Konnichiwa, Japan! ChemEng researchers attend IFAC World Congress

Last term, researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering journeyed to Yokohama, Japan, for the 22nd International Federation of Automatic Control World Congress. This congress, which takes place every three years, promotes scientific activities and technological developments in the field of automatic control. Our department was proud to present two research papers at the conference. The first, “End-to-end process monitoring: Challenges and framework for case study design,” was authored by Profs Lidia Auret and Tobi Louw, and presented at the conference by Prof Auret. The second, “Classical Actor-Critic Applied to the Control of a Self-Regulatory Process,” was a collaboration between Profs Steven Bradshaw, Tobi Louw, and PhD candidate Mr Edward Bras, with Mr Bras taking the stage to present.

According to Mr Bras, the conference led to personal and professional growth. “It improved my confidence to network and communicate with a variety of people, despite significant language- and cultural differences.” Furthermore, he mentioned that the conference was invaluable to benchmark his understanding against that of his peers, to discuss critical issues, and to see first-hand how our department’s research aligns with other leading global initiatives. “It was also exciting to meet lecturers whose work you have been reading during your postgraduate studies thus far and to experience the friendliness, helpfulness, and accessibility of the control systems community in general,” he shared.

Alongside the conference’s agenda, participants found moments to immerse themselves in Japan’s other offerings. “The natural beauty of the area and the customs, friendliness, and mindfulness of the Japanese people were all favourites,” explained Mr Bras. “I also obtained a first-hand glimpse into Japanese culture and cuisine during visits to Hakone and Kamakura.”  

In reflection on the event, Mr Bras also thanked his supervisor, Prof Louw. “Thank you for ensuring that attending a large international conference was not an intimidating experience, but the highlight of my PhD journey. Also, many thanks for finding our trains when I did not display any sense of direction in fully packed train stations!” 

Prof Lidia Auret during her presentation.

Mr Edward Bras.

Main image: Prof Tobi Louw and Mr Edward Bras, sight-seeing in a rainy Japan.