29th October 2014, 3:25pm
Award-winning control engineer brings expertise to Lincoln
Dr Andrea Paoli An award-winning engineer whose research specialisms include fault management in complex systems as well as the modelling and simulation of road traffic networks has joined the University of Lincoln’s School of Engineering.

Dr Andrea Paoli brings more than 10 years’ experience in developing new methods for fault detection in large-scale, safety critical systems and finding new systematic approaches to automatically fix failings.

This integrated approach to fault-finding can be applied to a range of technological areas impacting on major societal challenges, such as energy generation and management, healthcare, personal mobility and modern manufacturing.

Dr Paoli, who co-founded Engynya Ltd, an engineering consulting firm providing technological solutions in the control, monitoring and maintenance of industrial systems and vessels, said: “A system can fail at any time so you need to be able to detect faults and react to them. When a fault occurs, the two main objectives are to continue operations and to keep the system safe. This can apply to any kind of system where safety is paramount, from air travel to medicine. This is very important in the modern world which relies on many complex systems, particularly in the fields of healthcare, personal mobility and energy.”

Dr Paoli, who has undertaken industrial collaborations with several companies on control system design and reliability/safety analysis, also has a permanent advisory role in the activities of LIAM - the Industrial Laboratory for Automatic Packaging Machineries, co-funded by top-ranking worldwide automatic machinery manufacturers.

Dr Paoli said: “The packaging sector has special strategic importance in Italy. The Emilia Romagna region, where LIAM is based, is home to 60 per cent of Italy’s automatic packaging machinery suppliers. This area – comprising 170 companies with 13,000 employees and a combined annual turnover of about 3.1 billion euros – is known worldwide as the ‘Packaging Valley’, reflecting its global importance in both the R&D and manufacturing arenas.”

Another element of Dr Paoli’s experience is his involvement in creating a complex model capable of replicating several traffic conditions of a road network.

It was while at the University of Bologna in Italy that Dr Paoli and a team of researchers modelled and analysed many different road network situations, designing a complex model that could simulate how cars flowed in a street.

Dr Paoli explained: “The model could take into account the interaction between the vehicle, the street and the driver. The model could also randomly generate different types of vehicles and drivers. Thanks to its flexibility, it could simulate the best way to reach a certain point according to the traffic or it could also be used to understand the safety of the road’s structure, not only accounting for its geometry but also the physical characteristics of the road such as visibility and grip. The idea was to create a general library by which different traffic conditions could be modelled; that could then be used as a design tool for engineers in order to reduce the risk of a particular road.”

In 2005, jointly with other leading figures in the field, Dr Paoli was awarded the ‘Automatica Applications Prize’, a world-famous award from the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) presented every three years in recognition of the paper deemed to make an outstanding contribution to applied research in control engineering.

On his appointment at Lincoln, Dr Paoli said: “As an academic raised at the University of Bologna, within a control research group with a long-established tradition, my entire work rests on the firm belief that pioneering research has to be interdisciplinary, supported by a strong theoretical basis and rooted in a network of strong ties with industry. I strongly believe that combining the University of Lincoln’s potential of industrial collaboration and true interdisciplinary research with my theoretical background – albeit always applied to the industry – could create and foster excellent opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborative research projects.”