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Model-based Control Systems with Intermittent Feedback: Conceptualization and Insights for the Teaching and Learning Process

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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

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1161.1 - 26.1161.17



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Paper Authors


Tomas Estrada Elizabethtown College

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Dr. Tomas Estrada is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics at Elizabethtown College, in Elizabethtown, PA. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Universidad de Costa Rica in 2002 and his M.S. and Ph.D. (both in Electrical Engineering) from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 and 2009, respectively. His research interests include control systems, engineering education, technology-related entrepreneurship, and sustainable engineering applications.

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Model-Based Control Systems with Intermittent Feedback: Conceptualization and Insights for the Teaching and Learning Process The field of engineering education has grown considerably over the past two decades,with the majority of the research focusing on empirical results or statistical studies. Alongsidethis growth, it is important for researchers to develop increasingly intuitive and useful conceptualmodels for educational processes. In this paper we present a conceptual framework for theteaching and learning process based on a concept familiar to most engineers: feedback controlsystems. Feedback control has long been a staple of engineering curricula, primarily in electricalengineering, but also across other disciplines such as mechanical and chemical engineering. Thisis largely due to the diversity of applications of control theory.1 Feedback control concepts havealso been applied in areas outside of engineering, such as psychology and human behavior,particularly in the areas of goal setting and performance.2,3 However, in the field of engineeringeducation, the concepts from control theory have been underused. We build upon the ideaspresented in the related literature by providing a novel control systems-based conceptualizationframework applied to the teaching and learning process, particularly in undergraduateengineering. We initially present a “traditional” setup using classical control theory. We map thefundamental elements of the process (instructor, student, tasks, etc.) to key aspects of the controldiagram (controller, plant, sensors, actuators, communication pathways, etc.). While thisframework provides us with an initial conceptual mapping, we outline various limitations in itsability to capture real-world applications to teaching and learning. We then present our main contribution: a conceptual framework based on a systemarchitecture known as Model-Based Networked Control Systems (MB-NCS).4 The study of MB-NCS has developed in an attempt to analyze and design control systems in the presence of real-world constraints such as network usage, information delays, and limited bandwidth. Throughthorough analysis, we explain how these constraints map accurately to the reality of variouseducational processes, such as the way students learn and their interaction with faculty. Inparticular, the case of MB-NCS with Intermittent Feedback becomes especially relevant.5 Weprovide an in-depth explanation of this conceptualization framework. Once the model is presented, we provide tangible examples of how lessons from MB-NCS theory apply to teaching and learning. We believe our application of MB-NCS theory toengineering education could help faculty members develop useful insights into their ownteaching practice.References1. G. Franklin et al. Feedback Control of Dynamic Systems. 4th edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey (2002).2. M. Campion and R. Lord, A Control Systems Conceptualization of the Goal Setting and Changing Process,Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, Elsevier (1982).3. E. Locke and G. Latham. A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance, Prentice Hall, New Jersey (1990).4. L. Montestruque and P. Antsaklis, "Model-Based Networked Control Systems-Necessary andSufficient Conditions for Stability," Proceedings of the 10th Mediterranean Conference on Control andAutomation (MED’02), Lisbon, Portugal, July 9-12, 2002.5. T. Estrada, H. Lin, P. Antsaklis, “Model-Based Control with Intermittent Feedback,” 14thMediterranean Conference on Control and Automation (MED’06), Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy,June 28-30, 2006.

Estrada, T. (2015, June), Model-based Control Systems with Intermittent Feedback: Conceptualization and Insights for the Teaching and Learning Process Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24498

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