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A Controls Laboratory Program With An Accent On System Identification

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.7.1 - 2.7.8



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Brian Armstrong

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A Controls Laboratory Program with an Accent on System Identification

Brian Armstrong Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, P.O. 784, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201, U.S.A.

Abstract A sequence of laboratories is presented which have been designed to maximize student involvement in the design as well as execution of the laboratory exercises. The student works quite independently, starting with the simplest plant and control model, and a relatively structured identification experiment, controller design and performance assessment. The student moves to self-designed system identification and controller design. The cap stone of the course is a competitive controls application which challenges the students command of the theoretical tools as well as thoroughness and accuracy of experimental technique. 1. Introduction The education literature provides many examples of high quality laboratory instruction programs in controls engineering (e.g. [l, 2, 4]). One challenge to designing any laboratory program is to involve the student in discovery learning, as opposed to closely directed verification of physical principles. The education literature makes clear that student involvement in the design as well as implementation of a laboratory exercise is an important contributor to two-year retention of the concepts presented [3]. The controls laboratory sequence presented here has been designed to meet the challenge of incorporating discovery learning. The laboratory sequence evolved incrementally over a period of four years during which time it gradually became clear that system identification could be used as a vehicle for increasing the students participation in the discovery process. In our first efforts, complete models were given the student and multi-term controllers were tested from the outset. Today, the student starts with a blank sheet of paper and each controller is designed by the student based on a model he or she has identified. The semester culminates in a master-slave servo tracking problem in which the student implements control for a servo which must track a progressively more agile target. The final project is competitive, in the sense that each group’s time to loss-of-target is measured, and corresponds to high-bandwidth performance of the engineered control. The laboratory sequence is used in the Electrical Engineering program at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with the first course in controls. This is an elective course usually taken by Electrical Engineering majors in the senior year. The course syllabus covers the traditional collection of topics, starting with Laplace transform and modelling, and concluding with design using root locus.

Armstrong, B. (1997, June), A Controls Laboratory Program With An Accent On System Identification Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6468

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