Newsletter November 2021

Message from the DISC Office


Dear all,

Welcome to the November newsletter. First of all I want to inform you about a change of staff.

Martha Otte has accepted a new job at the TU Delft. I want to thank Martha most heartily for her great work for DISC over the past 6,5 years and wish her a lot of success with her new challenge at DCSC.

Martha started in January 2015 at the DISC secretariat at the same time as I started as scientific director. It has been a great journey to work with Martha, particularly in the past covid-19 years when almost all interactions were online and in which period Martha also did a tremendous job in supporting the European Control Conference 2021 organisation for which I was the General Chair. I want to thank Martha also on behalf of DISC for all you have done!!

As Martha’s successor Renate Kragtwijk has started as Office Manager DISC per November 1, 2021. The enclosed photo shows Martha (l) and Renate (r) at the transition of job a few weeks ago. Renate Kragtwijk started per the 1st of November as Officemanager DISC. She will introduce herself hereafter in this Newsletter. Welcome to the team Renate!

With best regards,

Henk Nijmeijer,
scientific director


Hello everyone,  my name is Renate Kragtwijk. I started per the 1st of November as office manager DISC (Dutch Institute of Systems and Control).

I am located in the department of DCSC.  I have previously worked in different positions in profit organisations and industries such as Philips (France) and at the Headquarter in Amsterdam), in the Aluminium Extrusion industry, the Pharmaceuticals industry and recently in an Accountancy firm.

At the moment I am working on the days that Martha is working (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday), but after I while my working days will be : Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I want to thank Martha and my colleagues for the warm welcome they have given me and I look forward to work with you all!


Course program 2021-2022

The DISC course program 2021-2022 is ready. You can find it here. Registration is open on the DISC course platform.

We will start in January 2022 and the courses will take place in Utrecht, at Cursus- en vergadercentrum Domstad.

We are offering the following courses:

Mathematical Models of Systems
Nonlinear Control Systems
Modeling and Control of Flexible and Soft Robots
Modelling and Control of Hybrid Systems
Design Methods for Control System

DISC Fall course on Numerics and Control, November 23-25 2021

The course on Numerics and Control will deal with distributed parameter systems with boundary control and observation, described as port-Hamiltonian systems (pHs). The pHs representation emphasizes the power flows between subsystems and over the system boundary, and is therefore particularly favourable for multi-physics modelling and for energy-based control designs.


Ghislain Haine is Associate professor and Denis Matignon is full professor, both at the Institut Superieur de_l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE), France. Paul Kotyczka is a professor at the Technical University of München, Germany

The course took place from 23-25 November at BCN in Eindhoven. The lecturers were unfortunately not able to fly in due to covid measures, so it became a hybrid meeting. 12 participants followed the course from BCN and 12 via Zoom.





IFAC Fellows and Major Awards Call

Nomination calls and materials for the 2020-2023 IFAC Fellows and IFAC Major Awards (Nichols Medal, Thoma Medal, Quazza Medal, Industrial Achievement Award and High Impact Paper Award) are now available! Nominations and references must be submitted via the PaperCept submission system.

The IFAC Fellow award provides a distinction of excellence in the Federation and is conferred on a triennial basis to a small number of outstanding scientists or engineers. Members of the IFAC Council, Fellow Search Committee or Fellow Selection Committee are not eligible to serve as nominators or references.
IFAC Fellow nominations are due by February 1, 2022. IFAC Fellow references are due by March 1, 2022. Please contact the scientific director in case you are interested in the potential nomination of a (DISC-) colleague.

New people

Groningen University

Name: Qi Zhao
Starting date: 01-09-2021
Function: Visiting PhD
Group: DTPA
Supervisor: Ming Cao

Project: Distributed cooperation and competition of multi-agent systems

I’m Qi Zhao, a student of Xidian University. My research mainly focuses on the distributed cooperation and competition problem for multi-agent systems. My past research work has included the consensus of hybrid multi-agent systems and the winner-take-all competition problem with heterogeneous dynamic agents.

Name: Saeed Ahmed
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: Post-doctoral Researcher
Group: Discrete Technology & Production Automation
Supervisor: Prof. J.M.A Scherpen

Project: Technologically and socially feasible transition pathways for local energy system integration (TeSoPs)

Saeed Ahmed is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Discrete Technology & Production Automation research group at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany. He completed his PhD research at Bilkent University, Turkey and Inria Saclay, Laboratory of Signals and Systems, CentraleSupelec, Gif-sur-Yvette, France under the PHC Bosphore France-Turkey research project. His research interests include stability analysis, state estimation and control of (nonlinear, switched,impulsive, and LPV) systems. He was awarded the best research presentation award in the category of Control/Robotics/Communications/Network in the Bilkent University EEE Graduate Research Conference, 2018. He has taught several courses related to systems and control theory at Bilkent University, COMSATS University and TU Kaiserslautern.


Name: Hailong Chen
Starting date:01-11-2021
Function: PhD
Group: SMS Group
Supervisor: Claudio De Persis

Project: Data-driven control of systems with complex dynamics

Hailong Chen received B.S. degree in automation and the M.S. degree in control
science and engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), Harbin, China. Now
He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree in University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands. His current research interests include data-driven control, optimal theory.


Name: Yifan Liu
Start date: 01-11-2021
Function: PhD student
(1) Optimization and Decision Systems
(2) Discrete Technology and Production Automation
Supervisor: prof. M. Cao and dr. A.K. Cherukuri
Project: Distributed Data-driven Safe Stochastic Model Predictive Control


Name: Muhammed Bahadir Saltik
Function: Post-doctoral researcher
Starting date: 01-11-2021
Group: Discrete Technology and Production Automation (DTPA)
Supervisor: B. Jayawardhana
Project: The Heat is On

Hello! My name is Bahadir Saltik and I am from Turkey. I am joining the DTPA group at Groningen for The Heat is On project as a postdoc starting from November 2021.

I received my MSc degree from TU-Eindhoven, focusing on predictive controllers with event triggered measurements, and worked on my PhD within Control Systems group at TUE, researching ways to integrate physics based models into online operation, with critical interest on robust MPC approaches. For a very short while I continued in the same group as a postdoc applying batch to batch learning to MPC. Later I joined a start-up providing services using machine learning technologies, working on wind energy systems and online mobile gaming. Now, I am eager to use, and conduct research on, what control oriented optimization theory and developments in ML offer to improve the operation in process industries.

I am a nature lover with social skills, enjoying long walks and talks with my wife and friends on essentially any topic. Starting from Spring 2020, I learned that I also enjoy tabletop games. I am excited to be joining the Heat is On project and in general being a part of the control community in the Netherlands.

Delft University of Technology

Name: Italo Belli
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: PhD
Group: 3ME CoR


I am Italo, and I have just started my PhD at the Cognitive Robotics department, under the supervision of prof Luka Peternel, prof Ajay Seth and doc Micah Prendergast. I will be working on rehabilitation robotics, focusing in particular on the shoulder joints and the best ways in which a robotic system could help a patient recovering shoulder mobility.

I graduated in Control Engineering at the end of 2020 from Politecnico di Milano (Italy), and then I worked for a bit more than 6 months as a research fellow in Genova, a city by the sea in northern Italy. Hence, I know that probably I will not find so much sun in Delft as I was used to, but I am really thrilled to be starting this new adventure and I cannot wait to meet you all!    To mention something about myself, I really like sports – especially volleyball and beach volley: so please count me in if you ever organize some sport activities!


Name: Marko Cvetkovic
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: post-doctoral researcher
Group: 3ME CoR


My name is Marko Cvetkovic, and I am a new post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. I have defended my doctoral thesis with a topic: “Influence of long-time driving on lower limbs musculoskeletal symptoms and physical control” at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto, Portugal. The study’s main goal was to investigate whether prolonged driving might trigger perceived driving discomfort and influenced post-steering gait patterns. To do so, I have been analyzing subjectively and objectively developed driving discomfort and modification of preferred driving postures over the driving time. Moreover, data acquired on linear gait kinematics and applied plantar pressures were analyzed and compared between pre- and post-steering gait patterns.

At the TU Delft, I will be working on a project named “Biomechanical Modelling Seat Interaction in Automated Driving” supervised by professor Riender Happee. My responsibilities will be data collection on motion comfort, with a special goal of stabilizing the trunk and neck system. I am eager to work with my new team, gain new knowledge, and work together to face new challenges.

Besides my professional career, I would like to share some details about my hobbies. In my spare time, I like to do landscape photography, aquaristics, and travel.


Name: Raj Desai
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Group: 3ME CoR



I, Raj Desai received my PhD from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay India. The PhD research work focused on development of biomechanical human body models, non-linear cushion contact force model, integration with vehicle models, seat suspension system and ride comfort. I have also been a recipient of the best thesis award during my Masters and institute Excellence in PhD research award.  My current research focuses on 3D human body motion, muscular activity, seat pressure, and perceived comfort. My supervisor is Riender Happee.


Name: Varun Kotian
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: PhD
Group: 3ME CoR


I am Varun and I will be starting my PhD, on motion & comfort perception in automated driving and driving simulators, under Dr. ir. Riender Happee. With the aim of contributing to the innovations that improve the experience of people in transit, I want to conduct research and apply the knowledge that I have gained so far.

In my free time, I like capturing moments with my vintage polaroid camera, playing the piano and enjoying a game of chess.


Name: Ravi Prakash
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: Postdoc
Group: 3ME CoR


I received my Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, India. My Ph.D. thesis was titled ” Intelligent Control for Complex Manipulation Tasks Using Skill Transfer “, where I worked on developing a skill learning and control framework  for complex robotic tasks. The proposed approach empowers an end-user to teach the task to the robot via several demonstrations and the generalization of the learnt task for novel situations.

I would be pursuing my PostDoc with Prof. Jens Kober at Cognitive Robotics department (CoR), Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). During this period, I would be working on robot learning which will no longer rely on initial demonstrations only, but it will effectively use additional user feedback to continuously optimize the task performance. The potential of the newly developed teaching framework will be demonstrated with challenging bi-manual tasks and a final study evaluating how well novice human operators can teach novel tasks to a robot.

When I am not with the robots, I like to travel and meet people across variegated cultural and social backgrounds. I love cooking new dishes and play badminton.

Name: Sagar Joshi
Starting date: 15-11-2021
Function: Postdoc
Group: 3ME CoR


Dr. Sagar Joshi completed his bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Sardar Patel College of Engineering, India, his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India, and his PhD in Robotics and Intelligent Systems from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland. His doctoral thesis was on “Design and dynamic analysis of soft pneumatic systems for wearable robots”.

At the TU Delft, he will work under Prof. Cosimo Della Santina from CoR and Prof. Ajay Seth from the Biomechatronics & Human-Machine Control. His postdoctoral research here is on Soft robotics, data-driven automatic design, and biomechanics, wherein he will develop soft exosuits for assisting the user in repetitive tasks.

His main hobby is music, and he is professionally trained in vocal music and an instrument known as sitar. His other interests include photography, travelling. reading, and watching documentaries.

Name: Shengling Shi
Starting date: 01-10-2021
Function: Postdoc
Group: 3ME DCSC


Shengling Shi received the B.Sc. degree in automotive engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology, China, and the M.Sc. degree with distinction (great appreciation) in automotive technology from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the Netherlands, in 2017. He received the Ph.D. degree from TU/e in September 2021, and the title of his Ph.D. thesis is “Topological Aspects of Linear Dynamic Networks: Identifiability and Identification”, which was advised by Prof. Paul M.J. Van den Hof. His research interests include system identification, model predictive control, and their applications.

Name: Filippo Airaldi
Starting date: 01-11-2021
Function: PhD
Group: 3ME DCSC


“I am Filippo Airaldi, a mechatronic engineer from Italy. I studied both my Bachelor’s and Master’s there, with a small Erasmus experience in Finland. After that, I had some work experience in the automation field, in car racing, as well as in a wearable robotics research lab.

Now, I’m about to start my PhD at DCSC! Together with my supervisor dr. Azita Dabiri, the PhD will investigate how to merge model predictive control and reinforcement learning to develop safe adaptive control strategies, which can learn from data and adapt while concurrently satisfying constraints. The formal title is “Safe Learning-based Model Predictive Control”.

Wageningen University and Research Centre

Name: Milan de Korte
Starting Date: 01-10-2021
Function:PhD student
Group: Mathematical and Statistical Methods – Biometris
Supervisor/Promotor: K.J.Keesman
Project: Bluecycling: Resource efficient food production

Hello, my name is Milan de Korte. I did my BSc Biology at the University of Amsterdam and MSc Biotechnology – Process Technology at Wageningen University (WUR). During my master thesis at Environmental technology (ETE) WUR, I modelled the effect of polysulfide formation on sulfur particles.

In October 2021 I started a PhD at Mathematics and Statistics (MAT) WUR, where I’ll be working on the project, “Bluecycling: Resource-efficient food production”. During this project, I’ll be modelling an aquaponics system and optimizing its resource efficiency. I’ll also look at how an aquaponics system could fit in an eco-industrial park (EIP). In this EIP several nodes (for instance, other types of food production systems) can be added to increase circularity by using waste from the nodes as feed for the aquaponics system and vice versa. The number of nodes and scale of our system will also be of interest in terms of economics.

Name:Diyono Harun
Starting Date: 01-11-2021
Function:PhD student
Group: Biometris Group
Supervisors/Promotores: K.J. Keesman/       H. Cappon / K. Kujawa
Project: Potential Sustainable Energy Mixes for Urban Uses in Java and Bali Island Indonesia

Hi, Everyone! My name is Diyono Harun. I did my bachelor in Physics at Syarif Hidayatullah University of Jakarta, Indonesia, and had my MSc Environmental Science at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). I am interested in the development of renewable energy system, thus my projects in my bachelor and master were related to this topic. I did my master thesis with the title “Potential Sustainable Energy Mixes in The Netherlands” and other several projects related to renewable energy systems during my courses.

I started my PhD at Biometris WUR on 1 November 2021 to investigate, design, and model potential sustainable energy mixes for urban uses in Java and Bali Island, Indonesia. Using data mining and modelling, this research will develop energy mixes that can generate energy to be used for urban uses such as electricity, cooking and transport. This can be potentially a valuable research for my country since this country is still struggling to improve the renewable energy production. Indonesia is an archipelago country in tropical area which has abundant renewable energy resources, yet this country still relies on non-renewable sources. I hope to have many collaborations during my PhD, therefore I can learn a lot during this PhD period.

PhD defences

Groningen University

Candidate: Nelson Chan
Group: Division Discrete Technology and Production Automation
Thesis: Securing and maneuvering heterogeneous mobile robot formations. Distributed control design and stability analysis
Promotores: prof. B. Jayawardhana / prof. J.M.A. Scherpen
Date: 09-07-2021

Candidate: Weijia Yao
Group: Division Discrete Technology and Production Automation
Thesis: Guiding vector fields for robot motion control. Theory and applications
Promotores: prof. M. Cao and prof. J.M.A. Scherpen
Date: 08-10-2021

Candidate: Oscar Portoles Marin
Group: Division Discrete Technology and Production Automation
Thesis: Cortical synchrony across cognitive processing stages. Dynamics & coordinating mechanisms
Promotores: prof. M. Cao, dr. M.K. van Vugt, dr. J.P Borst
Date: 15-10-2021


Eindhoven University of Technology

Candidate: Zuan Khalik Msc
Group: Control Systems
Thesis: Modeling and Optimal Control for Aging-Aware Charging of batteries
Promotores: H.J. Bergveld / dr. ir. M.C.F. Donkers
Date: 09-11-2021

Candidate: Daming Lou
Group: Control Systems
Thesis: Parameterized Model Order Reduction with Applications to Thermal Systems
Promotores: prof.dr. S. Weiland / dr. L. Özkan
Date: 24-11-2021



Winterschool & Symposium on Soft Robotics in Healthcare 

4TU Dutch Soft Robotics Consortium proudly presents:

When: From 31 Jan 2022 to 11 Feb 2022, with the symposium on the 10th and 11th of February.

Where: Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Around the world, the population is ageing. In order to cope with the growing demand on our healthcare professionals and make our healthcare system sustainable in the near future, we need safer and more efficient medical instruments, nurses, and caretakers.

Although current medical instruments and robots are already quite advanced, they often lack the compliance and safety to reach deep inside the body or safely work with patients. Soft robotics could be the solution to this problem. It explores how robots can be built from soft materials to make them inherently safe and adaptive. This makes them extremely suitable to work in unstructured human-inhabited environments and to interact with tissues during surgery.

A challenging aspect of developing soft robots is that it requires the integration of knowledge from many different disciplines, including material science, engineering science, computer science, biology, zoology, health sciences, and business innovation. This is where the winterschool comes in. We will bring together expertise from all these disciplines and discuss how to apply the knowledge from these different fields in the design of soft robots. This approach will challenge you to think critically, combine knowledge from the different fields, and gain a deeper understanding of health systems. Next to the theoretical knowledge you will obtain during this winterschool, we will organise practical workshops on 3D-printing, casting and origami, company lectures, and tours of our research facilities.  You will also be challenged to build your own soft robot and compete with it against other teams for a prize. Of course, there will be plenty of time for socialising in the evening. In 2 weeks’ time, you will get acquainted with these disciplines and build an interdisciplinary network of peers that will be the driving force behind future healthcare innovation.

For the symposium, several leading experts in the field of soft robotics will be flown in for special keynote lectures and you will get a chance to have a discussion with them. You can also get a chance to discuss your own research if you submit an abstract for the symposium.

If you are as excited as we are about this topic, sign up for the winterschool before the 1st of December 2021. Only a limited number of spots are available for the winterschool, so do not hesitate to register.

More information about this winterschool & symposium and how to register can be found at:

We hope to see you there,

Aimée Sakes, Assistant professor, TUDelft, the Netherlands
Rob Scharff, Post Doc, IIT, Italy

Vacancy Assistant Professor available at TU Delft at 3Me

TU Delft has a vacancy for an Assistant Professor Predicting Motion Comfort in Automated Driving.

Selection will start after November 30,  but the vacancy remains open for applications until December 15.

The full text is available here.


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

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