Author: Frankie

Perceptions and Impacts of Local Education within the ICT Field

I am very proud to have mentored Ms Jade Vella in her undergraduate research titled: “Perceptions and Impacts of Local Education within the ICT Field” which was also presented in the MCAST Qualitative Research Conference held between the 4th and 7th December 2023, and eventually published in the MCAST Research Journal. In this study, we applied a triangulation of perspectives starting with the use of Factor Analysis of Mixed Data on scrapped education and professional data of 200 graduates which gave initial insights shaping the subsequent surveys and interviews.

MCAST @ DaSET 2023

Very pleased that our MCAST IICT undergraduate research, authored by Ms Clair Abela and myself, has been accepted and presented at the 2nd International Conference on Data Science and Emerging Technologies 2023 (DaSET 2023). Our study titled “Wound Stage Recognition using YOLOv5” focuses on the use of YOLOv5 to detect and classify pressure injuries. Clair has demonstrated great dedication and rigor in her research undertaking and excelled not just at an institute level but also at an international level, representing MCAST and Malta. The full publication can be found on Springer Link.

Abstract: Pressure injuries or pressure sores are lesions that develop over the bony prominences of the body. It is noted from professional nurses and from first-hand experience, that such wounds are often wrongly classified, making the healing process difficult and painful for the patient, when it does not need to be the case. This study aims to research the use of modern computer vision and artificial intelligence techniques to aid in the classification of pressure ulcers to a degree superior to that achieved by humans. The YOLOv5 algorithm was trained in various combinations of three data sets. Single-phase and multi-phase architecture models were developed and trained for the different data set configurations to identify the ideal scenario of classification for the different stages of pressure ulcers. A single-phase architecture model trained using the public data sets and enhanced with the novel data set improves on the current state of the art. While the single-phase architecture was deemed the better option for the wound stage classification throughout this study, both architectures had their own strong points. The multi-phase architecture was found to be better suited for smaller data sets, while the single-phase architecture was better suited for larger ones. It was also found that throughout both architectures, the combination of 3 data sets is varied enough, however, less is not. This study is further strengthened through the input of different viewpoints that complement the lead researcher’s work.

MCAST @ B2C 2022

It was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to present our research at the B2C 2022 Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Mr Jake Carabott has presented our research titled “A Last Mile Blockchain Based Proof of Delivery System” in which we explore the use of blockchain technology as a solution for the last mile delivery service.

In this research, Jake has custom-built a locker fitted with a smart lock that interacts with a custom-built mobile application. This application allows the owner to manage access to the locker with a courier being allowed to deposit parcels when a human is not available to gather. Access is logged on the blockchain for transparency and auditing purposes. This proof of concept prototype has been lab-tested and validated. To further complement the research an interview with a manager in a logistics company was held to get the business point of view, as well as a survey with 100 respondents to gather the end-user point of view.

The conference was packed with various other Blockchain research by other students and various keynote speakers. Thanks to MCAST IICT for the support. Special thanks to Profs. Sergey Yurish for the organization of this conference.

My journey to 21 KM run

I never used to run, apart from the sports day at primary and secondary school, always preferred adventurous sports like abseiling, camping and diving. So during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I found myself at the age of 37 years, working long hours at home with little activity. By February 2021 I was obese at 85kg and would end up out of breath after a 10-minute walk along a promenade. Something needed to change, we bought a kayak, my wife and I, and started going at weekends. There was little improvement so something else needed to change. In July 2021, I started my running training and today, 7 months later I completed my first 21 KM run. This is a journey of self-awareness, health, mental control, friendship, goal setting, support and love.

This is where my best friend and diving buddy, Matthew Farrugia, comes in. He went through a major life change and became fixated on fitness. Sharing his insights and knowledge, I set out a plan to start with walking, then intervals, then complemented with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Just two weeks after starting, I started developing shin pains and was recommended to a great Podiatrist Mr Clinton Schembri Francalanza. Found out I am severely flat-footed and needed to work a lot on my running technique. Bought a proper running shoe with a stable frame and gradually started improving my technique. My first lesson, get the right equipment and listen to your body.

In time I started to be able to complete a 5 km run in one go with no stops at a personal best of around 32 minutes. That is when my friend Matt told me to do a trial race at the 3-cities route, starting from St. Angelo, via Bormla, to Senglea point and back. What should have been a 6′ per km pace ended up being a 5’30” per km with a stitch forming at the 3rd km. That is where Matt’s motivation and support kicked in, maintaining the same pace and telling to keep running. We ended the run at 27’16”, a 5-minute improvement and a mind-opening experience, running pain only hurts. I rested for a week, then repeated the distance and pace on the treadmill, then repeated it on my own improving to just below 25 minutes.

My first 3-cities track in under 28 minutes.

This was after just over 3 months of training, losing on average 600 grams a week, at which point was weighting 74kg. My next goal was to keep going to 71kg and complete a 10km run. In December I started running with another friend and colleague of mine, Luke Vella Critien. We started running three times a week and gradually picked up distance and pace. Kept pushing my limits until we managed to complete 10 km at the 3-cities route in under 50 minutes. Having completed this goal I set my next goal for endurance, to be able to complete 21 km. Luke asked if I’d consider going up to Imtarfa Tower, a route I was afraid of due to the incline and thought I was not going to make it, but I did not want to miss on the opportunity so we went for it. Our first 12 km route, with a steep incline, is yet another mind-opening experience, with a controlled pace you can conquer any route.

At around this period two other great events happened, my wife decided to start walking with me, then my brother started following a similar programme to mine. Another mind-opening experience, fitness training is contagious.

The Malta Marathon was approaching and with it came a lot of drama. I was not interested in participating, just wanted to reach my personal goals and have fun. Together with it, the 7-month milestone of running was approaching. I had to miss two practice runs due to slight injury and other events, yet was determined to attempt a 21 km route on Monday the 28th of February 2022. Practised 10 km two days before, had chicken for two days, prepared my running setup, took 2 supplements to take at the 9 km and 18 km milestones, planned and memorized the route well, and most of all prepared mentally. I had to let go of negative events and thoughts that were weighing me down and focus on my goals.

The day came, 4:30 am, woke up and prepared, was out just before 5:00 am. 2 km in, started feeling some soreness and at 3 km started feeling a stitch, “You are stronger than the stitch”, “running pain just hurts”, “you have been here, you are going to make it”. This is a mental challenge as much as it is a physical challenge. The route is mixed with uphills and downhills, remembering what Matt had told me, use the downhills and flatland to rest, control your breathing, maintain a steady pace. At 11 km was near the Radar Dome at Dingli, past halfway, at the highest point, time to take a supplement. Wow, these fruit mix puree really pack an energy boost. At 16 km was exiting Mdina and going downhill. For the first time let out a “Woohoo” aloud like my friend Luke does, that feels good. The last 2 km were painful due to blisters, knee soreness, fatigue, but was feeling really good.

I reached my goal of completing 21 km at 2 hours 10 minutes, painful but really rewarding with a feel-good factor. I learnt a lot during this 7-month process and now my greatest goal yet, keeping a balanced routine of 1-2 hrs for six days a week for as long as I can. I started a new habit for my personal health and well being and got so much more, it also came with the support of many. Thanks to my best friend Matt for your support, guidance and motivation. Thanks to my Podiatrist Clinton for your excellent guidance and service. Thanks to my friend Luke for being a running buddy, for your support and for motivating each other. Most of all to my wife Sephora for all your patience, support and love.

MCAST Research & Innovation EXPO 2021

It was a real pleasure and honour to participate and present current research undertaken at MCAST Research & Innovation Expo 2021. Great advancements and achievements from cross-institute and industry collaboration.

Mr Juan Jose Bonello, Mr Daren Scerri and I presented our work under the Continuous Assessment of Pollution and Environment Events via Satellites (CAPES), namely the Land-Use and Land-Cover project with the Malta Resource Authority, the research in remote NO2 sensing with Ms Abigail Vella, and the RemSen event.

With Ms Kimberly Terribile, Mr Juan Jose Bonello and Mr Daren Scerri we presented our research in the Recognition of Underutilized Maltese Marine Species (RUMMS).

MCAST @ ICCE-Berlin 2021

At the 11th IEEE International Conference on Consumer Technology, six undergraduate research have been published. Mr Justin Duncan, Mr Sigmond Gatt, Ms Yanika Mifsud and Mr Owen Xuereb were mentored by myself, whilst Ms Zvetlana Bajada and Mr Silvan Vella were mentored by Mr Daren Scerri.

Mr Justin Duncan has undertaken research in “Social Distancing Crowd Segmentation, Estimation and Visualisation”. Mr Sigmond Gatt researched “Use of Blockchain Technology in Automation of Ad-Hoc Leasing Agreements”. Ms Yanika Mifsud has researched “Dance Style Classification by LSTM RNN”. Mr Owen Xuereb researched “A Grad-CAM and YOLO based approach to extracting a human passageway ROI”. Ms Zvetlana Bajada focused her research in “A Cloud-based Edtech Framework for Augmenting 3D Objects to Assist Vocational Learning”. Mr Silvan Vella has researched “Vision-based Health Protocol Observance System for Small Rooms”.

It was also an honour and privilege to have served on the Technical Programme Committee where I had the opportunity and pleasure of reviewing other research. Thank you to the team.

Well done to all students for your hard work and dedication.


On the 10th November 2021, MCAST IICT was represented by Ms Abigail Vella who presented our research in “Remote NO2 emissions assessment during COVID-19 lockdowns” at the BNAIC/BENELEARN 2021 conference. This work was also assisted by Mr Daren Scerri. We made use of the European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel-5 satellites and observed the emissions for the months of March-May of 2019 and 2020. Our observations were strongly correlated with official reports by the Environment & Resource Authority, to whom we presented our findings. A really well done to Ms Abigail Vella for her hard work and dedication, really proud of our work.

A really well done to the organising committee of the conference and to the University of Luxembourg for such a wonderful and inspiring event. Strongly recommend the event and venue.

RemSen 21

This year, Mr Daren Scerri and I have set up and organized the first Remote Sensing hackathon for MCAST, named RemSen 21. This event started in February till June of this year, during which we trained our IICT degree students in the use of the European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite data. For the competition, the participants were requested to research topics of local relevance and of environmental importance. Supporting this event was the Ministry for the Environment & Climate Change Planning, Environment & Resource Authority, EIC-Climate KIC Malta and eSkills Foundation Malta. On the 11th of June, we had a half-day seminar during which our participants presented their work. We wish to congratulate all participants: Abigail Vella, Dylan Luke Abela, Eman Paul Abela, Gabriel Gauci, Ismael Scicluna, Kurt Agius, Leonard Bruno, Luke Zammit, Mandy Cortis, Marc Finger, Massimo Darmanin and Robert Meli. Special congratulations go to Ms Mandy Cortis for being recognised with the best overall project for her research in the progress done in Wied Fulija; to Mr Leonard Bruno for being recognised with the best technical development with his research in Maltese coastline erosion; finally to Mr Massimo Darmanin for being recognised with the best impact project for his research in various uses of Remote Sensing in Malta. Our intention is to focus on the Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5 satellites for RemSen 22. Thank you and well done to all.

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