Graduate and postdoctoral researchers across the southeast region recently convened in Blacksburg to meet, share ideas and present their research results in dynamical systems and control theory, as well as controls-related disciplines at the 2021 Southeast Control Conference.

Eighty researchers from a dozen top universities gathered in late November on the campus of Virginia Tech, to interact, learn about each other’s work and exchange ideas. Through twenty-minute talks and a poster presentation session, student researchers presented topics ranging from modeling and control of complex dynamical systems, to safety assurance for autonomous robots, to effective human interfaces for the control of cyber-physical systems.

Professor Carolyn Beck of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign served as the guest speaker, presenting “Modeling and Stability Analysis of Epidemic Processes over Networks.”

Andrea L’Afflitto, assistant professor in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, served as chair for the organization committee. “The quality of the presentations was exceptional,” said L’Afflitto. “This was a regional conference, but the research that was presented here is world-class.”

L’Afflitto’s efforts were supported by Craig Woolsey, professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech, as well as a number of faculty from Georgia Tech, the University of Florida, and North Carolina A&T State University.

The first Southeast Control Conference was hosted by Georgia Tech in November 2019.

After a one-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 conference was the second in what the organization committee hopes will become an annual event. Planning is already underway for the 2022 event, which will be hosted by the University of Florida.

“A number of participants shared their joy with me about being able to come and have this experience,” said L’Afflitto. “As an educator and a mentor, it was so fulfilling to see all of these bright, early career researchers creating ideas and relationships that will live on long after this meeting.”

The Southeast Control Conference was made possible by the generous support of the Dynamics, Control and Systems Diagnostics at the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, College of Engineering, and the departments of industrial and systems engineering, aerospace and ocean engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.