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Laboratory Experimentation And Real Time Computing: An Integrated Environment

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Laboratory Development in ECE Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.830.1 - 14.830.15



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Paper Authors


Ahmed Rubaai Howard University

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AHMED RUBAAI received the M.S.E.E degree from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1983, and the Dr. Eng. degree from Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1988. In 1988, he joined Howard University, Washington, D.C., as a faculty member, where he is presently a Professor of Electrical Engineering. He is the Founder and Lead Developer of Howard University Multipurpose and Multidisciplinary Automation and Control Laboratory. His research interests include built-in intelligent controller for high performance industrial drives, hardware testing in laboratory, and computer-aided design for undergraduate engineering education.

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Ramesh Chawla Howard University

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Dr. RAMESH C. CHAWLA is Chair and professor of chemical engineering at Howard University. He has over thirty years of experience in teaching, research and industrial consulting in the fields of chemical and environmental engineering. His research and teaching interests include reaction engineering, separation processes, environmental engineering, and physical, chemical and biological treatment of hazardous wastes.

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


ABSTRACT This paper presents an integrated environment for rapid control prototyping that allows rapid realization of novel designs, from the initial design phase until the final steps of code generation. It uses a collection of tools that include both software (MATLAB/Simulink) and an off-the-shelf hardware (dSPACE DSP DS1104). The integrated environment presented in this paper has many educational advantages as compared to multi-environment settings. The main features of this environment are: 1) controller code can be generated automatically for hardware implementation; 2) different languages can be used to describe different parts of the system. In particular, Simulink block diagrams can be used to define the control structure, tune the controller parameters and reference signals online, while the experiments are in progress without having to rebuild and download a new Simulink model to the DS1104 board; and 3) ease of operation especially by means of a simple graphical user interface. The laboratory environment was used in teaching an introductory laboratory control course. The objective is to promote control-systems education with laboratory experimentation. Course assessment showed a high level of students' satisfaction with the course content and its structure. The students stated that the process helped them to apply modern design tools to a real time system.

INTRODUCTION The study of control systems has been cited as a subject that is heavily based on abstract mathematical concepts1. This theoretical base has been considered a major problem with students unable to apply the coursework that is completed in the classroom to real-life systems. This problem has not gone unnoticed in the field of education today, and there have been great leaps in the creation of more “hands-on” teaching methods that lend themselves to industrial applications2. Throughout schools and universities within the United States and internationally, there has been growing interest in the use of practical control concepts in and beyond the classroom. This has been accomplished to a large extent through the use of laboratory courses, with incorporation of technology tools that enable students to work on different real-world control configurations. This adjustment to incorporate the more practical format into the classroom has taken different forms throughout the academic world. In the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, The Netherlands, the modeling of control systems is an important part of their Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering degree curriculum3. There is a gradual introduction to real world systems that begins with a lower level course where the students are introduced to mathematical concepts and A/D conversion and ends with a final year project that incorporates the manipulation of various feedback controllers to accomplish a specific task. In this way the students are transported from the theoretical understanding to actual applications by the end of the degree program. At the Department of Automatic Control at the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden4, all disciplines in their four and a half year Master of Science degree, excluding chemical and biotechnical engineering, must complete a basic control course. The second half of this course involves the assignment of control projects in conjunction with the lectures, which is another clear indication that there is great importance placed on the practical applications of control theory. All control courses have three mandatory four-hour labs that make use of mobile desktop processes and standard computing equipment. The Institute is also


Rubaai, A., & Chawla, R. (2009, June), Laboratory Experimentation And Real Time Computing: An Integrated Environment Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4661

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