Courses

Courses and Teaching Staff Overall, the two-year M.Sc. in Bionics Engineering grants 120 ECTS (CFU, in Italian). Furthermore, the M.Sc. offers two different curricula. At the end of the first year each student can choose one of them: the neural...

Courses and Teaching Staff

Overall, the two-year M.Sc. in Bionics Engineering grants 120 ECTS (CFU, in Italian). Furthermore, the M.Sc. offers two different curricula. At the end of the first year each student can choose one of them:

  • the neural engineering curriculum is focused on neuro-instrumentation, neural interfaces, neural signal acquisition and processing, neural networks, bioinspired sensing systems and design of robots mimicking social behaviors;
  • the biorobotics curriculum is focused on the development of humanoid and animaloid robot models, wearable robots, bionic implantable organs, artificial upper and lower limbs, robots and platforms for diagnosis, surgery and rehabilitation, computational biomechanics, micro/nano-robots and biomaterials.

1st year courses

MANDATORY COURSES

FOCUS: Statistical signal processing methods for deterministic and random parameter estimation, data analysis, random signal recovery and filtering, model identification, power spectral density estimation.
MAIN CONTENTS: Orthonormal base signal expansion, Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Sample estimators, Method of moments estimators, Maximum likelihood estimators, Linear and Non Linear Least Squares, Bayes estimation, Minimum Mean Square Error (MMSE) and Maximum A Posteriori (MAP) estimation, Linear MMSE (LMMSE) estimation, ARMA modeling, Wiener filter for signal filtering, prediction and interpolation, parametric and non Parametric power spectral density estimation.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Background knowledge necessary to solve typical problems by using methods of statistical signal processing.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Fulvio Gini (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

The course aims to introduce the main concepts and techniques used in bioinspired computational methods. The course is organized in two modules:  “Biological Data Mining” and “Neural and fuzzy computation“.

 

BIOLOGICAL DATA MINING
FOCUS: main techniques used in Data Mining.
MAIN CONTENTS: data preprocessing, frequent pattern mining, classification, prediction, clustering and outlier detection, laboratories on the application of the methods presented during the course.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: To provide a solid knowledge of the main techniques used in data mining. This knowledge will allow identifying the most suitable approach for solving each type of data mining problem.

ECTS: 6
PROF: Francesco Marcelloni (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

NEURAL AND FUZZY COMPUTATION
FOCUS
: Basic concepts and models of Computational Intelligence; Application of the associated techniques to real-world problems in several application domains.
MAIN CONTENTS: Artificial neural networks; Deep learning; Fuzzy logic; Fuzzy systems; Genetic algorithms.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Design and develop intelligent systems with human-like capabilities in terms of reasoning, learning and adaptation.

ECTS: 6
PROF: Beatrice Lazzerini (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

This course is organized in two modules: “Behavioral and cognitive neuroscience” and “Computational neuroscience“.

 

BEHAVIORAL AND COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE
FOCUS: Neuroimaging has revolutionized neuroscience, allowing us to investigate the neural correlates of behavior and mental functions.
MAIN CONTENTS: basics of brain anatomy and physiology neuroimaging methodologies: principles, applications, methods of analysis; neurobiological correlates of cognition and behavior; functional neuroanatomy of perception, consciousness and sleep, language, emotions and behavior motor control and representation of action, development of brain-computer interfaces.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: The course introduces the theoretical and methodological aspects of cognitive and social neuroscience, introducing to the fundamentals of brain anatomy and physiology, and to neuroimaging techniques.

ECTS: 6
PROF: Emiliano Ricciardi, Pietro Pietrini (IMT)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

COMPUTATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE
FOCUS: Introduction to fundamentals of the CNS considering both the bio-inspired neural modelling and computational point of view.
MAIN CONTENTS: Neuroscience modeling; Spiking and reservoir computing neural networks; Advanced computational learning models; Dynamical/Recurrent neural networks.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Capability of analysis and development of advanced CNS/Machine Learning models.

ECTS: 6
PROF: Alessio Micheli, Claudio Gallicchio (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Soft and smart materials” and “Instrumentation and measurement for bionic systems“.

 

SOFT AND SMART MATERIALS
FOCUS: Use of soft materials for developing innovative sensors and actuators.
MAIN CONTENTS: Novel actuation technologies; Introduction to Finite Element Models (FEM); FEM implemented in ANSYS software for non-linear analysis for design purposes.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Use of soft/compliant material for the design of intelligent mechatronic systems.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Matteo Cianchetti (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

INSTRUMENTATION AND MEASUREMENTS FOR BIONIC SYSTEMS
FOCUS: Methods and techniques for the measurement of physical and electrical variables in bionic systems.
MAIN CONTENTS: Application and design of measurement systems; Measurement systems behavior through mathematical modeling; Probability & statistics for analysis of experimental data.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: How to deal with measurement problem solving (data acquisition, analysis and interpretation).
ECTS: 6
PROF: Angelo Maria Sabatini (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

FOCUS: Biomechanics of human movements and physiological principles underlying motor control.
MAIN CONTENTS: 3D kinematics and kinetics; physiology of muscle contraction; modeling of muscle-tendon actuators; numerical methods to solve dynamic models adopted in biomechanics; EMG signals; instruments in a motion lab.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Methodological approach for the study of human motion during dynamic motor tasks mediated by muscle-tendon actuators.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Vito Monaco (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

Elective courses (students need to complete at least 12 ECTS by choosing elective courses)

FOCUS: Make students able to face frontier engineering problems, by combining science and hi-tech approaches (proper of bionics design).
MAIN CONTENTS: Introduction to the course, historical hints and definitions; Bionic structural design and main material classes and fabrication technologies; Bionic locomotion principles and robotic zoo; Swarm intelligence and collective behaviors; Morphological computation; Bionic sensors and actuators; Bionic energy management: comparison between animals and robots; Examples of current bionics systems and applications; Ethical, economic and legal considerations related to bionics.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Providing basic knowledge and principles on design, fabrication, and control processes of bionics systems; Highlighting current bionics systems and their applications; Stimulating students directly to develop innovative bionic concepts by exploiting the knowledge acquired during the course.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Paolo Dario (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

FOCUS: Computational and physical models that emulate neuron dynamics.
MAIN CONTENTS: Technological solutions for embedded spiking systems; Signal processing techniques for spiking signals (artificial or physiological); Methods for simulating neuron dynamics (e.g. Izhikevich model); Use and design of neuromorphic systems.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Neurorobotic systems and neurophysiological data for restoring sensori-motor functions.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Calogero Maria Oddo, Alberto Mazzoni (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

FOCUS: Non linear mechanics of one-dimensional active and elastic systems in the regime of large deformations: from robotic arms to elephant trunks.
MAIN CONTENTS: Infinitesimal and finite rotations; Kinematics and equilibrium of deformable rods; Material properties and constitutive models; Principle of virtual powers and the Finite Element Method; Applications: wires and tendons, Euler’s elastic and Galileo’s beam, bending with large deformations, buckling and post-critical behavior of elastic systems.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Methodological approach for the study of shape control problems in biological and robotic systems.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Antonio De Simone (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

FOCUS: To analyze the economic and business dimensions of the medical technologies and of the robotics for healthcare sectors.
MAIN CONTENTS: Specificities of the healthcare sector and economic dimension of medical technologies and robotics for healthcare; Economic assessment techniques of robotics for healthcare and its sustainability; Business and marketing models of robotics for healthcare.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: To understand the specificities and mechanisms of the healthcare sector and to define the strategies to favor the acquisition and transfer to the clinical practice of medical technologies and robotics for healthcare.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Giuseppe Turchetti, Valentina Lorenzoni (SSSA).
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

FOCUS: Analysis and design of the building blocks of an electronic system for the acquisition and processing of biological sensor data.
MAIN CONTENTS: Analog front-end building blocks: instrumentation amplifiers, filters and ADC/DAC converters; Digital interfaces transferring digitalized sensor data to an embedded microcontroller; Design principles for energy and power efficient electronic systems for wearable applications.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Acquisition of a solid knowledge of the techniques and methods related to the design of sensor based electronic systems.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Daniele Rossi (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

2nd year courses – Curriculum BIOROBOTICS

FOCUS: Bioinspired robotics and biorobotic platforms for neuroscience and biology.
MAIN CONTENTS: Humanoid Robotics, Neurocontrollers; Bioinspired perception, Robot vision; Embodied Intelligence and Soft Robotics, Underactuated mechanisms.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: How to design and control robots using bio-inspired principles.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Marcello Calisti (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Prostheses” and “Exoskeletons“.

 

PROSTHESES
FOCUS: Restoration of the upper limb sensorimotor function through prostheses.
MAIN CONTENTS: Anatomy and neurophysiology of the upper limb; Upper limb prosthetic components; Human-machine interfaces for prosthetics; Pattern recognition control; Embedded controls.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Technologies and methods to design and assess upper limb prosthetic components and systems.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Christian Cipriani (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

EXOSKELETONS
FOCUS: Design challenges and state-of-the-art solutions of wearable robots.
MAIN CONTENTS: Introduction to wearable robotics; State of the art of upper- and lower-limb robotic exoskeletons; Multi-layered control architectures running on real-time targets with FPGA processors; Labview RT and FPGA modules.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Design of wearable powered robots for movement assistance, rehabilitation, augmentation and/or functional replacement.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Nicola Vitiello, Simona Crea (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Robotics for minimally invasive therapy” and “Micro/nano robotics and biomaterials“.

 

ROBOTICS FOR MINIMALLY INVASIVE THERAPY
FOCUS: Robot, intelligent tools, integrated mechatronic systems to improve accuracy and repeatability in surgical interventions.
MAIN CONTENTS: Why do we need surgical robots? Surgical operation: autonomous robots, tele-opearated robots, hand held, shared control. Endoluminal robotic approaches; Guidelines for designing easy to use robots, featured by limited invasiveness.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Knowledge and tools to build/use robots in surgical/diagnostic/therapeutic fields.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Arianna Menciassi (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

MICRO/NANO ROBOTICS AND BIOMATERIALS
FOCUS: Regenerative medicine and micro/nano-medicine.
MAIN CONTENTS: Microfabrication technologies; Molecular biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine; Biomaterials promoting tissue regeneration; Micro/nano robots for advanced therapies; Physical triggers to promote drug delivery.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Technologies and approaches to regenerate human tissues; Techniques to use micro/nano-technologies for targeted therapies.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Leonardo Ricotti (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Robot companions for assisted living” and “Cloud robotics“.

 

ROBOT COMPANIONS FOR ASSISTED LIVING
FOCUS: Robotics for rehabilitation and assistance and technologies for functional assessment.
MAIN CONTENTS: Introduction to rehabilitation and assistive robotics; State of the art of robotic systems for rehabilitation and assistance; Human-robot interaction: kinematics, dynamics and control techniques.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Design of robots for rehabilitation and assistance; Human-centered control strategies for safe and reliable human-robot interaction.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Maria Chiara Carrozza (SSSA)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

CLOUD ROBOTICS
FOCUS: Basic knowledge and methodologies for designing and implementing service robotic solutions based on the integration of mobile robotic platforms, sensor networks and Cloud computing.
MAIN CONTENTS: State of the art of social robotics and human robot interaction; Architecture and functioning of Internet of Things devices based on STM32 microcontroller; Software and hardware architecture for programming robotic platforms with ROS and Gazebo; Design and implementation of perception-reasoning paradigms for human robot interaction.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Design and development of cloud social robots for assistance, geriatric assessment and support in assisted living applications.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Egidio Falotico (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

2nd year courses – Curriculum NEURAL ENGINEERING

FOCUS: Pre-neural and neural components of human and animal senses. Bionics senses design.
MAIN CONTENTS: Introduction to natural senses; Properties of biological receptors; Physics of pre-neural media; Sensations and perceptions; The human senses; Modeling and design of bionic senses.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Engineering artificial sensing and perceptual systems through biological principles to implement neural-prostheses to restore lost functions, for human augmentation and bio-inspired perceptional machines.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Alessandro Tognetti (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

The courses is organized in two modules: “Interactive systems” and “Affective computing“.

 

INTERACTIVE SYSTEMS
FOCUS: Complex system used for interaction with humans.
MAIN CONTENTS: Human-centred Design; Smart objects and systems; Internet of things.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Design of systems able to interface with humans; Learning base concepts of “human-centered design”.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Daniele Mazzei (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

AFFECTIVE COMPUTING
FOCUS: Advanced techniques for monitoring and process physiological signals for studying emotions.
MAIN CONTENTS: Physiology of emotional response; Computatitonal modeling of emotions; Origin, processing and monitoring of ECG, breathing pattern, EDA and voice; Nonlinear methods and models for biomedical signal processing; Eye tracking, body movement analysis and facial emotion recognition.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Acquire basic knowledge to monitor and process physiological signal corresponding to different emotional states.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Enzo Pasquale Scilingo (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Neural tissue engineering” and “Neural interfaces and bioelectronic medicine“.

 

NEURAL TISSUE ENGINEERING
FOCUS: Technological processes and materials to build neural grafts and promote their interaction with physiological neural tissue.
MAIN CONTENTS: Bioactive materials and their characterisation; 2D and 3D Fabrication; Neuro-Chemical functionalisation (consult the course material).
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Acquire the strategies to develop grafts and scaffolds that can be implanted to promote nerve regeneration and to repair neural damage.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Giovanni Vozzi (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

NEURAL INTERFACES AND BIOELECTRONIC MEDICINE
FOCUS: Implantable neuroprostheses.
MAIN CONTENTS: Brain-to-machine interfaces; Artificial limbs with neural control; Sensory and motor neuroprostheses; Neuromodulation of the autonomic nervous system.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Provide students with methodologies for the development and validation of implantable systems for neuromodulation.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Silvestro Micera, Alberto Mazzoni (SSSA)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

The course is organized in two modules: “Advanced image processing” and  “Integrative cerebral functions”.

 

ADVANCED IMAGE PROCESSING
FOCUS: Models and Methods fo brain function analysis.
MAIN CONTENTS: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI); Brain connectivity from fMRI and Electroencephalography (EEG); Source imaging from EEG e MRI.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: How different methods for brain function studies are applied; Link between experimental design and data analysis approaches.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Nicola Vanello, Gaetano Valenza (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 1st Semester

 

INTEGRATIVE CEREBRAL FUNCTIONS
FOCUS: Cognitive and emotional brain functions as the by-product of the activity of anatomo-functional distributed and integrated brain networks.
MAIN CONTENTS: Node and rich-clubs in the human connectome; Sleep, mentation and dreaming; Biological bases of consciousness; Theory of mind and mirror neuron system; Empathy in the emotional context; Stress in the context of body and mind integration.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: Methodological approach for the study of complex brain functions and their biological bases.
ECTS: 6
PROF: Angelo Gemignani (UNIPI)
PERIOD: 2nd Semester

Final duties

This activity will consist of 75 h of Lab training that the student will perform in dedicated facilities and laboratories, with the aim to increase his/her experience in laboratory practice.
ECTS: 3

The final examination involves the preparation of a report on a research activity, and in its presentation and discussion.
ECTS: 15