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A Method To Utilize A Tissue Engineering Laboratory In A Control Theory Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.57.1 - 13.57.9



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Paper Authors


Michael Frassica University of South Carolina

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Michael J. Frassica is currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received a B.S. in Engineering Technology from Northeastern University in 1996 and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Carolina in 2007. From 1996 to 2004 he worked in industry as a product engineer.

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Jed Lyons University of South Carolina

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Jed Lyons is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of South Carolina. His passion is developing laboratory experiments and other hands-on active learning experiences for undergraduate, graduate and pre-college students.

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Philip Voglewede Marquette University

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Philip A. Voglewede is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Marquette University. He received the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1994, the M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1996, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2004. From 1994 to 2000 he worked for Whirlpool Corporation first in their Technical Excellence Program and then as a process engineer and shift superintendent.

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



A carefully planned control theory course is capable of tying together many topics encountered in an undergraduate engineering curriculum. Some challenges are presented though when teaching such a course. Traditional control courses tend to be highly conceptual and include topics difficult for students to grasp1. To show students the real-world relevance of mathematical modeling and control theory, a biomedical research experimental laboratory was introduced into the course. Students were required to design a control system to operate a peristaltic pump for nutrient supply and waste removal to grow tissue for an actual research experiment. The introduction of an interdisciplinary laboratory exposed the students to the “big picture” of controls systems in a nontraditional setting. The project reinforced what was taught in lecture regarding PID type controllers and aided in understanding controls as they relate to actual systems. Students indicated that the laboratory improved their understanding of the concepts covered in class and homework. The primary reported benefit was an increased clarity between the relationships of the gains of a PID controller and their corresponding physical results.


A control theory course tends to be a less tangible subject in engineering and thus was chosen as an ideal course to incorporate a laboratory to reinforce the theory2. Important information and transitional concepts are difficult to convey without practical application3. All too often students become frustrated by the bewildering task of trying to determine the real world relevance of the course. Typically, course curriculum is taught straight from a textbook like Ogata4 or Franklin et al5. Students memorize formulas, recognize patterns and regurgitate information during tests. Our primary objective was to inspire students to understand control theory by developing a laboratory experience for the course. Other objectives for incorporating the bioengineering laboratory into a controls course were to: 1) Describe how changing P, I, and D control gains will affect the step response of a second- order system. 2) Design a proportional, integral, and derivative (PID) controller via a root locus plot, Bode diagram and tuning rules. 3) Physically implement a proportional, integral, and derivative (PID) controller.

Granted, there are many laboratories that reinforce control theory. Some curriculums involve using canned experiments like an inverted pendulum, controlling the rotation of a wheel, etc6. While all these experiments are admirable and augment the lecture well, the model employed in this laboratory was different. This laboratory was designed to solve a true life problem encountered at a large state funded university. Specifically, the laboratory was designed to create a method of controlling a cutting edge tissue engineering experiment that is ongoing in the department of chemical engineering. Different aspects of the experimental setup would be used in subsequent years to continually update the laboratory experiment while simultaneously solving an open research problem.

Frassica, M., & Lyons, J., & Voglewede, P. (2008, June), A Method To Utilize A Tissue Engineering Laboratory In A Control Theory Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3491

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