June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.57.1 - 13.57.9
A METHOD TO UTILIZE A TISSUE ENGINEERING LABORATORY IN A CONTROL THEORY COURSE
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.
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