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Modeling And Control Of Smart Actuators: Integrating Nano/Bio Technology Into The Me Curriculum

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.900.1 - 13.900.22



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Paper Authors

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Ying Wu Iowa State University

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Qingze Zou Iowa State University

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Stephanie Culter Virginia Commonwealth University

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Kam Leang Virginia Commonwealth University

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Gina Pannozzo Virginia Commonwealth University

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Santosh Devasia University of Washington

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Modeling and Control of Smart Actuators: Integrating Nano/Bio Technology into the ME Curriculum


A recent projection noted that over 7 million jobs will be created in the nano and bio-related field world wide by 2015. The expected growth of such jobs suggests a critical need to prepare and train the workforce for these emerging fields. This paper describes a collaborative approach between three universities to integrate nano/bio technology into the mechanical engineering (ME) undergraduate curriculum by incorporating teaching modules into core ME courses. The teaching modules focus on the fundamental concepts in modeling and control of smart material based actuators (or smart actuators), and they were designed for ME courses in system dynamics, controls, and mechatronics. The piezoelectric actuator, a type of smart actuator, has become increasingly important because of its ability for precision positioning (actuation) or sensing in nano and bio-related technologies. The developed modules use the piezoactuator as an example smart actuator. First, students are taught the fundamental concepts of modeling the input-to- output behavior of piezoactuators. This component begins with a discussion of the piezoelectric effect, followed by the modeling of the vibrational dynamics effects based on the frequency response concept. Students are also introduced to hysteresis, a nonlinear behavior inherent in piezoactuators and other smart actuators. Second, to complement the topics in modeling, lectures were developed to convey the state-of-the-art in high-precision control of piezoactuators for various nanopositioning applications, such as scanning probe microscopes. Four experiments were designed to provide students with hands-on experience with modeling and control of piezoactuators. The teaching materials were implemented at the three universities and preliminary assessment results are presented to demonstrate the initial impact of the project. Particularly, the results of the pre and post tests, surveys, and focus group studies in the context of the expected learning outcomes are presented. In general, the results suggested that student learning and perceptions were positively impacted by the developed teaching materials.


Emerging nano and bio technologies1 has prompted the need to prepare the future work-force with the knowledge, understanding, and skills necessary for tackling problems in these professional fields. It is projected that by the year 2015 over 7 million jobs will be created in the nano/bio-related field world wide2. Such growth of jobs and technologies will have a profound impact on all sectors of the economy (as well as society)3. To prepare the future work force with the necessary skill set, this paper focuses on a collaborative approach which involves three universities to develop, integrate, and assess a teaching module on smart actuators for three different courses in the ME undergraduate curriculum: system dynamics and controls, mechatronics, and capstone design. The teaching module is specifically designed to address the important aspects of modeling, control, and design of smart actuator-based systems. In particular, the module consists of lecture and laboratory components, and each component can be easily integrated into a course in part or whole.

Wu, Y., & Zou, Q., & Culter, S., & Leang, K., & Pannozzo, G., & Devasia, S. (2008, June), Modeling And Control Of Smart Actuators: Integrating Nano/Bio Technology Into The Me Curriculum Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3512

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