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Award of Excellence for TU Graz doctoral students

Process engineer Christoph Grimmer, telematics engineer Andrea Höller and electrical engineer Erik Leitinger have been awarded the state prize for the best PhD theses.

Portraits of Christoph Grimmer, Andrea Höller and Erik Leitinger
f.l.t.r. Christoph Grimmer, Andrea Höller and Erik Leitinger.

The Award of Excellence of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) honours the 40 best PhD theses of the preceding academic year to promote academic achievements of excellence. Three promising researchers from TU Graz were also included: process engineer Christoph Grimmer, telematics engineer Andrea Höller and electrical engineer Erik Leitinger. They introduced their research activities to TU Graz news+stories::

Prototype for new fuels

Fuel cells count among the most promising electricity producers of the future. They convert chemical energy from fuels directly into electrical energy in a highly efficient way. In his PhD thesis, Christoph Grimmer developed a new fuel cell system which he implemented in a prototype that can convert stored energy into direct current at high efficiency. At the same time he managed to do without platinum, thus considerably reducing the costs of the fuel cell.
This development lays a foundation stone for future fuel cells, which can also directly convert alcohol into electrical energy using a simple system configuration.

Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Christoph Grimmer: Energy and Hydrogen Storage in Borohydride based Liquids.
Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology

Resilient software for 'reliability-hardened' Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is increasingly merging the real and virtual worlds. To be able to master the increasingly complex processor-intensive tasks, cheap standard hardware is relied on more and more. It provides a good computing performance but has a high susceptibility to faults. The growing complexity of systems necessary for the Internet of Things, moreover, makes frequent software errors.
In her PhD thesis Andrea Höller presents new concepts to increase system reliability independent of the cause of errors (hardware or software faults or hacker attacks). More precisely, the 28-year-old has developed methods which, on the one hand, allow faulty executions caused by diverse software variants to be recognised, and on the other hand allow software to adapt itself so that it can continue to function correctly despite faults from outside. On top of this, she has developed a tool to simulate hardware faults to be able to test these methods.
Andrea Höller currently works at Infineon Technologies Austria AG in the Contactless Innovation department in System Engineering and Digital Design.

Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Andrea Höller: Software-based fault tolerance for resilient embedded systems.
Institute of Technical Informatics

Radio-based system for indoor positioning

Positioning systems such as GPS, laser or cameras often come up against their limits in building interiors because they are either disturbed by undesired signals and echoes or their exactness is not sufficient.
In his PhD thesis, Erik Leitinger developed a radio-based positioning system for building interiors which can also be integrated in mobile end devices and which – just like the human brain – distinguishes between relevant information and disturbing signals. It can also determine positions to the nearest centimetre even under difficult conditions. In detail, the positioning system is based on the available room plan. The radio signals, which are either transmitted from a small transmitter in the room or from a mobile phone of the person whose position is being determined, are reflected by the walls. The mobile end device receives these reflections and processes them in such a way – thanks to the positioning system – that an exact determination of the position is possible. Furthermore, the researcher developed a probability-based algorithm by which the system can react flexibly to possible inaccuracies in the room plans and is even able to reconstruct a representation of the room plan with rather restricted prior knowledge. In this case, an exact positioning can also be ensured.
Indoor positioning is also important in the case of fires in buildings where smoke prevents vision, and also for follow-up of goods in industrial logistics.

Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Erik Leitinger: Cognitive Indoor Positioning and Tracking using Multipath Channel Information.
Signal Processing and Speech Communication Laboratory

About the Award of Excellence

Since 2008, the 40 best PhD theses from the preceding academic year have been honoured with the state prize from educational funds to the amount of 3,000 euros each. All suggestions for the state prize come from the universities. The festive presentation of the awards takes place each year in December.


Christoph GRIMMER, Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. BSc
Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology

Andrea HÖLLER, Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. BSc
Infineon Technologies Austria AG

Erik LEITINGER, Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. BSc
Signal Processing and Speech Communication Laboratory