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A Preliminary Assessment Of An Msc.Adams Control Design Project In Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Incorporating Projects into the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.95.1 - 11.95.12



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Paper Authors


Louis Everett University of Texas-El Paso

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Louis J. Everett is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas El Paso. Dr. Everett is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas and has research interests in the use of technology in the classroom. His technical research interests include robotics, machine design, dynamics and control systems.

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

A Preliminary Assessment of an MSC.ADAMS Control Design Project in Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering1 ABSTRACT The required undergraduate controls sequence at the University of Texas El Paso consists of a lecture and laboratory. To supplement the hardware laboratory a design project was assigned. The project used simulation software to visually model the hardware. This format differed from traditional projects that use software such as Simulink because the students could see the hardware moving on their computer screens not just a “scope” output. The anticipated benefits of the project are: • Reduced hardware maintenance costs – the students cannot damage the equipment. • Enhanced learning experience – the visual simulator can be programmed to exclude or include complicating factors (friction and saturation) as required for the learning experience. • Enhanced safety – the students cannot be injured by a controller malfunction. This paper describes a control design project that uses an MSC.ADAMS simulation of a mechanical device. The students must design and implement a controller for the device then test the response. Students can see the simulated device moving on the computer screen and more easily relate scope output signals to the device’s motion. Student attitudes about the activity were assessed to ascertain whether the visual nature of the project helps them better understand the control design process and if the design they perform helps make the theory more understandable. The hypothesis was that a “visual” model that students see being controlled will enable them to explain why theoretical design processes covered in lecture are important.

Introduction Several faculty at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) have adopted the goal to produce MORE BS level graduates who are BETTER qualified at a FASTER rate than ever before. This is not to say UTEP graduates are low quality because they are not. UTEP engineering graduates can be found in the best graduate schools, at high levels in major corporations and national laboratories. The MBF goal is a means to drive the curriculum to higher levels of expectation. This paper discusses one component of the MBF strategy, the implementation of an integrated project supporting a required “lecture” course on controls. The format for the controls sequence is a “lecture” portion plus a lab. The lab may be taken concurrently with the lecture or afterward. Approximately 10% of the students take the lab after completing the lecture. Since the lecture/lab can be taken separately, there is more flexibility in helping students arrange their studies around their work schedules, which is good, but it creates a problem trying to coordinate the subject matter in the two courses.

1 This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-0411320. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Support was also from the PACE program ( and the author gratefully acknowledges their support.

Everett, L. (2006, June), A Preliminary Assessment Of An Msc.Adams Control Design Project In Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--189

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