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PhD Student - Fractionary systems in mechanical and fuel cell systems (MARÍA DE MAEZTU)

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Federico Thomas




The "Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial (IRI), CSIC-UPC" is seeking a PhD student to work under the framework of the María de Maeztu (MdM) Unit of Excellence Seal.

IRI is a Joint University Research Institute participated by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) that conducts research in human-centered robotics and automatic control. The institute, is a key player in the Spanish robotics and automatic control scenes, and a valued participant in a large number of international collaborations including more than ten ongoing H2020 projects and an ERC Advanced Grant. Recently, is has been recognized as a Maria de Maeztu Excellence Unit, the main accreditation given by the Spanish Government to research units that stand out for the impact and international relevance of their results.

A four-year PhD position under the MdM Strategic Research Programme will be fully covered starting in the first trimester of 2018.
The PhD thesis will be supervised by Dr. Federico Thomas and Dr. Ramon Costa.

The thesis project will consist in the development of fractionary based modeling and control methods to be applied in two frameworks: (1) fuell-cell systems and (2) flexible and deformable mechanical systems.

The behavior of many systems can be described through lumped parameters models described by ordinary differential equations, on the contrary exists many complex system that cannot be properly described by these type of equations, most of them corresponds to diffusion processes, heat transmission, biological systems, electrochemical processes and flexible structures between others. Most of these systems are distributed parameters systems, and consequently are better described by partial differential equations (PDE). Unfortunately, PDEs are difficult to solve and it is very difficult to formally design controllers based on them.

In the last decades, fractionary calculus has appeared as a tool to deal with these systems in an efficient manner. It has been as great effort to describe different types of systems based on this formalism. Linear fractionary calculus can be developed both in the time domain and the transformed domain, in both domains they offer tools similar to those existing for regular calculus but allowing to reproduce a wider range of behaviors.

In recent times, fractional mathematical and computational tools haven been developed so that fractional calculus can be used to model and control many different applications. Currently there’s a bunch of new frameworks were these tools are being used. In this thesis fractionary based modeling and control methods will be developed having in mind to main applications frameworks:
- Fuel Cell Systems: Fuel Cells are electrochemical which produce electrical and thermal energy in a clean manner from hydrogen. Usually, fuel cells are used as part of hybrid systems composed by composers, humidifiers, power converters and energy storage elements between others. Most of these devices have a complex behavior that must be taken into account to take profit from them. During the thesis models and controllers based on fractionary calculus will be developed. Control systems will mainly focus on efficiency and improving the lifetime of all components.
- Flexible and deformable mechanical systems: Most robotic devices are described as the composition of rigid elements. This description is usually appropriate when there’s no interaction with the environment and human beings. When this interaction appears flexible behavior and deformable components begin to be relevant. During the thesis, these phenomena will be modeled using fractionary calculus and control controllers will be designed based on these models (i.e. the extension of impedance control to the fractional framework will be considered).


Qualifications: The candidate is expected to have a master in control engineering, robotics, industrial engineering or a related field
Knowledge: Good background in control and robotics. The applicants should have skills in programming preferably in Matlab/Simulink, C++ and ROS.
Languages: Fluent in English.
Other: Must fulfill the requirements to enroll in the Doctoral programme in Automatic Control, Robotics and Computer Vision.


Please, send your documentation before 20/11/2017 to:

Email: jobs (at)
Address: Parc Tecnològic de Barcelona. C/ Llorens i Artigas 4-6, 2a planta. 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
Fax: 93 401 57 50
Note: Please, remember to reference the offer (ID-50) and include the following documentation: CV and academic transcripts