Cesar Vandevelde, PhD

design technologist

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Cesar Vandevelde, PhD


My name is Cesar. I am driven by a passion for understanding and creating technology. Technology continues to have a tremendous impact on all aspects of society, and I want to help create the next big thing. I fulfill many roles, but at the core I consider myself a design technologist. I help others go from a simple sketch on a piece of paper to a working proof-of-concept prototype. In my work, I have a special focus on technical design, manufacturability and user interaction aspects. My broad knowledge foundation allows me to communicate with all the stakeholders in an interdisciplinary environment, and with my deep expertise, I can offer unexpected solutions to the product design conversation. As a product designer, I firmly believe in the value of hands-on, iterative prototyping. Even though I recently finished my PhD, my skills are not limited to the theoretical domain. I have a strong affinity for tinkering and making, as is evidenced by the broad scope of prototypes I developed during my doctorate. There you go, that's me in a nutshell. If you wish to learn more, I invite you to see below for an overview of my background, my interests, and my work.

Showcase: Ono

Ono is one of the the social robots I developed during my PhD. He can communicate with people through speech and a wide range of facial expressions. The Ono robot was created for human-robot interaction research with children, where he offers a low-cost and hackable alternative for existing robots. The design of Ono pushed the boundaries of my design skills and technical know-how. As such, it offers an excellent overview of my profile as a design technologist.

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The gallery below gives an overview of projects I have worked on in the past. Click an item to find out more, or use the filter tools to find out more about a specific topic.

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Ghent University
2012 — 2017
Ph.D. — Industrial Design Engineering Technology

After graduating, I was offered the chance to pursue a doctorate degree at Ghent University. A unique chance to broaden and deepen my skill set by performing academic research in an international, interdisciplinary environment. Obtaining my PhD was a challenging, yet deeply rewarding experience.

2008 — 2012
M.S. — Industrial Engineering: Industrial Design

As an industrial design engineer, I could combine my technical knack with my passion for creativity, arts and design. During this hands-on educational program, I discovered my love for designing electronic and mechatronic products.

  • Master's thesis: Ono, a Huggable Robot
  • Graduated magna cum laude
O.L.V. Hemelvaart
2002 — 2008
Secondary — ASO Sciences & Mathematics

From an early age, I have been interested in science and technology. Studying Science & Mathematics in secondary school was a natural fit.

Work Experience

Ghent University
Researcher Smart Products for Mobile Wellbeing
  • Tech-transfer project with local industry focused on IoT technology.
  • Primary technology expert within the project.
  • Responsible for creating working prototypes of smart product concepts.
Ghent University
2012 — 2017
Ph.D. — Industrial Design Engineering Technology
  • Created an open source toolkit for building custom social robots with facial expressions.
  • Developed software, electronics and mechanical hardware for social robots.
  • Organized 3 workshops at international conferences where novices created fully-working social robots over the course of one day.
  • Authored 3 publications in scientific journals and 10 papers presented at international conferences: list of publications.
  • Teaching assistant for courses “mechatronic product design”, “constructive design”, “design and workspace”.
  • Gave guest lectures on specialist subjects: “additive manufacturing”, “social robotics”, “interaction design”, “electronics prototyping”.
  • Supervised 7 master's theses.
Delta Light
summer 2011

R&D department — Designed and prototyped outdoor lighting products.

summer 2010
summer 2009
Student job

R&D department — Created fully-parametric CAD models of fencing products. Reverse engineered and created production drawings of legacy products.


digital manufacturing

I am proficient in operating digital manufacturing machines and I know how to design for each specific technique.

CNC machining

electronics prototyping

I can build working electronics prototypes and one-off designs using off-the-shelf components.

SMD Soldering
PCB rework

pcb design

I can turn a prototype circuit into a compact printed circuit board designs and I have experience with PCB manufacture.

Eagle CAD
Digital circuits
Analog circuits

concept development

I have experience with ideation, conceptual design and product innovation techniques.

Communicative sketching
Technical creativity

prototype fabrication

I am familiar with a wide range of manual prototyping techniques.


software development

I am a skilled programmer with experience in a wide range of programming languages.


aesthetics design

I have an eye for aesthetics and visual design. I have experience with different mediums, including print, digital, and product design.

Adobe suite

mechanical engineering

I am a trained engineer. I have a broad background in engineering principles, tools, and techniques.

Siemens NX

interaction design

I am specialized in designing interactive products, a discipline that combines aspects of the physical and the digital world.

User-centered design
Interface design


Driver's license

personality traits

Creative and open-minded
Problem solver
Quick and eager learner

PhD dissertation

C. Vandevelde (2017). “Study on the Design of DIY Social Robots”. Ghent University. download pdf

Journal articles

C. Vandevelde, F. wyffels, B. Vanderborght, and J. Saldien (2017). “DIY Design for Social Robots”. In: IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine 24.1, pp. 86–94. download pdf

P. D. Conradie, C. Vandevelde, J. De Ville, and J. Saldien (2016). “Prototyping Tangible User Interfaces: Case Study of the Collaboration between Academia and Industry”. In: International Journal of Engineering Education 32.2, pp. 1–12. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, F. wyffels, C. Ciocci, B. Vanderborght, and J. Saldien (2015). “Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits”. In: International Journal of Technology and Design Education 26.4, pp. 521–540. download pdf

Peer-reviewed book chapters

C. Vandevelde, J. Saldien, M.C. Ciocci, and B. Vanderborght (2013). “Systems overview of Ono: a DIY reproducible open source social robot”. In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science 8239, pp. 311-320. download pdf

Peer-reviewed conference papers

T. Vervisch, N. Doms, S. Descamps, C. Vandevelde, F. wyffels, S. Verstockt, and J. Saldien (2017). “OTO - A DIY Platform for Mobile Social Robots in Education”. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Robotics in Education. Sofia, Bulgaria. download pdf

J. Saldien, S. Notebaert, C. Vandevelde, and D. Bovijn (2017). “Demonstration of OPSORO's Grid System”. In: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. Vienna, Austria. pp. 46-47. download pdf

C. Vandevelde and J. Saldien (2016). “An Open Platform for the Design of Social Robot Embodiments for Face-to-Face Communication”. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 287–294. download pdf

C. Vandevelde and J. Saldien (2016). “Demonstration of OPSORO – an Open Platform for Social Robots”. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. Christchurch, New Zealand. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, M. Vanhoucke, and J. Saldien (2015). “Prototyping social interactions with DIY animatronic creatures”. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction. Stanford, USA. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, P. Conradie, J. De Ville, and J. Saldien (2014). “Playful interaction: designing and evaluating a tangible rhythmic musical interface”. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Live Interfaces. Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 132–141. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, J. Saldien, C. Ciocci, and B. Vanderborght (2014). “Ono, a DIY open source platform for social robotics”. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction.. Munich, Germany. download pdf

M. Vanhoucke, C. Vandevelde, J. Ingels, G. Hamon, and J. Saldien (2014). “Serious game as educational tool for safety and prevention”. In: Proceedings of the 2014 ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play – Workshop Participatory Design for Serious Game Design. Toronto, Canada. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, J. Saldien, C. Ciocci, and B. Vanderborght (2013). “The use of social robot ono in robot assisted therapy”. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Social Robotics. Bristol, UK. download pdf

C. Vandevelde, J. Saldien, C. Ciocci, and B. Vanderborght (2013). “Overview of technologies for building robots in the classroom”. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Robotics in Education. Lodz, Poland. download pdf