Newsletter April 2021

Message from the DISC Office

Dear all,

Welcome to the April newsletter. Behind the scenes we are working very hard to make the ECC 2021 a successful (virtual) event. On June 29, the day preceding the conference, there are some very interesting workshops on offer. Be sure to check them out and register in time! As slowly the COVID- regulations are being lifted we remain hopeful that we greet a group of Belgian en Dutch PhD’s at De Doelen for a special Benelux workshop.

A hopeful sign is that we are able to return to Utrecht for the course Design Methods for Control! We are also working on the course program 2021-2022, so if you have an interesting idea for a course do let us know!

With best regards,

Henk Nijmeijer,
scientific director

Martha Otte,
DISC secretariat

Upcoming DISC courses

In May the following courses will start:

Design Methods for Control Systems
T. Oomen
J. van Wingerden

Convex Optimization and Game Theory ONLINE
S. Grammatico
P. Mohajerin Esfahani

For the full list of courses offered in 2020-2021 click here

DISC Summer School 2021 “Planning, Learning and Control for Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems” (FULL-WAITING LIST)

We have reached the maximum number of participants. We have created a waiting list in case there are openings. Contact

Javier Alonso Mora, Ming Cao and Ömür Arslan have the pleasure to invite you to participate in the DISC Summer School “Planning, Learning and Control for Multi-Robot and Multi-Agent Systems”.

The main program will consist of a number of international and national speakers, e.g.:

  • Jenjen Chung, ETH Zurich, CH
  • Dimos Dimarogonas, KTH, Sweden
  • Marco Dorigo, Universite’ Libre de Bruxelles, BE
  • Dan Halperin, Tel Aviv University, IL
  • Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Naomi Leonard, Princeton, USA
  • Eduardo Montijano, University of Zaragoza
  • Daniela Rus MIT, USA

Program and set-up
From June 8-10 the Summer School will be virtual in MS Teams. Every day will include exercises and group work to ensure the Summer School is interactive and engaging. On June 11 we are organizing a physical meeting in Utrecht, at Cursus- en vergadercentrum Domstad. For those participants who are not able to come to Utrecht there will be live streaming.
If the regulations do not allow a meeting in Utrecht, the last day of the Summer School will also be virtual for all participants.
Click here for the tentative program. Please note there may be changes.

PhD students can obtain 1,5 credit for the DISC Summer School. We expect active participation in the assignments and discussions.

DISC members

€175 (before May 9, 2021)
€225 (after May 9, 2021)

Non-DISC members
€225 (before May 9, 2021)
€350 (after May 9, 2021)

Register for the Summer School on the DISC course platform. Registration closes on May 22, 2021. The maximum number of participants is 50. The number of participants on June 11 may be restricted due to COVID-19 regulations.

For more information please visit the website:

European Control Conference 2021 (registration workshops closes May 21)

European Control Conference 2021 (virtual conference)
June 29-July 2, 2021.

The registration is now open!

There are several interesting workshops which will take place on June 29, 2021. Please click here to see the full list. Registration for the workshops closes on May 21.

General chair
Henk Nijmeijer (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Jacquelien Scherpen (University of Groningen)
Maurice Heemels (Eindhoven University of Technology)

NOC Chair
Hans Hellendoorn (Delft University of Technology)

ECC 2021 is organised in cooperation with: EUCA, IFAC and IEEE Control Systems Society

The accepted papers will be indexed and published on the IEEE Xplore digital library. We are also working towards a stronger link with the European Journal of Control for publication of selected papers of the conference.

We look forward to welcoming you to the ECC 2021!

DISC course proposals 2021-2022

On behalf of the board and scientific director of DISC we kindly invite you to submit proposals for DISC courses for the academic year 2021-2022. In 2020 and 2021 most of the planned DISC courses switched to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very grateful that the lecturers are so flexible, this has enabled us to offer the DISC PhD’s a course program in a very challenging situation.

In 2021-2022 it is our intention to resume organizing the courses in Utrecht. We believe the interaction between the students and between students and the lecturers is a very important part of our education and generally that works better when everyone is together in a physical location. We are also getting this feedback from lecturers and students. Having said that, we do welcome course proposals that include online activities. Classes in Utrecht could very well be alternated with virtual sessions, especially if an international lecturer is involved.

You can submit a proposal for:
-Basic courses (8 weeks) (both basic and specialized)
-Short courses (4 weeks)

It is also possible to reintroduce a  course that has been successful in the past. There is also an  opportunity to involve international (guest) lecturers in the program. You are invited to submit proposals. DISC is willing to contribute to the costs of traveling and accommodation. But as mentioned above it also possible that an international lecturer would give his/her lectures online.

We are looking forward to your proposal(s). Please submit by May 7, 2021.

ERC Advanced Grant for Bart De Schutter (TUD)

The European Research Council has awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to Bart De Schutter, full professor at the Delft Center for Systems and Control.
Bart De Schutter’s research focuses control of large-scale networks, with applications in transportation and infrastructure networks.

Within the ERC Advanced Grant project “CLariNet: A Novel Control Paradigm for Large-Scale Hybrid Networks”, Bart De Schutter will develop efficient on-line control methods for large-scale networks with hybrid dynamics in the presence of uncertainties. Control of such large-scale networks is a very complex problem due to the large size of the network, the presence of disturbances, and the hybrid dynamics, while a limited computation time is available. State-of-the-art control methods are not suited for these systems as they either suffer from computational tractability issues or impose additional restrictions, resulting in a significantly reduced performance.
To address this problem, Bart De Schutter and his team will create a new on-line control paradigm for large-scale networks with hybrid dynamics based on an innovative integration of multi-agent optimization-based and learning-based control, allowing to unite the optimality of optimization-based control with the on-line tractability of learning-based control.

For more information, please see

New people

Delft University of Technology

Before my time in Delft, I studied Artificial Intelligence at the University of Groningen. I’ve completed the trinity of BSc, MSc, and my doctorate in the northern-most part of the Netherlands. During my Masters I’ve been part of the BORG RoboCup team for developing and demonstrating a domestic service robot, focusing on speech interaction and behavior selection.
For my PhD I worked on flow sensing within the EU H2020 Lakshmi project. The goal of this project was to detect and track nearby underwater objects and obstacles using passive flow sensing. We designed an array of novel bi-directional flow sensors, with which we were able to locate nearby moving objects and classify their shape. With this experience under my proverbial belt, I’m hoping that my approach still holds water…

My hobbies have transitioned a bit from playing table top and console games with friends in-person, to – you guessed it – the online environment.

I’m Pedro Ferreira, a new Portuguese addition to the DCSC PhD team, and my supervisor is Professor Peyman Mohajerin Esfahani from the Networked Cyber-Physical Systems section.

Apart from my difficult-to-pronounce surname, let me introduce myself a bit more: I have a MSc in Applied Mathematics and a BSc in Engineering Physics from Instituto Superior Técnico (University of Lisbon). I spent 4 months in the United States while doing my master’s thesis as an invited research scholar under the supervision of an also new member of the DCSC, Professor Sérgio Pequito.

Hello, my name is Luca Laurenti and I will join DCSC in March as Assistant Professor. My research interests are at the intersection of probabilistic systems, control theory, machine learning, and formal methods. I am looking forward to meet you all!

I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran. I initially majored in Manufacturing and Production Engineering but quickly developed an interest in Dynamics and Control. In my Masters, I worked on design and implementation of a soft robot for hand rehabilitation, where I developed a novel analytical dynamic model for soft fiber-reinforced bending actuators. Research on soft robots has helped me gain experience in applying nonlinear dynamics and control theory in real-life problems.
I will be joining DCSC in February 2021 as a Ph.D. student. During my doctoral studies at the Delft University of Technology, I will be focusing on the control of evasive maneuvers for automated driving under the supervision of Prof. De Schutter and Prof. Baldi

I am Amr, a 27-year-old Egyptian coming from Alexandria. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Alexandria University in 2018. Afterwards, I was granted an Erasmus scholarship to do a 2-year master’s programme in Offshore Renewable Energy Systems, which I completed last September, within three universities: University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland), University of the Basque Country (Bilbao, Spain) and Ecole Centrale de Nantes (Nantes, France). Last month, I joined DCSC as a PhD Candidate in Wave Feedforward Wind Turbine Control as part of FLOATECH project, which will be under the supervision of Prof. Jan-Willem van Wingerden.
Apart from work, I am a field hockey player, in which the Netherlands is very good at. I played at the highest level as I participated in the World Cup with Egyptian National Team, with which I used to play for years. So, I will definitely be playing field hockey here.

In January 2021, I joined the DCSC group as a Postdoctoral Researcher. Wind energy research drives me, and therefore I obtained my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering focusing on wind turbine aerodynamic and aeroacoustics from TU Delft. Following that, I worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at CWI Amsterdam focusing on topics like uncertainty quantification and surrogate modeling of wind turbine computer models. My current work will focus on benchmarking and calibration of control models used for wind farm control applications. In my free time, I enjoy photography and training for triathlon races

“I am Tushar, a recent PhD candidate in the DCSC. I have just finished my master in Automotive from Germany. For the last one and a half years, I have worked as a student assistant on anomaly detection and virtual sensor development projects with machine learning in the Automotive Industry. I will be starting with my PhD on sparse data-driven methods for the prognosis of Electric vehicles for the Volvo under Dr Ferrari’s guidance.
Apart from going through the recent advancements in data-driven modelling techniques, I love cooking and travelling. I would love to meet you all in person as these corona measures start relaxing.”

University of Groningen

Hi, I am Linda Ong from Indonesia. I am a biomedical engineer with an electrical engineering background. Previously, I worked as a research engineer in an IT company in Italy for developing biomedical applications for bone-cutting surgery. For my Ph.D. research study at RuG, I am going to work on the development of a personalized decision support system for promoting a healthy lifestyle in adults. The development of a decision support algorithm will be based on the hybrid of expert knowledge as well as the machine learning approach. I am also looking forward to meeting all of you.

Hi ! I am Auriane Cadorin, 23 yo, I came to Groningen in early April to work on the NWO-project ” Shared connectivity in Mobility and Logistics Enable Sustainability (SMiLES) ” as a Junior Researcher in Optimization and Decision Systems. I come from France where I studied mathematics in an Engineering School (INSA Rouen) and specialized myself in Operations Research during an Erasmus semester in Germany (TU Kaiserslautern) and an internship in Saint-Gobain Research Paris. ”

University of Wageningen

Hello, my name is Sjoerd Boersma and I started recently as a post-doc at the university of Wageningen. I am working on the Virtual Tomato Crops project. The objective of this project is to formulate a digital twin model of the greenhouse with tomato crops and consequently use this model to optimize energy usage per kilogram tomato yield. Great challenge! In my spare time I like to sport.

Ricardo Castro received his (Integrated) M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Portugal, in 2011. For his M.Sc. graduation work (continued later as a researcher), he was part of the “Hospital Benchmarking” project, where he developed efficiency models to benchmark hospital services in the Portuguese National Health System and proposed new effectiveness measures to assess and compare surgeons and surgical services regarding the outcome life/death after a surgery.
He moved to the Space sector, working, from 2014 until 2020, at the Technology Programmes Office of the European Space Agency, supporting the management of the technology developments pursued by the Agency in support of its future missions.
Back in Academia, and working at the NWO project “SYstem change for New Ecology-based and Resource efficient Growth with high tech In Agriculture (SYNERGIA)”, he aims to contribute to the new “Technology for Ecology” concept, by developing a controller of feed intake that can assist commercial dairy farming in moving towards an ecological production method that can minimize its environmental impact without jeopardizing productivity.

University of Twente

Frederic P. Schuller is an expert on the applications of differential geometry in physics and engineering. He obtained a Master of Advanced Studies in Mathematics and a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics from the University of Cambridge, working in Stephen Hawking’s general relativity group with G. W. Gibbons FRS. He was subsequently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and a Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Gravitational Physics and held temporary Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor positions of Mathematical and Theoretical Physics in several countries. At the University of Twente, his research focuses on applications of differential geometry to robotics in fluids within the ERC PortWings Project and quantum port-Hamiltonian systems theory. For his internationally known advanced lecture courses on differential geometry, quantum mechanics and general relativity and his supervision of research students he received numerous awards, including the 2016 Ars Legendi Prize as Germany’s top physics lecturer.


PhD defences April 2021

Eindhoven University of Technology

Candidate: Frans Verbruggen
Group: CST
Thesis: Design of electrified powertrains for heavy-duty trucks
Promotor: Theo Hofman + Maarten Steinbuch
Date: 13 April 2021
Location: Lecture room 4, Auditorium
Time: 16.00

University of Groningen

Candidate: Mark Jeeninga
Group: ENTEG & BI
Thesis: DC power flow feasibility for constant-power loads
Promotores: Claudio De Persis & Arjan van der Schaft
Date: 30-04-2021
Location: Academy building, University of Groningen
Time: 16.15

Candidate: Carlo Cenedese
Group: ENTEG
Thesis: Multi-agent network games with applications  in smart electric mobility
Promotor: Ming Cao en Jacquelien Scherpen
Date: 16-04-2021
Time: 11.00

Wageningen University

Candidate: MH (Hakan) Kandemir
Group: WUR-Biometris
Promotor: Prof. dr. ir. K.J. Keesman
Date: 23-04-2021
Location: De Harmonie, Leeuwarden (hybrid)
Time: 13:30

University of Twente

Candidate: Christoff Heunis
Group: Biomechanical Engineering, Surgical Robotics
Thesis: Advanced Robotics for Magnetic Manipulation
The Mobile Magnetic Vascular Surgeon
Promotor: Prof.dr. S. Misra
Date: 22 April 2021
Location: University of Twente, Prof. dr. G. Berkhoff-Zaal Waaijer
Time: 16:45

Next issue of the newsletter

The next issue of this Newsletter will appear in May 2021. 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.
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