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Design of a Portable Levitating Ball PID Control Trainer System and Curriculum for Electrical Engineering Technology Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

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Engineering Technology

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Kevin Zender Michigan Technological University

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Kevin is a recently graduated student from Michigan Technological university. He completed his undergrad in Electrical Engineering Technology with a minor in Data Acquisition and currently has a full time position at JR Automation as a Controls Engineer. Other interests include sustainability and woodworking.

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Corey Blankenship Michigan Technological University

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Tyson Joseph Bethke Michigan Technological University


Nathir A. Rawashdeh Michigan Technological University

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Nathir Ahmad Rawashdeh joined the College of Computing and Department of Applied Computing faculty in August 2019. Prior to this appointment, he was an associate professor in the Mechatronics Engineering Department at the German Jordanian University, where he spent 10 years. He served as the Acting Vice Dean of the School of Applied Technical Science, the Chair of the Department of Mechatronics Engineering, and the academic Exchange Coordinator with German partner universities. He spent two years as a Senior Software Engineer, in the laser division's Color Science and Imaging Department, at Lexmark International, Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky. Between 2000 and 2003, he was with The MathWorks, Inc. in Natick, Massachusetts working on software quality engineering for embedded DSP programming using MATLAB and Simulink. He has experience with European Union funded projects and served on several organizing and review committees. He is fluent in English, German and Arabic. His interests include unmanned ground vehicles, electromobility, robotics, image analysis, and color science. Dr. Rawashdeh is a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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This paper details the design of a levitating ball portable training system for in-depth learning of Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) control theory. This system can be incorporated into the Electrical Engineering Technology bachelor degree curriculum laboratories at Michigan Technological University. Based on the prevalence of PID control applications in industry, and it being a relatively advanced concept in traditional, theory heavy, control system courses, it is important to address this topic with a practical system. This has inspired the idea of designing a PID training lab course for the department. Focusing on analog circuits and programmable logic controllers, this lab course would give an in-depth look at the physical layout of the PID control system and how it operates. The laboratory procedures themselves include a physical demonstration of the software implementation of the PID calculation, with access to manipulate the code. PID tuning and understanding how gains at each stage affect the overall outcome of the control system response will be the highlights of the laboratory procedures. The overall layout of the design of this training lab could function as a framework curriculum, meaning that it could be used at other learning institutions other than Michigan Technological University. There are 3 existing courses within the Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) bachelor curriculum that have the flexibility to implement this form of training. This project looks to aid the preparation of future undergraduates interested in automatic control implementations.

Zender, K., & Blankenship, C., & Bethke, T. J., & Rawashdeh, N. A. (2021, July), Design of a Portable Levitating Ball PID Control Trainer System and Curriculum for Electrical Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36919

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