Newsletter April 2018

Message from the DISC office

Dear DISC member,

Welcome to the April edition of the DISC newsletter! We can look back at a very successful Benelux Meeting at Kontakt der Kontinenten in Soesterberg. We had a record number of participants (224) and interesting lectures by our invited speakers. Thanks again to the organizing team for making this possible!

The registrations the Summer School on Machine Learning are also going well and we already have a group of almost 30 people. If you are thinking of joining, don’t wait too long to register.

We are happy to congratulate Stefano Stramigioli with his ERC advanced grant and Bayu Jayawardhana and Sarthak Misra with their promotion to full professor! Also we welcome a new addition to DISC, the group Farm Technology of Wageningen University & Research has recently joined.

Unfortunately there was sad news as well, about the passing away of Ruth Curtain. Hans Zwart, who knew her well, has written an obituary in the newsletter.

With best regards,

Henk Nijmeijer,
Scientific director

Martha Otte,
DISC secretariat

In Memorian Ruth Curtain

On March 19, 2018, Ruth Curtain passed away. After finishing her masters in her home town Melbourne, Australia she moved to Brown University (USA) to do her Ph.D. Many pioneers of modern control theory such as La Salle, Wonham, and Hale, were at Brown at that time. In 1969 she obtained her doctor degree. After one and a half year at Purdue University (USA) she moved to Warwick (UK) to join the newly founded Control Theory Center. Since her career opportunities in Warwick were limited, she took a position as “lector’’ at the mathematics department of the University of Groningen in 1976. Although her plan was only to stay a couple of years, she remained in Groningen. This was mainly due to the many good math students that had interest in systems theory. Together with Jan Willems she was responsible for a large variety of advanced lectures on (emerging) topics in system theory. Of course, these classes led to master and Ph.D. students. With her Ph.D. students she kept in close contact after their graduation. Her field of expertise was infinite-dimensional systems theory. Whereas finite-dimensional system theory study systems described by ordinary differential equations, its infinite-dimensional counterpart does this for systems described by partial differential equations or delay differential equations. Her scientific life can be characterized by two items. First of all, she had a keen eye for new results in finite-dimensional systems theory and knew how to extend these to her field. She did this with e.g. the LQG problem and robust control. Secondly, she found very important to share the knowledge which lied scattered in journal papers. Already in 1978, she published together with Tony Pritchard the first text book on the theory of infinite-dimensional systems. Based on the success of that book she asked me in 1989 to make an updated version which would also contain exercises. The new material and exercises were used in two courses for the Dutch Network on Systems and Control (the predecessor of DISC). Next to being responsible for courses she also served among others as chairman during the transition period of the Network to DISC. After her retirement she remained active. For instance, we have been busy writing a second, again updated version of our book, and with Orest Iftime she was writing the solution manual. Although these books are almost finished, she passed away before they were finalized.

Hans Zwart

Upcoming DISC courses

On April 9 the last two DISC courses of this academic year started:

Design Methods for Control Systems
M. Steinbuch
G. Meinsma

System Identification
P. Van den Hof
J. Schoukens
G. Bottegal
X. Bombois

We are currently working on the new program and will share more information soon!

37th Benelux Meeting on Systems and Control

The organisers were Mircea Lazar (Eindhoven University of Technology), Raffaella Carloni (University of Groningen) and  Bayu Jayawardhana (University of Groningen).






Tamas Keviczky (Delft University of Technology) and Dongheui Lee (Technical University of Munich) each gave a lecture. Murat Arcak (Berkeley University California) taught a minicourse.

Best Junior Presentation Award

The best junior presentation award has become a longstanding Benelux tradition. Johan Schoukens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel); Bart Besselink (University of Groningen) and Alessandro Saccon (Eindhoven University of Technology) acted as jury. They called the top ten finalists to the stage:

Alex Andrien (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Ruud Beerens (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Gaia Cavallo (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Yanick Douven (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Zuan Khalik (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Johnny Leung (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Paul Padilla Cazar (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Suraj Prakash (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Ferdie Reijnen (Eindhoven University of Technology)
Tjerk Stegink (University of Groningen)







And the winner was Paul Padilla Cazar (Eindhoven University of Technology). Congratulations!!

DISC Best Thesis Award 2017

The annual DISC Best Thesis Award was awarded to Sofie Haesaert for her thesis “Data-driven and model-based methods for verification and control of physical systems”. Sofie was also one the four PhD’s who were selected for the DISC NWO Graduate Programme. Sofie defended her thesis at Eindhoven University of Technology on February 16, 2017 and she was supervised by prof. Paul Van den Hof and dr. Alessandro Abate.
The jury was formed by Hans Zwart (University of Twente), Manuel Mazo (Delft University of Technology) and Dennis Schipper (Demcon). There were four finalists this year:

  • Sofie Haesaert (Eindhoven University of Technology) . Data-driven and model-based methods for verification and control of physical systems. 
  • Xi Luo (Eindhoven University of Technology) . Robust Diesel performance: an approach based on Multi-pulse Fuel Injection Control
  • Anahita Jamshidnejad (Delft University of Technology). Efficient Predictive Model-Based and Fuzzy Control for Green Urban Mobility
  • Pouria Ramazi (University of Groningen) . Convergence Analysis and Control of Evolutionary Matrix-Game Dynamics

Manuel Mazo was present to announce the winner, but Sofie now works at Caltech so she called in via skype.






DISC certificates

Another annual tradition is the DISC certificates award ceremony. During the meeting certificates for a completed PhD course program were awarded to:

Cees Verdier (TUD-DCSC)
Robert van der Weijst (TUe/ME)
Daniel Veldman (TUe/ME)
Paul Padilla Cazar (TUe/EE)
Ruben Merks (TUe/EE)
Jurre Hanema (TUe/EE)
Nelson Chan (RUG-ENTEG)









During this year certificates were also awarded to:

Vahab Rostampour Samarin (TUD DCSC)
Martijn Dresscher (RUG-ENTEG)
Ruud Beerens (TUe/ME)
Stefan Heijmans (TU/e ME)
Frans Hoogeboom (TUe/ME)

DISC Summer School 2018: Machine Learning for Control






Jens Kober, Roland Tóth and Robert Babuska have the pleasure to invite you to participate in the DISC Summer School on “Machine Learning for Control”, which will to take place from June 18-21, 2018, at NH Atlantic, the Hague (Kijkduin), The Netherlands.The invitation is aimed at Phd and research students, staff members, researchers and engineers engaged in the systems and control area. Distinguished speakers will present a series of tutorial lectures.

Since 1990, DISC has successfully organized yearly summer schools on various topics pertinent to theoretical and practical aspects of systems and control, with an international audience of about 40-60 participants. Together with the graduate course program that is maintained by DISC, the summer schools form part of the educational facilities that DISC offers to PhD students in systems theory and control engineering. The main goal of the summer schools is to familiarize young researchers with recent developments in systems and control as well as in neighboring disciplines, and to provide them with the opportunity to enjoy, in an informal atmosphere, discussions with top researchers in systems and control. The summer schools also provide an opportunity for DISC staff members and others to upgrade their knowledge of specific areas of interest.

Machine Learning for Control
In the past years, machine learning and especially deep learning have seen a dramatic increase of popularity in research, commercial applications, and also in society. Major breakthroughs have been achieved, e.g., in the fields of vision, speech recognition, machine translation, automated trading, recommender systems, data analytics, autonomous driving. Forefront developments already indicate that machine learning will potentially have a drastic impact on control design and system identification and related fields.

The summer school covers the basic as well as more advanced concepts of machine learning techniques commonly used in modelling, control and estimation problems. Topics include Gaussian processes, deep learning, state representation learning, self-supervised learning, and reinforcement learning.

The lectures will include examples of applications, demonstrations and hands on exercises, wherever possible. Participants will have ample opportunity to discuss their own research with the speakers and amongst each other.

The main program will consist of a number of international and national speakers. Keynote lectures will be given by:

  • Wolfram Burgard, University of Freiburg, Germany
  • Gerhard Neumann, University of Lincoln, UK
  • Melanie Zeilinger, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Alessandro Chiuso, University of Padova, Italy
  • Guido de Croon, Delft University of Technology, NL

and complemented by talks given by DISC lecturers:

  • Jens Kober, Delft University of Technology, NL
  • Roland Tóth, Eindhoven University of Technology, NL

Updates on speakers will be announced on the website.

The program will become available soon

PhD students can obtain 1,5 credit for the DISC Summer School

The registration fee includes:
• Overnight stay on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
• All meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner) are included, from lunch on Monday until lunch on Thursday. There will also be two coffee breaks each day.
• Admission to all sessions
• An USB stick with the lecture notes, so please take your laptop with you.
• Coffee, tea and water during the meeting.
• Internet access on the hotel premises

You will be staying in a double room which you will share with one of the other participants.You can let us know if you would like to share with someone in particular, otherwise we will assign the rooms. There is a limited number of single rooms available at a higher rate.
For more information about the hotel and its facilities, see

Summer School course material
All the course material will be available online, exclusively for the participants of the Summer School. At the beginning of the Summer School you will receive all available slides on USB stick. Please take your laptop with you, internet access is available.

The registration fees are:
800,- Euro for DISC-students and DISC-members (early bird-register before May 7, 2018)
1000,- Euro for non-DISC members (early bird-register before May 7, 20187)

After May 7, 2018
the registration fees are:
950,- Euro for DISC-students and DISC-members
1150,- Euro for non-DISC members

Extra charge for single room: if you would like a single room there will be an extra charge of 140,- Euro  added to your registration fee. There is a limited number of single rooms available and they are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

The school is limited to 50 participants based on a first-come first-serve policy. The registration deadline is June 4, 2018 (Early bird deadline May 7, 2018).

You can register at the following website: Non DISC members can also send an email to: (Please mention your full name and university affiliation including address).

All payments must be made in EUR, incorporating all charges. The account details are:

For transfer from a Dutch account:
IBAN: NL65INGB0003127876
Stichting SMBT
Postbus 3351
2601 DJ Delft

For all other accounts:
Bijlmerdreef 109
NL-1102 BW Amsterdam
IBAN: NL65INGB0003127876
Account holder: Stichting SMBT

Please indicate your name and mention “Disc Summer School 2018” on the transfer, otherwise your payment cannot be traced to your reservation. Payment must be received before the start of the Summer School.

Unfortunately Credit Card payments cannot be accepted.

Cancellation and refund policy
Cancellations are to be made in writing/email to Cancellations received before May 7, 2018 will be reimbursed in full after deduction of an administrative charge of EUR 35. If you cancel between May 7 and June 1, 2018 you will be required to pay half of the registration fee. For cancellations received after June 1, 2018 no refunds can be made. Substitutions can always be made at no additional charge if the accommodation is still available.

More information
For further information regarding the conference location, registrations or other organizational matters contact the DISC administrative office: Martha Otte (>

For further information regarding the program and scope of the Summer School contact the organizers: Jens Kober (; Roland Tóth ( and Robert Babuska (

NecSys 2018 new paper submission deadline

The paper submission deadline for NecSys 2018 has been extended
** New submission deadline:
April 30th (there will be no more extensions) **

Submission details can be found on the conference webpage:

Claudio De Persis and Ming Cao (conference co-chair)
Mehran Mesbahi, Kanat Camlibel, Hyungbo Shim (IPC chairs)

IFAC copyright conditions:

Stefano Stramigioli (University of Twente) receives ERC advanced grant

Professor Stefano Stramigioli wants to develop a new theory on flapping flight, leading to the next generation of robotic birds. For this, he received an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council, worth 2.8 million euros.

The first robotic birds, like the RoBird that was developed at the University of Twente, are flying and operational right now. Still, taking off and landing like a bird or asymmetric wing flapping are not possible yet.In his new research project, Stramigioli wants to go much further: “We still don’t understand the 3D flow dynamics well enough. How to control this dynamics and design robots that can deal with it, is the next step. What we can’t do yet, is taking off and landing like a bird does, flying with asymmetrically flapping wings or automatically adapt to flow.”

Jens Kober (Delft University of Technology) wins Early Academic Career Award in Robotics and Automation

He will receive the award during the IEEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation (ICRA 2018) on 24 May 2018 in Brisbane.

Congratulations Jens!

Bayu Jayawardhana (University of Groningen) appointed full professor





Per 1 April 2018, Bayu Jayawardhana  has been promoted to full professor in Mechatronics and Control of Nonlinear Systems, within the Engineering and Technology Institute Groningen.

Sarthak Misra (University of Twente) appointed full professor





Dr. S. Misra heen been appointed as the chair of Surgical Robotics (Faculty of Engineering Technology) as from the 1st of November 2017.

Group Farm Technology (WUR) joins DISC






The DISC board has recently approved the admittance of the group Farm Technology of Wageningen University & Research.

The Farm Technology Group aims at enhancing, exploiting and disseminating technology in primary agricultural production processes with the aim to fulfill the needs of mankind and nature in a sustainable way.

Farm technology has approximately 9 research/ teaching staff and 9 PhD’s. The chair holders are prof. dr. ir Eldert van Henten and prof.dr. ir. Peter Groot Koerkamp.

We welcome them to DISC and look forward to a pleasant collaboration!

Vacancy at Wageningen University & Research

There is a a vacancy for a post-doc systems and control in precision farming at Wageningen University & Research:


New People

Hi, my name is Abhimanyu Gupta. I received a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi, India. I recently graduated with a Master’s in Systems and Control from TU Delft with a dissertation titled – Radial basis functions for aberration retrieval in adaptive optics. I am joining Hybrid Systems group as a PhD candidate to work on Model predictive control of discrete-event systems under the the supervision of dr. ir. Ton van den Boom. I enjoy playing tennis and listening to music.

Eindhoven University of Technology

Scholte, WouterName: Wouter Scholte
Starting date: 15-02-2018
Function: PhD
Group: TUe Dynamics and Control
Project: Dual-mode autonomous vehicle control
Supervisor: P.W.A. Zegelaar

Hello, I am Wouter Scholte and I have recently graduated at the Technical University of Eindhoven with great appreciation. I did my graduation project at Daimler AG in Böblingen where I worked on nonlinear vehicle motion state and parameter estimation. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. degree at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Dynamics & Control research group. My research is focused on the driving mode transitions in cooperative dual mode automated vehicles. This is a part of the i-CAVE project, more information about this project can be found at

University of Groningen

Hi! My name is Anja E. M. Schmerbauch. Having graduated from Ilmenau University of Technology with a M.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering I joined the Robotics Group at the University of Groningen in March 2018. My great interest in intelligent systems was aroused while working in exciting research projects at UC Canterbury, New Zealand and EPFL, Switzerland.
My PhD thesis will focus on: (i) the design and fabrication of actuation components for soft robots by using novel (soft) materials and design approaches; (ii) development of (analytical, numerical, predictive) models; (iii) development of (non-linear) control techniques and (iv) experimental validation.
Besides engineering, I enjoy making music and doing outdoor activities. For me it is a perfect way to develop new, creative ideas.

Greetings! I am Vishal Raveendranathan from India. I have graduated in Mechatronics Engineering and completed my post graduation in Mechatronics and Robotics from the University of Leeds, UK. The title of my MS thesis was “Muscle contributions during the transient and steady state of level ground walking”. After my post graduation, I worked at an aerospace research company as flight software engineer focusing on sensor fusions. Currently, I am doing my Ph.D. research on the topic “intuitive control of a transfemoral prosthetic leg”. I love tinkering electronics, web development, trekking, and camping.

Hello, I am Aniket Mazumder. I recently did my Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar. My Mtech thesis was on the Development of an adaptive portable gait characterization system. The system aimed at calculation of the degree of asymmetry carried by a person in walking while adapting to the changing walking patterns. I recently joined as a PhD student at the University of Groningen, and shall be working on the MyLeg Project ( The project aims at  developing the next generation transfemoral prosthetic leg incorporated with sensors so as to enhance cognitive abilities of the user. This in turn shall help in reducing the  dependence of amputees on caregivers and improve their quality of life.

Dr. S. Pavlichkov’s main results are concerned with designs of robust nonlinear controllers for nonlinear control systems and with stability analysis of large-scale networks of interconnected nonlinear systems by means of the ISS framework and by its methods. This includes recursive designs for nonlinear systems which are not feedback linearizable, robust and adaptive control of switched nonlinear systems with static and dynamic uncertainties, and getting new small gain theorems for large-scale networks. Some past results also overlap the tools of geometric nonlinear control theory and its framework with the emphasis on global nonlinear analysis and global properties.

PhD defences April

Candidate: S.M. (Sharon) Nijenhuis
Group: Biomechanical Engineering
Thesis: Roll up your sleeves! Technology-supported arm and hand training at home after stroke
Promotor: Prof.dr. J.S. Rietman
Date: 20 april 2018
Location: De Waaier
Time: 16:45 uur

Next issue of the newsletter

The next issue of this Newsletter will appear in May 2018.
We encourage the contributors to provide newsworthy information. In principle, we intend to publish any message offered. However, we reserve the right to edit certain parts of a submission.
Please send your contributions to: