Newsletter February 2024

Message from the DISC Office

Dear all,

Welcome to the February newsletter.

This is to inform you that we are organizing a DICS  & PERC Summer School from 16 – 21 June on the topic “Learning, sensing and control with application to agriculture”. It starts at 16:00 on Sunday June 16 and ends on  Friday 21 around lunchtime. More information will follow shortly.

With best regards,

Bayu Jayawardhana
scientific director

Renate Kragtwijk,
DISC secretariat

Course program 2023-2024

The DISC course schedule 2023-2024 is finalised.

All courses will take place in Utrecht at Cursus- en vergadercentrum Domstad.

We offer the following courses in 2024:

Please note that we have reached the maximum capacity for Model Predictive Control.  

Invitation Valedictory Lecture and Symposium Prof. Paul Van den Hof – please register before 15-03-2024

The Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology cordially invites you to attend the valedictory lecture of Paul Van den Hof. The lecture will be delivered on Friday, April 19, 2024, at 4.00 PM in the Blauwe Zaal of the Auditorium of TU Eindhoven (Building 1, check MAP TU/e ).
For more information, see

Preceding the valedictory lecture, there is a one-day scientific symposium “Four decades of data-driven modelling in systems and control – achievements and prospects”, for which a program and invitation are enclosed. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. You may register via this form. Registration deadline is 15-03-2024.


Brandon Caasenbrood received his PhD degree with the distinction cum laude at the Department of Mechanical Engineering (TU/e)

For his PhD thesis, Brandon Caasenbrood looked at new approaches to design, model, and control soft robots.

First, an optimization framework is presented that automates the design process of soft actuators, efficiently translating user-defined requirements into viable structures, and predicting deformation behaviors using standard continuum mechanical models. This enables a shift away from slower, manual design methods to a more efficient, predictive approach. The optimized designs can be directly turned into 3D models compatible with Stereo-Lithography (SLA) 3D printing.

Second, Caasenbrood introduces a simplified model based on flexible beams called Cosserat beams, which enable real-time simulation and control of soft robot by exploring energy-based modeling and control strategy. It also presents a new control method that adjusts the robot’s movements to efficiently reach and maintain a target position using energy minimization. This approach is applied to simulate the movements of soft robots inspired by natural organisms, such as the flexible arms of an octopus or the trunk of an elephant, allowing them to be controlled in a more refined and effective manner; and even used to recreate the famous Suzumori’s soft gripper experiments (1989) from literature from 30 years ago.

Finally, the thesis presents Sorotoki, a user-friendly MATLAB toolkit, designed to support various aspects of soft robotics research from design and modeling to control.

Title of PhD thesis: Design, Modeling, and Control Strategies for Soft Robots. Supervisors: Henk Nijmeijer and Sasha Pogromskiy.

Complete article TU/e

New people

Groningen University

Name: Michele Cucuzzella
Starting date: 01-02-2024
Function: Associate Professor
Group: DTPA

Michele Cucuzzella received the M.Sc. degree (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Systems and Control from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, in 2014 and 2018, respectively. From 2021 to 2024 he was Assistant Professor of Systems and Control at the University of Pavia and guest Researcher at the University of Groningen. Since 2023 he is visiting Associate Professor at the Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan. From 2017 until 2020, he was a Postdoc at the University of Groningen.

His research activities are mainly in the area of nonlinear control with application to the energy domain and smart complex systems. He has participated in various EU and national research projects mainly on modelling and control of smart energy systems and traffic networks. He has co-authored the book Advanced and Optimization Based Sliding Mode Control: Theory and Applications, SIAM, 2019. He serves as Associate Editor for the European Journal of Control since 2022 and is member of the EUCA Conference Editorial Board and the IEEE CSS Technology Conferences Editorial Board.

He received the Certificate of Outstanding Service as Reviewer of the IEEE Control Systems Letters 2019. He also received the 2020 IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology Outstanding Paper Award, the IEEE Italy Section Award for the best Ph.D. thesis on new technological challenges in energy and industry, and the SIDRA Award for the best Ph.D. thesis in the field of systems and control engineering. He was also finalist for the EECI Award for the best Ph.D. thesis in Europe in the field of control for complex and heterogeneous systems, and for the IEEE-CSS Italy Best Young Paper Award.

Eindhoven University of Technology

Name: César A. Gómez Pérez
Starting date: 01-02-2024
Function: Postdoc
Group: Control Systems – EE
Supervisor: Leyla Özkan
Project: Fuel cycle dynamic control strategy – EUROfusion

César completed his PhD in energy systems engineering at the National University of Colombia. During his training, he focused on biotechnology, process control systems, process optimization, process simulation, and mathematical modeling. He has also worked with computational fluid dynamics and techno-economic analysis. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and has a profound passion for dynamic systems. Together with Leyla, they will develop control strategy proposals to ensure the safety and reliability of fuel cycle systems as part of the EUROfusion project.

Name: Simon Eugster
Starting date: 01-03-2024
Function: Associate Professor
Group: Dynamics & Control
Supervisor:N. van de Wouw

Simon R. Eugster will start in March 2024 as an Associate Professor in the Dynamics and Control section. He will establish the group “highly flexible systems” with a research focus on the mathematical description of flexible multibody systems with frictional contact. The interests lie particularly in the modeling as well as in the numerical and analytical analysis of the static and dynamic behavior. The fundamental research is cross-fertilized by applications in soft robotics, rockfall protection systems, dynamics of legged robots, as well as the development of mechanical metamaterials.

Delft University of Technology

Name: Kaya ter Burg
Starting date:01-03-2024
Function: PhD
Group: TUD – ME – DCSC
Supervisor: Bart De Schutter
Project: Seaclear 2.0

Hi everyone, I’m Kaya and on the first of March I’m starting my PhD where I’ll be working on the SEACLEAR2.0 project. Under the supervision of Bart De Schutter, I’ll be focusing on improving the image recognition system, which I’m really excited about. My academic background is in Artificial Intelligence, where I’ve specialised myself in Computer Vision, Deep Learning and Explainable AI. Outside of work, I enjoy sewing, balfolk dancing, squash, crochet and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to getting to know the TU Delft and contributing to the research being done here.


PhD defences

Candidate: P.J.A.M. Mulders
Group: TU/e – ME
Thesis: Data Science on Farm Level: Explaining and Predicting Variability in Potato Yield
Promotor: W.P.M.H. Heemels and Prof.dr. E.R. van den Heuvel
Date: 06-03-2024
Location: TU/e Atlas  0.710
Time: 11.00 uur

Candidate: Zaki Almuzakki
Group: RUG – DTPA
Thesis: Practical stabilization of systems with countable set of actions. A nearest action selection approach
Promotor: Prof. Bayu Jayawardhana and Prof. Antonis Vakis
Date: 11-03-2024
Location: Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5 Groningen
Time: 9.00 uur

Candidate: G.I. (Gerben) Beintema
Group: TU/e Control Systems group
Thesis: Data–driven Learning of Nonlinear Dynamic Systems A Deep Neural State–Space Approach
Promotor: R. (Roland) Toth
Date: 21-03-2024
Location: TU/e Atlas 0.710
Time: 11.00 uur


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