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A Cost-effective Laboratory Setup for Teaching System Dynamics and Controls

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Division for Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Pavan K. Karra Trine University

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Pavan Karra is Associate Professor at Trine University where he teaches in the field of Dynamics and Controls. He can be reached at

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System Dynamics and Controls class at XXXXX University had been handicapped by lack of equipment for experimental realization of concepts learned in class. A single existing Quanser setup ($5000 per unit) had been used for demonstration purpose but the students lacked the immersive experience a typical lab would provide. A similar, but more cost-effective equipment ($400 per unit), has been designed and seven units have been built and have been deployed in a laboratory setting. Three-four students share each unit. The hardware includes Raspberry Pi 3 (a credit card-sized computer), a 14-bit position encoder, a DC motor driver, and a 12V DC motor. The equipment bill of materials and some challenges during assembly are included in the paper. Labs have been developed based on the designed equipment and labs were run during Fall 2017 semester, with seven groups at 3-4 students per group. Topics covered in the lab include digital filtering, time domain and frequency domain characterization of first order and second order systems, feedback control of first and second order systems, steady state errors, control system design using root-locus and performance of PID controllers. A final project, which used the equipment, was undertaken by the students during the semester. A survey was conducted at the end of the semester to obtain students’ feedback about how the equipment affected their learning of concepts in the course. The survey results showed that the equipment had positive impact on student learning. Based on the student performance in the final exam, and comparing it to the student performance last year, the student average has increased but did not increase statistically-significantly, mainly due to small sample size. For Fall 2018 semester, the group size will be two and the study will determine the effect of groups size on student learning.

Karra, P. K. (2018, June), A Cost-effective Laboratory Setup for Teaching System Dynamics and Controls Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29670

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