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A Methodology to Teach Students to Implement Digital Controllers Using Embedded Systems

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Microprocessor, Microcontrollers, and Embedded Systems Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.66.1 - 26.66.16



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Paper Authors


Juan Felipe Patarroyo University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

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Electrical Engineer from the University of Quindío in Armenia, Colombia with emphasis on Digital Systems. Currently pursuing Master's Degree in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in the Area of Control Systems with minors in Digital Systems.

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Gerson Beauchamp University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Dr. Gerson Beauchamp is a professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Dr. Beauchamp received a BSEE from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) with High Honors in 1984. Dr. Beauchamp was the recipient of the Georg Simon Ohm Prize to the Best Graduating Electrical Engineering Student of his graduating class. He also earned an MS degree in Electrical Engineering in 1985 and a Ph.D. degree in 1990 both from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As part of his GEM Fellowship assignments, Dr. Beauchamp worked as a Technical Support Engineering for the E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Company during the summers of 1984, 1985, and 1986. Since January 1990 he started teaching at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the UPRM. Dr. Beauchamp research interests include process instrumentation and control, renewable energy applications of control systems, and innovative teaching strategies and methods.
Dr. Beauchamp has worked on a Solar-Assisted Air Conditioning project and is the co-author of two US Patents for this project. He was the coordinator of the Electrical Engineering Team that represented the University of Puerto Rico in the 2002 Solar Decathlon competition. He also was the general coordinator of the UPR Team for the 2005 competition.
During the six years period from 1992 to 1998, Dr. Beauchamp was the Coordinator of the Pre-College Engineering Program, a Summer Internship for High School raising seniors, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. He has also served as the Process Instrumentation and Control Laboratory Coordinator since 1992, as Academic Senator (1995-2001), Faculty Representative at the Administrative Board of the UPRM (2000-2001), Controls Area Committee Coordinator, Departmental Personnel Committee (1996-1997), and Liaison Officer for the Puerto Rico Louis Stoke Alliance for Minority Participation (PRLS-AMP) Project (August 1995 – December 1999).

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Aidsa I. Santiago-Roman University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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A Microcontroller Based System for Improving the Learning Process of Undergraduate Students in the Control Systems AreaMost of the course projects in the Control Systems Area are implemented using high levelsimulation tools and data acquisition boards. This method has yielded excellent results; but it hasthe disadvantage of not exposing students to implementing digital controllers directly withmicroprocessors. This issue is common to many universities. In this paper we propose a solutionthat will improve student’s understanding on how digital control systems are implemented in thereal world.Previous work has shown that using Simulink versus using microcontrollers yield similarperformance of digital controllers implemented in the Digital Control Systems Course Projects.Other authors have used a low-cost microcontroller system to perform real-time feedback controlexperiments. Specifically, their system was tested with undergraduate students by providing themsome code examples and a sample project. Results showed that students improved theirunderstanding on how control systems work.The proposed system uses the Texas Instruments C2000 F28069 Microcontroller, the DRV8833motor driver, and a custom made Analog Signal Conditioning Board. The system is enclosed in abox with all the ports needed to connect to the Controls Laboratory Experiments. A set of Clanguage libraries with solutions to the most common control problems is being developed.The effectiveness of this approach, compared to other methods (Simulink, Labview, etc.), isbeing tested with a pedagogical experiment that follows a backward design approach, in whichthe content, assessment, and pedagogy used to implement the proposed system are aligned. Inthis study, the content refers to a desired student outcome of the Digital Control Systems courseaccording to the existing ABET criteria: implement a digital controller using a digital computerand software (outcome e). The pedagogical activities include various workshops for a group ofstudents currently enrolled in the course. These are designed to enhance the implementation ofthe digital control system in the course project.A total of 3 workshops, of 2 hours each, will be given to students. It is expected for students touse their design and problem solving skills to implement the digital control system with themicrocontroller. In the first workshop, an overview of the Microcontroller Based Control System(MCS) is presented. In the second workshop, the students will learn how to read signals fromsensors and how to write a PWM output signal to the motor driver. In the third workshop, theywill use those signals to design and implement a basic proportional controller for the SRV-02servomechanism.Various instruments for data collection will be used. For instance, pre-and post-test are beingdesigned for each workshop to measure student outcomes. Student’s designs that result from eachworkshop will be assessed and graded following a pre-established rubric. Finally, the professorwill evaluate student’s performance through oral presentations using a rubric that has beendesigned to measure student outcomes as established by ABET criteria.

Patarroyo, J. F., & Beauchamp, G., & Santiago-Roman, A. I. (2015, June), A Methodology to Teach Students to Implement Digital Controllers Using Embedded Systems Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23407

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