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Implementing a Full-state Feedback Laboratory Exercise in an Introductory Undergraduate Control Systems Engineering Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


James E. Bluman U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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Lieutenant Colonel James Bluman is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He has served the United States Army for the last 19 years as an officer and Army Aviator. He is a graduate of West Point (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering), Penn State (M.S. in Aerospace Engineering), and the Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville (Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering). His research interests are in the flight dynamics of VTOL aircraft and UAVs and innovative teaching methods.

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Aaron St. Leger U.S. Military Academy

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Aaron St. Leger is an Associate Professor and the Electrical Engineering Program Director at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is also the Class of 1950 Chair of Advanced Technology. He received his BSEE, MSEE and PhD degrees at Drexel University. His research and teaching interests include alternative energy, electric power systems, modeling and controls. He has over 60 peer-review publications on these subjects. His recent work has focused on integrating alternative energy and demand response controllers to improve electric power systems for military forward operating bases, and wide area monitoring and control systems for power grids. He is an active senior member of the IEEE. He founded and served as chair in the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) Young Professionals Committee, and currently serves in the IEEE PES Power and Energy Education Committee, IEEE PES Long Range Planning Committee, IEEE Young Professionals Committee, and has previously served as the faculty advisor to the USMA IEEE student branch.

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Christopher Michael Korpela U. S. Military Academy

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LTC Christopher Korpela is an Associate Professor and Director of the Robotics Research Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point. An honor graduate from West Point, he earned his M.S. from the University of Colorado and Ph.D. from Drexel University, all in Electrical Engineering. He also holds a M.A. in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and simultaneously served on the faculty while teaching a course on autonomous weapons systems. Between 2015 and 2016, he collaborated with the Philosophy Program and brought together engineers and ethicists to study Just War Theory and autonomous weapons. The collaboration resulted in receiving the Apgar Award, West Point’s highest teaching award. In 2017 and 2018, he testified at the United Nations as part of the U.S. Delegation to the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2018, Lieutenant Colonel Korpela was selected as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. An active duty Army officer, LTC Korpela has deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan serving in various command and staff positions. As a researcher, he has coordinated research projects and grants across the U.S. Department of Defense, academia, and industry in the field of robotics, control, and autonomy. He has authored and coauthored over 35 scientific and professional papers, including journal and conference papers, as well as book chapters in the field of unmanned aerial systems and robotics. LTC Korpela is a WISE (Washington Internship for Students of Engineering) Fellow and Senior Member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). His first textbook titled Aerial Manipulation was released for print in September 2017.

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Many mechanical engineering undergraduate students find the study of control systems engineering to be one of the more challenging subjects that they encounter. These challenges include working in the Laplace and frequency domains, learning new analysis techniques, as well as the breadth of topics that are typically covered in an introductory control systems undergraduate class. The challenges faced by instructors consist of deciding which material to include, balancing the depth and breadth of understanding various topics, selecting the best learning activities for each technique, and providing meaningful hands on experimentation in a predominately theoretical course. Fortunately, control systems engineering is amenable to instruction through laboratory exercises, where students can try different control techniques and observe their effectiveness nearly in real-time. Some effort is required to adequately link theory to experimentation in a theoretical introductory course. In this paper, we describe the implementation of a new full-state feedback laboratory exercise which was designed to illustrate the efficacy of full state control of a fourth order system. The general process of modeling, simulating the system, controller development, then deployment and evaluation in the lab is a common pedagogical process in control systems engineering education. The importance of visualization, in the context of using information technology, is discussed in Bencomo (2003). The laboratory exercise in view utilizes the same aforementioned process with an emphasis on visualizing system performance in state feedback control. The students first complete a pre-lab exercise which covers the modeling, control design, and simulation. Then they utilize commercially available software-hardware package that allows them to deploy their design and observe its real world performance. Specifically, the prelab begins by requiring them through modeling the dynamics of the electro-mechanical system. Furthermore the students then design the controller gains in a full state feedback in order to achieve a desired transient response. They then model the system in SIMULINK prior to coming to the lab, and analyze the effectiveness of their control design. The pre-lab assignments are submitted by the students, graded by the instructor, and then returned in the laboratory. In the laboratory, the students walk through a series of exercises beginning with the open loop response and ending with full state feedback in a closed loop sense. The intermediate steps allow the students to observe the improvements in the response of the system. The students are also introduced to signal processing requirements, for example the need to filter a differentiated signal. The novelty in this exercise lies in the procedural implementation of state feedback (no feedback, partial state feedback(s), and full state feedback with estimation) and evaluation of performance. Specifically, through visual observation of system performance and quantification of system performance through data acquisition and analysis. The full paper will provide the details of the laboratory including implementation instructions and lessons learned through conducting this laboratory exercise with students.

Bluman, J. E., & St. Leger, A., & Korpela, C. M. (2019, June), Implementing a Full-state Feedback Laboratory Exercise in an Introductory Undergraduate Control Systems Engineering Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32941

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