People of ACM European Chapters - Alex Firulescu

January 9, 2024

How did you initially become interested in robots and production systems?

My fascination with robots and production systems reveals a keen awareness of the transformative power these technologies hold in the modern industrial landscape. In today's world, the integration of robotic and automatic components has become ubiquitous, transcending the boundaries of production scales. It's noteworthy how these systems have evolved from being specialized tools to becoming integral parts of various industries. Within the realm of industrial robotics, my interest centers on intricate and multifaceted robotic systems. Whether it's articulated arms, SCARA, or Cartesian coordinates, my interest delves into the complexities of these machines and the myriad ways they enhance efficiency and precision in manufacturing processes. My curiosity also extends beyond the robots themselves, encompassing the intricate web of systems associated with industrial robotics.

The symbiotic relationship between production systems and robots, whether they involve subtractive processes like machining or additive processes like 3D printing, are indispensable counterparts to the robots that facilitate them. This holistic perspective underscores my understanding of the harmony between automation and material manipulation, where robots and production systems collaborate seamlessly to achieve unparalleled productivity and quality. Moreover, my awareness extends to the synergistic integration of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems and 3D printing technologies with robotic systems. This integration represents a harmonious convergence of precision, speed, and innovation. The continuous development and implementation of these technologies across diverse fields of work underscore their adaptability and transformative potential. This perpetual evolution speaks volumes about my forward-thinking approach, emphasizing my anticipation of the future possibilities that this dynamic technological landscape holds. As to say, my passion for these advancements not only reflects the present industrial paradigm but also hints at the exciting prospects that lie ahead.

In your area of research, what recent advance/emerging subfield will yield important advances in the years ahead?

The exponential growth of IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is astute and highlights the transformative power these technologies wield across various domains, especially in production and manufacturing systems. The convergence of IoT and AI in areas like 3D printing signifies a monumental shift in the way products are designed, prototyped, and manufactured. The prospect of incorporating these technologies into 3D printing is particularly fascinating. IoT, with its network of interconnected devices, can provide real-time data and control, enabling a level of precision and efficiency previously unimaginable. AI algorithms can optimize designs, predict failures, and enhance the overall printing process, making it not just faster, but also smarter. I anticipate that AI will reach a level of simplifying the design process to such an extent that anyone can translate their thoughts into tangible, 3D-printed objects. This democratization of design and production has the potential to unleash a wave of creativity, where innovation knows no bounds. Imagination, indeed, becomes the primary limitation, opening doors to a realm of possibilities where individuals can materialize their ideas swiftly and with ease.

Moreover, the optimization of the 3D printing process, coupled with the use of sustainable and cost-effective materials, marks a significant milestone. This advancement holds promises not only for individuals but also for large-scale industries, particularly in the automotive sector. The ability to address complex production challenges at minimal costs signifies a shift towards more sustainable manufacturing practices. This, in turn, translates into increased production capacities and reduced product costs, benefitting both manufacturers and consumers alike. In essence, the fusion of IoT and AI with 3D printing exemplifies a future where technology empowers creativity, enhances accessibility, and fosters sustainable practices. It heralds an era where the physical manifestation of ideas becomes swift, efficient, and within reach for everyone, reshaping the way we perceive and interact with the world of production and design. I see a future where innovation is not just a privilege for a select few but a universal opportunity, ushering in a new era of limitless creative expression and technological advancement.

Will you tell us about some of the regular activities or upcoming plans for the Romanian ACM Chapter?

The Romanian ACM Chapter plans to organize (together with UNSTPB and ASE) conferences, workshops, and meetings for the dissemination of information on new technologies and developments in the field. We will continue to support the research activity and the creation of didactic materials for students and adults within the various professional training programs supported by the Romanian ACM Chapter.

We want to organize more events with our partners and also increase our number of partners.

What advice would you offer a younger colleague just starting out in the computing field?

My insight into the mindset of the younger generation regarding their perception of the world is incredibly discerning. Contemporary youth, often adept in mathematical thinking and logical reasoning, indeed approach problem-solving in a unique manner. I encourage them not to limit their understanding to one specific direction but to embrace a broad spectrum of knowledge. In the realm of computing, where technology evolves at a rapid pace, having a diverse skill set is invaluable. The ability to connect ideas across various fields not only enhances problem-solving abilities but also fosters innovation. I advise them to be adaptable and versatile, enabling individuals to navigate the intricate landscape of technology with confidence and creativity.

Computing is not a stagnant discipline—it's a dynamic ecosystem where boundaries are constantly pushed and new horizons are continually explored. By encouraging the younger generation to explore, discover, analyze, and conquer, we’re essentially nurturing a mindset of curiosity and resilience. This mindset is essential in a field where change is the only constant and adaptability is key to staying ahead. In a world where technology shapes the future, the ability to stay curious, learn from diverse sources, and to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated fields becomes a potent tool. By embracing a holistic approach to learning and appreciating the interconnectedness of knowledge, the younger generation can indeed play a significant role in shaping the future. I want to inspire them to not only excel in their chosen paths but also to be pioneers, innovators, and visionaries who contribute meaningfully to the ever-expanding realm of computing and, by extension, the world at large.


Alexandru-Cristian Firulescu is a member of the faculty of Industrial Engineering and Robotics at Polytechnic University of Bucharest. His research interests include robots and production systems.

Firulescu is the Vice Chair of the Romanian ACM Chapter.