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A Controls Lab Sequence Designed To Foster Understanding

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.29.1 - 10.29.10

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Bradley Burchett

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

ASEE Annual Meeting 2005

Session # 3568

A Control Systems Lab Sequence Designed to Foster Understanding1

Bradley T. Burchett

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN 47803


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has a unique sophomore curriculum that culminates in a multi-disciplinary system dynamics course. Because of this curriculum, seniors entering their only required control systems course in the mechanical engineering curriculum have a background that differs from typical engineering upperclassmen. In particular, they have already seen the topics of modeling using transfer functions, state space and simulation diagrams, frequency response, and the rules for sketching Bode plots, and typical response of first and second order linear systems. With this in mind, the author has developed a series of laboratories to foster understanding of control systems topics. In particular, labs 2 and 4 seek to enhance understanding of the Bode and Root Locus plots respectively by requiring the students to generate these plots from experimental data. The sequence begins with time and frequency domain system identification, segues through basic control actions, experimental determination of the Root Locus plot, and ends with four design methodologies applied to single and two degree of freedom plants.

In ME 406, we emphasize model based design. In particular, we find parametric models of the rectilinear plant in one degree of freedom (1 DOF) and two degree of freedom (2 DOF) modes. The quality of control delivered from the ensuing model is directly limited by the quality of the model. A model of the system is necessary for the initial design of a controller, but the predicted response of the system may not match the true system response due to the simplified models being used.


As recipients of an NSF CCLI grant, the mechanical engineering and electrical engineering faculty at Rose-Hulman (RHIT) are currently upgrading the system dynamics and control laboratory. The investigators have chosen the Educational Control Products (ECP) Rectilinear Control System[1], shown in Figure 1, as the primary hardware plant used in the system

1 This work was supported by NSF CCLI grant number 0310445.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Burchett, B. (2005, June), A Controls Lab Sequence Designed To Foster Understanding Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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