UKACC is the United Kingdom’s National Member Organisation of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC). UKACC seeks to act as an effective link between the UK and the international control communities, and to provide a focus for IFAC-related activities.

The International Federation of Automatic Control was founded in September 1957 and is a multinational federation of National Member Organizations (NMOs), each one representing the engineering and scientific societies concerned with automatic control in its own country.

The purpose of the Federation is to promote the science and technology of control in the broadest sense in all systems, whether, for example, engineering, physical, biological, social or economic, in both theory and application. IFAC is also concerned with the impact of control technology on society.

There are two primary ways in which UKACC aims to encourage and facilitate IFAC activity in the UK:

IFAC Technical Committees

IFAC has a Technical Committee (TC) structure, and National Member Organisations are able to make nominations on a triennial basis for each of these Committees. UKACC actively seeks nominations from the UK control community and puts names forward to serve alongside others of international repute. These UK members represent the interests of the community to their TC and in return are expected to attract IFAC Conferences, Symposia and Workshops into the UK. IFAC TCs typically meet once per year at one of the major events with which the Committee is associated. More information on the nomination process can be found here.

IFAC Conferences, Symposia And Workshops

UKACC seeks to identify potential organisers of future IFAC Conferences, Symposia and Workshops in the UK . These events can be organised through institutions such as the IET or InstMC, but usually they are run independently by the host establishment.

Forthcoming IFAC events are listed on their website. Applications are welcomed from potential organisers of any of the regular IFAC events. Details of the application process, terms and conditions and application forms can be found on the Events page.

Other UKACC Activities

In addition to its links with IFAC, UKACC runs a number of other activities including its annual UKACC Lecture and the biennial Control Conference.

Download: UKACC History and Present Day Activities

What is Automatic Control? 

Automatic control is concerned with designing dynamic systems such that they behave in a desirable way. Such systems are often complex, and many include feedback loops, either inherent or designed-in to achieve required characteristics. Control is a fundamental part of engineering, and critical in the operation of aircraft, process plant, hybrid vehicles, mobile phones, wind turbines and a multitude of other machines. But feedback control is equally evident in other fields, such as biological and economic systems for example. 

As machines become more complex, control systems are a way of imparting the correct functionality in a reliable and safe manner, and sometimes providing a degree of intelligence. The optimum design of control systems is growing in importance, and the academic study of control is mostly concerned with designing the best possible controller based on an understanding the underlying dynamics of a system (a ‘plant’) . Although the importance of control is recognised in a wide range of industries, in many cases mathematically-based approaches are only just beginning to supplant heuristic trial-and-error methods. The challenge for control academics is to ensure that new methods can be commissioned by the non-specialist, are robust, reliable, and provide a return on investment.