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Hands-on Experiments in Dynamic Systems and Control With High Student Throughput

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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

Dynamic Systems and Control

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.833.1 - 26.833.17



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Paper Authors


Daniel J Cox University of North Florida

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Daniel Cox received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992 and his masters and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida in 1981 and 1979. He worked in industry for sixteen years for IBM at their facilities in Boulder Colorado and Austin Texas. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of North Florida in 2001, he was also program manager for the Robotics Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Lawrence K. Mao University of North Florida

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Bachelor's of Art in Physics concentrated in Astronomy, San Francisco State University
Graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, University of North Florida
Lab Assistant for Department of Physics, University of North Florida
Lab Assistant for Mechanical Engineering, University of North Florida

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Hands-on Experiments in Dynamic Systems and Control With High Student ThroughputIncreased student enrollment with limited instructional resources poses significant challengeswhen attempting to meet the goal of hands-on experiences in system dynamics and controlexperiments in a mechanical engineering curriculum. A single-credit, co-requisite requiredlaboratory course in system dynamics and control is redesigned to double throughput of studentparticipation and credit-earning potential. The strategy to accomplish this goal is described inthis paper, as are examples of the experiments, activities related to the experiments, and themethods of assessment.The hands-on approach to realized physical system experiments is maintained while theexperiments are also augmented with tightly coupled simulation exercises. A series ofexperiments in system identification are described that augment a pre-requisite systems modelingand analysis course, a pre-requisite to the laboratory course in the mechanical engineeringcurriculum. An additional series of experiments in control systems are also described thataugment a senior-level system controls course, a co-requisite course to the laboratory course.The experiment resources consist of three different physical plant types. Replications of thephysical plants continues to contribute to the increased student throughput while also keeping thehands-on student teams to a minimum, three to four students per experiment. The students workin teams while performing the experiments, however, independent analysis and reporting isrequired and assessed. Examples of streamlined experiment activities are provided incomparison to experiments prior to the course revision. The streamlined experiments facilitatemore efficient laboratory experiences while also increasing throughput of hands-on experimentactivity.The correlated simulation experiments in system dynamics and control are also described.Exercises in development of Simulink models that correspond to the physical experiments aredescribed. The strategy of scheduling the hands-on experiment activities in parallel withcorrelated system simulation is also explained. The complementary simulation exercises enhancestudents’ understanding of the experiments and also contribute to the throughput of the course. Agrading rubric consisting of aspects of the hands-on experiments, simulation, and report writingis fully described. The assessment of this new approach to the laboratory course in systemdynamics and control is included in the paper.

Cox, D. J., & Mao, L. K. (2015, June), Hands-on Experiments in Dynamic Systems and Control With High Student Throughput Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24170

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