Prof. Jacquelien Scherpen, Director of the Groningen Engineering Center, at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (UG), has been voted Engineer of the Year 2023 by the expert jury. She received the Prince Friso Engineering Award 2023 in the presence of Princess Beatrix. Scherpen was one of three finalists for the award, all of whom were women this year. The announcement and award ceremony hosted by the Royal Institute of Engineers (KIVI) took place 15 March 2023 at Boskalis in Papendrecht.
“It is a wonderful recognition, also of our efforts in Groningen to put engineering on the map,” Scherpen said. “As an engineer you stand at the basis of societal challenges and you tackle those as a team with other disciplines. That is what is special about the UG; we are a broad-based university where you can, for a long time now, also study engineering. I hope this will win over prospective students and in particular, provide extra motivation for women to study engineering and pursue a career in engineering!”
The jury commended Prof. Jacquelien Scherpen for her versatility which she couples with substantive depth. At the University of Groningen, Scherpen is a driving force in strengthening and broadening the research and teaching in the field of engineering. She works closely with businesses and also develops new programmes. The jury: ‘At the same time, she is also committed to the visibility of engineering in general, among other things by inspiring enthusiasm in young people for the engineering profession as well as overcoming gender stereotypes in female engineers. All in all, this makes her a role model for new generations of engineers.’
This was the ninth edition of the Prince Friso Engineering Award, which KIVI awards annually. Engineers who stand out in expertise, innovative capacity, entrepreneurship and social impact are eligible for the award, which is named after Prince Friso, who was an aerospace Engineer and member of KIVI. The winner of the award may call themselves Engineer of the Year. It has never happened before that the finalists only included women. In addition, an audience award, and the KIVI Engineering Student Team Award were also awarded.
The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Vici grant to Prof. Ming Cao, worth up to €1.5 million. With this money Prof. Cao can develop an innovative line of research in the field of the decision making process of autonomous robots. He will be able to set up his own research group for a period of five years.
The awarded project concerns the decision making process of autonomous robots. With autonomous machines becoming ubiquitous in industry and daily life, we should be able to control the way these systems make decisions. This project draws inspiration from social animals (biology), competitive human behaviors (marketing), and collective opinion formation (sociology). Employing a multi-disciplinary approach, we will improve decision-making processes of autonomous robots working in teams, especially when they are frequently influenced by stochastic perturbations. The project will improve the control of autonomous robots, broaden the application of robot teams, and benefit smart factories and digital societies in the long run.
Starting in 2023 the University of Groningen will be offering a new master programme “Systems and Control”. With a focus on complex systems and networks it will complement the already existing Dutch Systems and Control master programmes in Delft, Eindhoven and Twente.
The two main goals of the new master is to provide excellent master students to the job market in the Netherlands and to attract more excellent international students. The programme coordinator will be Prof. Dr. Stephan Trenn who can be contacted for further information.
The Faculty Board of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) has decided to create the position of FSE Director of Engineering. As from July 1, 2022, Prof. Jacquelien Scherpen will be the first to hold this position. The main responsibilities of the FSE Director of Engineering will be to strengthen research collaboration in the area of engineering in the full width of the faculty, to set up new collaborations between FSE and the engineering industry, and to represent FSE in regional and national initiatives and discussions on engineering. Many of these activities are conducted through the Groningen Engineering Center, which is led by the FSE Director of Engineering.
The Board of the University has appointed Ming Cao as Director of the Jantina Tammes School, the interdisciplinary platform that focuses on digital innovation, artificial intelligence, and technological progress. The School represents an important new instrument for interacting with, and contributing to, society. It will provide a place where the various academic disciplines can meet and join forces to conduct research projects, teach, and generally smooth the way for dialogue with and about society. Ming Cao, Professor of Networks and Robotics, is looking forward to stimulating interdisciplinary collaboration. ‘The Jantina Tammes School brings together all of the interested parties in the up-and-coming digital society, allowing them to get the maximum benefits from and make the maximum contribution to digitization, digital technology, and artificial intelligence. We are preparing our students, staff, and partners for a promising, but challenging, future.’
Dr. Henk van Waarde has joined the SCO group as Assistant Professor for Data-driven control in January 2022. Henk received his PhD degree (cum laude) in Systems and Control from the University of Groningen in 2020 and was awarded with the 2020 DISC Best PhD Thesis. During his PhD he was a visiting researcher at University of Washington, Seattle, in the lab of Mehran Mesbahi. After that he was a postdoctoral researcher, first at Cambridge University under supervision of Rodolphe Sepulchre, and later at ETH Zürich where he worked with Florian Dörfler. His research interests are in data-driven modeling and control as well as applications to networked systems and neuronal dynamics.
Henk van Waarde, Claudio De Persis, Kanat Camlibel and Pietro Tesi have received the 2021 IEEE Control Systems Letters Outstanding Paper Award for their paper “Willems’ Fundamental Lemma for State-space Systems and its Extension to Multiple Datasets”, published in the IEEE Control Systems letters. The annual award recognizes an outstanding paper published in the letters in the preceding two calendar years. The selection criteria are originality, potential impact on the theoretical foundations of control, importance and practical significance in applications, and clarity.
Prof. Ming Cao has been elevated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to the grade of IEEE Fellow for his contributions to multi-agent control systems for sensor, robotic and social networks.
Becoming an IEEE Fellow is IEEE’s highest honor. Yearly, a select group of IEEE members is recognized as IEEE fellow. The institute awards the honour to less than 0.1 percent of its members. The Fellow title is recognized by the international engineering community as a prestigious honour and achievement. The grade of Fellow is being awarded since 1912.
The total number of IEEE Fellows in the Jan C. Willems center now stands at six: Jan C. Willems† (awarded 1980), Ruth Curtain† (awarded 1991), Arjan van der Schaft (awarded 2002), Harry Trentelman (awarded 2015), Jaqcuelien Scherpen (awarded 2021) and Ming Cao (2022).
Prof. Ming Cao, his postdocs, Mengbin Ye and Lorenzo Zino, and their collaborators in the marketing department of the Faculty of Economics and Business, have just published a paper in Nature Communications on how a committed minority may change social conventions. Both agent-based modeling and human behavioral experiments have been implemented to disclose the mechanism of the sudden establishment of new social norms. The university website’s front page has prominently featured this work and other news sources, e.g. phys.org and Science Daily, have also reported about it.
In view of the current research activities within the group Systems, Control and Applied Analysis (SCAA) and the joining of Prof. Juan Peypouquet as full professor in optimization, the group requested a name change to “Systems, Control and Optimization (SCO)” which was now granted by the FSE Faculty Board.