Centre for Software Reliability

Staff Profile

Professor John Fitzgerald

Head of the School of Computing


John Fitzgerald is a specialist in rigorous model-based design techniques for the design of cyber-physical systems and systems-of-systems. He studied formal proof (PhD, Manchester Univ.), before joining Newcastle University, where he worked on design techniques for avionic systems with British Aerospace in the 1990s. He went on to study the potential for industrial application of formal modelling as a SERC Fellow and later as a Lecturer at Newcastle. He established the design and validation team at Transitive, a successful SME in the embedded processor market, before returning to the University in 2003.  

He was the School's academic lead on the design of the Urban Sciences Building - the first major university building at Newcastle Helix and the home for all our research and teaching activities since autumn 2017. Prior to that, he served as the School's Director of Research (to 2015) and Deputy Head of the School. Since August 2017, he has been Head of the School. 

John recently served for over a decade as Chair of FME, the main European body bringing together researchers and practitioners in rigorous methods of systems development. He is a Fellow of the BCS, a member of the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC),  EPSRC College, the ACM, IEEE and INCOSE. He serves on the boards of Dynamo North East and the International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3).


In my research, I develop model-based methods and tools to help in the design of particularly challenging types of product, especially systems that require collaboration between engineering teams of differing backgrounds and disciplines.

My group here in Newcastle undertakes groundbreaking research into co-modelling and co-simulation in the design of trustworthy embedded and cyber-physical systems (in the DESTECS project and in the EPSRC platform grants on Trustworthy Ambient Systems). Our work in the Deploy project concentrated on achieving and demonstrating dependability through the deployment of formal methods in four industry sectors. In 2011-2014 I led the international COMPASS project, developing technology for engineering complex "Systems-of-Systems" that are built from pre-existing systems that might never have been designed with collaboration in mind. These strands of work come together in the work that I now lead on multi-modelling methods in the INTO-CPS project. 

The impact of my group's research has been felt in the development of model-based engineering methods that have been successfully applied in areas as diverse as firmware design and options trading. We play a leading role in one of the first EU Horizon 2020 Innovation Actions, CPSELabs, and more recently HUBCAP, in which we provide funding and support to small amd mdedium-sized businesses wanting to innovate with model-based design technology for cyber-physical systems. 

Our team played a key role in two EU Horizon 2020 Support Actions in the area of Cyber-Physical Systems. In TAMS4CPS we  a research agenda for Transatlantic cooperation on modelling and simulation for CPSs, while in Road2CPS developed roadmaps, constituencies of interest and mechanisms to multiply the impact of CPS research. 


Postgraduate Teaching

Many of the most influential projects and products today are not solely mechanical, physical, electrical or electronic but are developed by multidisciplinary teams - often with digital and computing skills adding much of the value. In spite of this, there's a shortage of graduates who are expert in depth in one dicipline but who also have the skills to work successfully in such teams in the future. We've created an MSc programme in Smart Systems Engineering that welcomes professionals and graduates in engineering or computing, and offers the opportunity study the new generation of systems that are  resilient, distributed, mobile and smart, and - crucially - understand the tools, methods and skills that are needed to create and maintain them. in the 2021/22 year, I'll be teaching on the Group Project and Research module as part of this programme. 

    Some years ago, I founded MSc programme in security and resilience, which is now our MSc in Cybersecurity.

    Undergraduate Teaching In 2021/22, I'll be leading a new Stage 3 undergraduate module on Research methods and Project Skills, taken by all our undergraduate computer scientists.