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An Interdisciplinary Control Systems Course For Engineering Technologists: Description Of Lecture Topics And Laboratory Experiments

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Interdisciplinary Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.190.1 - 10.190.8



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Paper Authors

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Harry Fox

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

An Interdisciplinary Control Systems Course for Engineering Technologists: Description of Lecture Topics and Laboratory Experiments Harry W. Fox Cleveland State University

Abstract For the past two years we have offered a required senior-level control systems course with laboratory designed to be taken jointly by mechanical engineering technology (MET) and electronics engineering technology (EET) students. This course focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of control systems and represents a departure from the traditional approach of teaching a separate control systems course to each engineering technology discipline. Certain controls concepts, such as dynamics and modeling, frequency response, feedback, and stability, are of fundamental importance and usefulness in virtually all engineering technology disciplines. The coursework begins with basic concepts and terminology and moves through a set progressively more challenging control problems involving the key elements of servo control, PID control, process control, and data acquisition. Theory-reinforcing laboratory experiments include dc motor characterization and speed control, liquid level and flow control, and MATLAB / Simulink computer simulations to verify experimental data. Interdisciplinary teamwork is stressed by forming lab groups with two or three students, on which there must be at least one MET and one EET student. Throughout the course the students often act as mentors for each other in the lab, with MET students being better prepared to work on the process control experiments and the EET students being better prepared to work on the motor and motion control experiments. Student evaluations of the interdisciplinary course have been mixed, with some students expressing the desire for separate MET and EET courses, and other students expressing the desire for coursework that was narrower in scope and in more depth. The faculty believe the course is on track with the broader needs of industry today for engineering technologists with interdisciplinary skills to design, build, and maintain products requiring the integration of electronics, computer, and mechanical technologies.

Introduction The restructuring of control systems education for senior-level engineering technology students at Cleveland State University began about three years ago. At that time, the only controls taught was in the servomechanism-oriented course EET 440 Feedback Control Systems and the associated lab course EET 441 Feedback Control Systems Laboratory. Both electrical engineering technology (EET) students and mechanical engineering technology (MET) students were required to jointly take the theory course (EET 440), but the MET students were exempted from taking the lab course (EET 441) because they lacked adequate “electrical” background to perform the lab experiments.

Clearly, it was thought, what the MET students needed was a controls course of their own, with a suitable laboratory component. As a result, two new courses were approved by the Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Fox, H. (2005, June), An Interdisciplinary Control Systems Course For Engineering Technologists: Description Of Lecture Topics And Laboratory Experiments Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15417

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