oana Lazar scoops runner up prize

Secure-CAV Consortium member Mentor, a Siemens business (formerly UltraSoC) co-sponsored the UK Electronic Skills Foundation Automotive Electronics Awards for the second year, full details can be seen on the UKESF website here.

Entrants from partner universities were asked to turn their thoughts to the future of cybersecurity for connected and autonomous vehicles and to write a short ‘think piece’. UKESF CEO Stew Edmondson said, “This is the second year that we have run this competition. I am very grateful for UltraSoC (now Mentor)’s sponsorship and support. We received more entries this time, which is really heartening given all the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The winners produced thoroughly readable and thought provoking pieces; well done!”

The winning entrant from Suzanne Candanedo, University of Warwick, highlighted lessons from the past including the Morris worm.

Suzanne Candanedo, University of Warwick

“…we cannot expect autonomous cars, especially personal use ones, to be secure no matter the technology available if their users are not aware of cybersecurity threats. Any basic lesson on cybersecurity will start stating the most significant vulnerability of all: people.”

From the winning entry by Suzanne Candanedo, University of Warwick

Runner-up Oana Lazar from University of Southampton, and now with Mentor (a Siemens business) added: “Automotive electronics has grown from a futuristic concept to a key field of engineering in just a few short years, and the UKESF Automotive Electronics Competition has inspired me to follow this exciting development! Through lectures by the IET, webinars by the IEEE, and projects such as Secure-CAV, I have been learning how this novel industry is changing almost all aspects of engineering, and especially software safety through standards such as MISRA.”

Oana’s entry addressed the complexities of connected and autonomous vehicles, and the inextricable link between safety and security.

Security is meaningless without safety. It’s one thing for several cars to be hacked, causing significant but limited damage, and a completely different thing for every unit running specific firmware to enter the same erroneous states, with distributed but collectively massive impact potentially affecting millions.

Oana Lazar, now Mentor, a Siemens business, and former University of Southampton student – runner-up in UKESF Automotive Electronics Competition
Oana Lazar, runner-up

Aileen Ryan, Senior Director, Mentor, said, “Once again I’ve been really impressed not just with the number but also the quality of the entries to this year’s competition. It’s great to know that the emerging generation of engineers show such awareness and insight into the issues facing the automotive industry, and the socio-economic impact of our activities as engineers. I’d like to offer a big thank you to all of the entrants, who had clearly put a great deal of time, energy and thought into their submissions; also to the UKESF for their continuing commitment to developing our skills base in the UK. And finally, say ‘congratulations’ to Suzanne Candanedo and Oana Lazar, whose contributions came out top in such a high-quality field of entrants.”

“It’s great to know that the emerging generation of engineers show such awareness and insight into the issues facing the automotive industry, and the socio-economic impact of our activities as engineers.”

Aileen Ryan, Senior Director, Portfolio Strategy, Tessent Silicon Lifecycle Solutions, Mentor, a Siemens business

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