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Feedback and Control Course Labs for Distance Learning

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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

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Jiahui Song Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Jiahui Song received her B.S. in Automation and M.S. in Pattern Recognition & Intelligent Systems from Southeast University. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Old Dominion University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Technology at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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Douglas Eric Dow Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (started 2008). Education B.A. in Liberal Arts Engineering from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL); B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University (College Station, TX); M.S. in Computer Science from University of Colorado (Colorado Springs, CO); M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). Worked in industry for about 9 years at Ampex Corporation (video systems manufacturing) in Colorado Springs CO, Panasonic (central research lab) in Osaka, Japan, and National University of Singapore (center for image enhanced medicine) in Singapore. Post Doc or Sabbatical research was done at Tohoku University (biology information systems) in Sendai, Japan, Mayo Clinic (respiration research lab) in Rochester MN, and Kansai University (knowledge information systems) in Osaka, Japan. Core focus involves embedded electronic systems for applications in medical rehabilitation, health monitoring, physical therapy and assistive technologies. This involves development of hardware and software systems with sensors, embedded control and mechanical actuators. Applications include respiration monitoring, sleep apnea, rehabilitation of impaired muscle for recovery of motor function, health monitoring for elderly to extend independent living, and diabetes management. These systems utilize internet of things (IoT) for remote communication between patient, medical staff, care-givers and instrumentation.

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Lili Ma New York City College of Technology

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Dr. Lili Ma received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Utah State University focusing on autonomous ground vehicles. After that she did three-year post-doctoral training at Virginia Tech working with autonomous aerial vehicles. Prior to joining the Computer Engineering Technology (CET) department at City Tech in fall 2016, she taught at Wentworth Institute of Technology for many years. Professor Ma’s research areas include autonomous mobile robots, vision-based control, visual servoing, visual tracking, coordinated control, and sensing & perception techniques.

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Feedback and Control Course Labs for Distance Learning


Feedback and control is a course that introduces students to mathematical concepts that are used to analyze feedback control systems. Conventional courses in feedback and control use lectures and readings to explain the theory, and assign paper based problem sets of theory and math. A series of hardware based hands-on exercises and software based simulation studies can help students visualize the complex mathematical concepts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty were forced in summer 2020 to work or study from home. A series of exclusively software based labs and projects were designed to help students gain a better appreciation for how the concepts are useful in real-world situations.

Similar to the curriculum at many universities, our program has a feedback and control course for junior students in electrical engineering and electromechanical engineering. This course is a 3 hour lecture, 2 hour lab, 4 credit course. The following topics are introduced to students: modeling in the frequency domain, modeling in the time domain, time response, model reduction, stability, steady-state errors, root locus techniques, design via root locus, frequency response, and design via frequency response. Problem sets related to these topics were assigned. In order to improve motivation and distance learning, application-oriented and active-learning opportunities were created. 10 software based simulation labs and 3 projects were assigned in class.

Evaluations were based on student surveys (course evaluations) and student work (assigned labs and projects). 27 students took feedback and control course in Summer 2020. 26 students finished all labs and projects on time and 18 students received a “B-” or higher grade for the lab/project section. Moreover, 96% of students “agree” or “strongly agree” that software based exercises helped them to apply course material to improve thinking and problem solving. 93% of students “agree” or “strongly agree” that software based exercises related course material to real life applications.

Song, J., & Dow, D. E., & Ma, L. (2021, July), Feedback and Control Course Labs for Distance Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37190

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