Recently, an international research assessment committee finished its evaluation report on the research of the Mechanical Engineering Department of Eindhoven University of Technology. Overall, the committee was impressed by the level of the Department. The full report can be downloaded here, and the self-evaluation report of ME can be found here.
For our CST group the assessment is one to be proud of: again we were graded as being excellent on all aspects!
Below is the evaluation of the committee. The self-evaluation can be found here.
Programme: Control Systems Technology
Programme leader: Prof. M. Steinbuch
Research staff 2012: 32.0 fte
Assessments:Quality: 5 Productivity: 5 Relevance: 5 Viability: 5
The mission of the Control Systems Technology programme is to develop new methods and tools in the areas of Systems Theory, Control Engineering and Mechatronics and to apply them in a wide variety of areas, most of which have industrial relevance. The research focuses on understanding the fundamental system properties that determine the performance of mechanical engineering systems and exploiting this knowledge to design the high-tech systems of the future. In particular, the research programme concentrates on performance- driven control and systems design, and develops robust and data-driven control theory, hybrid and networked systems theory, optimisation techniques and mechanical design principles aimed at high-performance motion systems, robotics, vehicle powertrains and the control of plasma fusion as application areas. The programme contributes to all three strategic areas of the department (research, education and industry) and leads the Smart Mobility area (connected cars and clean vehicles).
The programme is led by two full professors who decided to join forces and bring together two formerly independent programmes. This joining of forces has led to a further strengthening of already strong programmes and has to be complimented as being very successful. Both professors have an excellent international reputation and do complement each other very well. In addition, there is a strong cooperation between this programme and the Dynamics and Control programme (for example, joint labs).
Even when applying the highest international standards as a measure, the quality of the programme is excellent. The senior researchers have outstanding international reputations with a good international embedding and are considered leaders in the field. This is shown, for example, by the number of awards bestowed (including a VICI grant and two VENI grants), the number of invitations for plenary talks at major conferences, and the invitations to serve in leading editorial roles for major journals, to list just a few. The programme is able to acquire a very impressive quantity of external research funds that amounts to about 20% of the funding of the whole Mechanical Engineering department. The industrial funding is very high, especially when considering that parts of this funding do go into fundamental research. This shows the high quality perception and industrial relevance of the research being carried out. The number of competitive public grants has increased significantly (in part due to the VENI and VICI grants), and the relationship between public and industry funding must be seen as very healthy by now. The number and impact of the programme’s publications (and patents) are substantial.
The composition of the research areas is excellent, comprising both theoretical developments and application work. The different research areas do complement each other well and are still convincingly related to each other. The number of PhD students is very high, and the success rate for completing a PhD is excellent. The number of ME students choosing this direction (35% of the total) is even more impressive, but may lead in the long run to an undesirable imbalance between programmes. The programme leaders should think about ways to make the other programmes more attractive for students or to discuss a different allocation of ME staff to account for higher educational burdens.
As discussed above, the research funding level has been growing to a very high level and is well balanced. The academic output, visibility and impact are outstanding. It will be very difficult in the future to increase this level further and possibly even to maintain it.
The research topics of this programme are up to date and relevant for basic research and for industry and society. The field of model-based control, identification and design of motion systems is especially well aligned with the needs of the regional industry. Other fields, and in particular robotics for care and cure, are future oriented and geared towards the needs of society. Hybrid and networked systems and the field of control of fusion plasmas are directed more towards fundamental research and have to be considered as very timely. The respective relevance of these fields can be seen from the strong industry funding and the successful spin-off companies that were initiated by the programme.
The forward-oriented research agendas, together with the very impressive labs, the obvious attractiveness of the programme for the best students, and the solid and diverse funding base form an excellent basis for the sustained development of this programme. The Department is encouraged to think about further ways to support the outstanding developments in this programme.
The Control Systems Technology Programme is characterized by an exceptional quality, productivity and relevance. Both fundamental research and applied research of industrial relevance are carried out on an international level. The researchers have an excellent international reputation. The combination of these points puts it in a leadership position worldwide.