The 2016 American Control Conference, July 6–8, Boston, MA, USA

Sponsoring Organizations

Special Sessions

Tuesday Sessions

Evolution of control within a mechatronics framework

Sponsored by: Quanser
Presenter: Derry Crymble, M.A.Sc., Regional Manager, USA Northeast & Midwest, Quanser; Vashee Mahalingasivam, P.Eng., MBA, Regional Manager, USA - Central, Quanser
Time: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Tuesday, July 5
Location: Salon C

Conventional undergraduate labs in control maintain a focus on controlling the dynamics of a plant. More recently, with the rise of interest in mechatronics, faculty have been expressing interest in a stronger integration between the concepts of conventional control (dynamics) and mechatronics (microprocessors). In many undergraduate mechatronics programs, the labs tend to focus on programming hobby microprocessor boards to perform basic tasks such as lights, small motors etc. Eventually students will develop sufficient skills to control small robots, typically. Largely, this is an emphasis on the programming as opposed to the dynamics of the system. But what if the physical system under consideration exhibited complex dynamics? This workshop will present a new generation of control plants and techniques that merge the techniques of traditional control with those of contemporary mechatronic control. Using new platforms for servomotor, inverted pendulum, and stationary helicopter applications, you will learn how to enhance the undergraduate experience to build students skills in the system level implementation of complex mechatronic systems that also exhibit complex dynamics. Topics include microprocessor interfacing, 3D printed modification of plant dynamics, and state machine programming.

Wednesday Sessions

NSF Programs in Dynamics, Control, Robotics, Smart-Grid, and Cyber-Physical Systems

Sponsored by: NSF
Presenter: Dr. Radhakisan Baheti, National Science Foundation; Dr. Jordan Berg, National Science Foundation
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, Wednesday, July 6
Location: Wellesley

The goal of the session is to provide an update on National Science Foundation (NSF) funding opportunities in the area of Dynamic Systems, Control and Networked Systems research and education. Research projects in power systems with renewable energy integration, power electronics, and open-access testbeds will be presented. The presentation will include NSF programs in Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), and National Robotics Initiative. The CPS program brings together researchers from computations, communications, and control disciplines to address important engineering problems. The presentation will include recent activities at NSF in Smart and Connected Communities.


Role of Controls and Systems Science in Health-Related Research

Organizers: Prof. Caterina Scoglio, Kansas State University; Dr. Fahmida N. Chowdury, National Science Foundation
Time: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, Wednesday, July 6
Location: Suffolk

This session will consist of one introduction, four presentations, and a panel discussion with audience participation. The motivation for the session is that in the recent years, the scope of controls systems science has expanded considerably in the field of health-related research. Control engineering and automation are an integral part of modern life. Automation and control are constantly used to enhance productivity and quality as well as to provide safety and, most importantly, to improve the quality of life. Closed-loop systems and algorithms can be found in home appliances, automobiles, aviation and more. As in other aspects of life, the principals of automation and control can be used in medical devices and the management of many diseases. This session will serve three purposes: (i) introduce the audience to examples of the application of control theory and related tools for health-related research, specifically for treatment and management of diabetes; (ii) present some funding opportunities in this type of multidisciplinary research, and (iii) have an open dialogue about the difficulties of collaborative research between such traditionally disparate fields.

Outline of the session:
1. Caterina Scoglio (Kansas State U.) “Short Opening Presentation to Introduce the Topic”
2. Francis J. Doyle III (Harvard U.) “Closed-Loop Artificial Pancreas Systems: Engineering the Algorithms”
3. Eyal Dassau (Harvard U.) “The Artificial Pancreas – Steps in the Design of a Medically Inspired Control Algorithm For Day-and-Night Automated Glucose Control.”
4. Lena Mamykina and David Albers (Columbia U.) “Mobile Diabetes Detective (MoDD)”
5. Fahmida Chowdhury (NSF) and Wendy Nilsen (NSF) “Funding Opportunities for Multidisciplinary Research in Health”
6. Open Q & A session with the panelists (all the presenters).


Empowering Your Potential

Sponsor: IEEE Control System Society Women in Control Committee
Organizers: Prof. Antonella Ferrara, Università di Pavia; Prof. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, Kansas State University; Prof. Linda Bushnell, University of Washington; Prof. Sandra Hirsche, Technische Universitat Munchen
Presenter: Dr. Karen Panetta, Tufts University
Time: 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm (lunch); 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (lecture), Wednesday, July 6
Location: St Botolph

Your career path should be as dynamic and unique as you are. Dr. Panetta will discuss the diversity of careers that thrive on your engineering and technology experiences and how you can put your goals into action as you plan your next quantum leap to an exciting future. Karen brings her perspectives as an industry professional, academic professor, mentor, inventor, entrepreneur, leader of international organizations and as the Founder & Editor-In-Chief of the Award winning, IEEE Women in Engineering magazine.

Since a one-size life plan does not fit all, you will learn how to tap into your own individuality to create your own future. The list of opportunities is limitless and so is your potential. This talk will inspire you to move forward and develop a career path that meets your own life goals.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Karen Panetta is a Fellow of the IEEE. Dr. Panetta received the B.S. in Computer Engineering from Boston University, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University. She served as the 2013-2014 IEEE-USA Vice-President of Communications and Public Relations. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the award winning IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine and Editor of the IEEE Boston “Reflector” Newspaper. She served as the 2011 Chair of the IEEE Boston Section, which resulted in the Boston Section receiving the 2011 IEEE Large Section Award. During 2009-2007. Karen served as the Chair for the IEEE Women in Engineering, overseeing the world’s largest professional organization supporting women in engineering and science. Karen also served as the Chair of the Boston IEEE Education Society chapter for ten years. She is currently the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Adjunct Professor in Computer Science at Tufts University. Karen has traveled around the globe to inspire youth to pursue engineering through her internationally acclaimed “Nerd Girls” Program, a program that shows how engineers and scientists are creating innovations for the benefit humanity. She is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2011, U.S. President Obama presented Karen with the NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. In 2013, she was awarded the E-Week New England Leadership award and the IEEE Award for Ethical Practices


Technical Overview and Career Opportunities at UTRC

Sponsor: United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, CT
Presenters:  Dr. Andrzej Banaszuk, Senior Director, Systems Department; Dr. Andrew Sparks, Principal Engineer, Control Systems Group Leader; Dr. Shaunak D. Bopardikar, Staff Engineer, Embedded Intelligence Group; Dr. Amit Surana, Principal Engineer, Systems Dynamics and Optimization Group
Time: Wednesday, July 6, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: Simmons

We will present a broad overview of UTRC’s Systems Department research with particular focus on the areas of autonomous and intelligent systems, data driven systems, and advanced controls. The research, conducted by a diverse team of researchers in robotics, dynamical systems, estimation, control, applied mathematics, computer vision, computer science, and human factors (in partnership with several leading universities including CMU, MIT, UPenn, and UC Berkeley) includes:

  • Real-time algorithms for dynamic collision avoidance in an obstacle-rich environment using probabilistic roadmaps.

  • Collaborative motion planning for multiple aerial and ground robots in large, cluttered, uncertain environments, trading off mission objectives while satisfying logical/spatial/temporal constraints.

  • Navigation with imperfect and intermittent sensors in GPS degraded environments.

  • Intelligent system design methodology including architectures for autonomy, human-machine systems, and formal verification.

  • Koopman operator theoretic method for data driven system and control applications.

  • System decomposition and decentralized control for control of large, complex mechanical systems.

  • Hierarchical control of building systems and integration into the smart grid through incentive-based algorithms.

  • Resilient estimation for gas turbine engines for improved performance and life extension.

  • Cyber-physical security and privacy

We will conclude with research problems of interest to UTRC and discuss existing and future career and internship opportunities in the broad area of autonomy, controls, and human-machine interactions.

Speaker Biographies:

Dr. Andrzej Banaszuk is a Director of Systems Department at the United Technologies Research Center. Before his current appointment he was a Program Leader of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems and Sikorsky Program Offices at UTRC. Since joining UTRC in 1997, he has conducted research in analysis, design, and control of dynamical systems applied to jet engines, rotorcraft, electric power networks, and buildings. Since 2000 he has led collaborative multi-university research teams in the area of flow control, control of combustion instabilities, robust design of large uncertain dynamic networks, and autonomy. He is an author of 44 journal papers, 71 conference papers, and 9 patents. From 1999 to 2002, he was an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions of Controls Systems Technology. He was appointed to serve on the Board of Governors of IEEE Control Systems Society in 2004. For his work on active and passive control of flow instabilities in jet engines he received IEEE Controls Systems Technology Award in 2007. He became an IEEE Fellow in 2011. He was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2015. He holds Ph.D. in EE from Warsaw University of Technology and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Andrew Sparks received his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his PhD in Aerospace from the University of Michigan. He spent over 26 years as a researcher and manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory and its predecessor organizations. While at AFRL, his technical interests included robust multivariable flight control and control of autonomous unmanned vehicles. Authored or co-authored one book, two book chapters, 30 journal articles, and 72 conference papers. For the last two years has been the Control Systems Group Leader in the Systems Department at UTRC.

Dr. Shaunak D. Bopardikar received his B.Tech. and M.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Dynamics and Control) from the University of California Santa Barbara. He currently contributes to the cyber-physical security initiative, to big data computation and optimization problems and in the development of autonomous motion planning and control. He has published his research in over 35 refereed and peer-reviewed journal and conference publications, has 1 patent application filed and serves as reviewer for top-quality journals such as IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automatica.

Dr. Amit Surana received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 2000, his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and M.A. in Mathematics both from Pennsylvania State University in 2002 and 2003, respectively, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007. In his current role at UTRC, he serves as a principal investigator for projects in the areas of collaborative robotics with emphasis on human machine teams, and data analytics with an interdisciplinary approach combining techniques from dynamical systems, control theory and machine learning. He has published 16 journal publications, 38 peer reviewed conference publications and has filed 4 patent applications.

Thursday Sessions

Teaching Feedback Control Systems with one Palm-size Drone for Each Student

Sponsored by: Mathworks
Presenter: Prof. Sertac Karaman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, Thursday, July 7, All participants are welcome. Boxed lunches will be available for the first 45 attendees.
Location: Simmons

The aerospace industry is going through a renaissance. Consumer drones, small satellites, rockets that can land back on earth make headlines every day. One of the core components of all these systems is the complex embedded control systems that must work under uncertainty, often with complex sensors, such as cameras and laser range finders, in the loop. How can we better teach 21st century feedback control systems to aerospace students and beyond, with the help of 21st century technology?

For the most recent offering of the feedback control systems course at MIT, we gave each student one Parrot Rolling Spider mini drone. The students were able to program their drones using MATLAB/Simulink with the help of our new toolbox. On the one hand, we used online tools, such as video lectures and forums, to enable the students to do the labs at home, without any direct supervision from the instructors. On the other hand, the students did their projects with the instructors in the form of a hackathon. Thanks to the new pedagogy, we observed a tremendous increase in enrollment and the quality of student projects. This new pedagogy is in contrast to the classical engineering education where the lab exercises are executed in laboratories with instructors, and projects are done at home. Thanks to the 21st-century tools, such as mini drones with cameras, online forums and accessible video lectures, we were able to flip this pedagogy for better outcomes.


Career in Energy – Round Table Discussion between Students and Experts in Energy-Related Fields

Sponsored by: ASME DSCD Energy Systems Technical Committee
Organizers: Ms. Xin Zhou, University of Michigan; Mr. Matthew Williams, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Mr. Herschel Pangborn, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Presenters: 8 experts in energy-related fields from academia, industry, and government -- Scott Moura, Assistant Professor, University of California – Berkeley; Neera Jain, Assistant Professor, Purdue University; Hosam Fathy, Associate Professor, Penn State University; Brandon Hencey, Control System Engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory; Kathryn Johnson, Associate Professor/Joint Appointee Senior Engineer, Colorado School of Mines/National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Jakob Stoustrup, Professor/Chief Scientist, Aalborg University/Pacific Northwest National Lab; Payam Naghshtabrizi, Research Engineer and Instructor, Eaton Corporation – Innovation Center; Daniel Burns, Principal Research Scientist, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, Thursday, July 7
Location: Wellesley

Brought to you by ASME DSCD Energy Systems Technical Committee, this round-table-discussion event is designed for students and early-career engineers in a variety of energy-related fields, including but not limited to renewable energy, electrochemical/electromechanical energy, combustion energy, power systems, and building efficiency. Energy experts from well-respected universities, companies, and national labs will participate and provide invaluable advice and suggestions to students as they embark on their careers.


Model Based Development of Mechatronic Products with solidThinking Compose, Activate and Embed

Sponsored by: solidThinking, Inc.
Presenter: Keshav Sundaresh, Global Director of Business Development – Math & Systems, solidThinking, Inc.
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, Thursday, July 7
Location: Suffolk

Learn how Altair’s next generation math and system design products can be applied right from concept studies, control design, multi-domain system performance optimization to controller implementation & testing.

Attend this interactive session to explore more about:

  • How to automatically generate code from your systems model, compile & link code and download it to the target device for real-time, hardware-in-the-loop simulation

  • Leveraging & incorporating open standards such as Modelica and Functional Mock-up Interface for model exchange and co-simulation

  • Applying modern, block-diagram environment to rapidly model, simulate and optimize multi-disciplinary systems

  • How to perform complex numerical computations using an integrated development environment for math


Friday Sessions

Middle and High School Students and Teachers Workshop

The Power, Beauty and Excitement of the Cross-Boundaries Nature of Control, a Field that Spans Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)

Co-Organizers: Bozenna Pasik-Duncan (University of Kansas) and Linda Bushnell (University of Washington) and Sebastian Dormido, UNED, Madrid, Spain.
Co-Chairs: Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, University of Kansas and Linda Bushnell (University of Washington) and Sebastian Dormido, UNED, Madrid, Spain.
Sponsors: American Automatic Control Council (AACC) Technical Committee on Education and IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Technical Committee on Control Education and IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE)
Time: 9:30 am – 2:30 pm, Friday, July 8
Location: Vermont

This outreach event is designed to increase the general awareness of the importance of systems and control technology and its cross-disciplinary nature among high school students and teachers. Control is used in many common devices and systems: cell phones, computer hard drives, automobiles, and aircraft, but is usually hidden from view. The control field spans science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The success of all STEM disciplines depends on attracting the most gifted young people to science and engineering professions. Early exposure to middle and high school students and their teachers is a key factor. The goal of these outreach efforts is to promote an increased awareness of the importance and cross-disciplinary nature of control and systems technology.

The workshop activities include presentations by control systems experts from our technical community, informal discussions, and the opportunity for teachers and students to meet passionate researchers and educators from academia and industry. The talks are designed to be educational, inspirational and entertaining showing the excitement of controls.

Lunch will be provided. Participants will receive certificates of participation.
The program and workshop details can be found at:

The program and photos of the past workshops info can be found at:

For more information about Special Sessions, please contact the Vice Chair for Special Sessions, Kristi Morgansen.

Conference Submission Site

Conference Registration Site
Hotel Reservation Site

Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

Contacts for Sponsors:

Aranya Chakrabortty
[email protected]
(Vice Chair for Industry & Applications)

Mike Borrello
[email protected] 
(Exhibits Chair)

Danny Abramovitch
[email protected]
(General Chair)


Tentative Key Dates

Draft Manuscripts:
due September 30, 2015

Best Student Paper Nominations:
due October 5, 2015

Workshop Proposals:
due October 16, 2015

Applications Tutorials:
due November 23, 2015

Acceptance/Rejection Notice:
by January 31, 2016

Final Manuscript Submission:
due March 22, 2016

Applications Friday
Poster Submission:
due June 15, 2016