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Modeling, Simulation, And Control Of A Real System

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ECE Education and Engineering Mathematics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.921.1 - 9.921.5



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Paper Authors

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Robert Throne

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

Session 3632

Modeling, Simulation, and Control of a Real System

Robert D. Throne Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


We have developed a preliminary laboratory sequence in our introductory linear control systems class that combines modeling a real system, developing a control system design based on this model, and then implementing the designed controller on the real system. After our first time through this new sequence we have found three educational benefits: the students realize that (1) their models are only approximate descriptions of the real systems, (2) even though the models are only approximate, feedback control can compensate for these modeling errors, and (3) real motors have limits on gains, which must be included in their design.


Over the past few years our introductory controls class (ECE-320) has been taught primarily with laboratories that consisted of weekly Simulink and Matlab projects. These projects included transfer function and state space models of systems. Many nonlinear effects, such as limits on motor speed or torque, were easily incorporated into simulations with Simulink. However, the students often were left with the belief that the system models were exact, and did not appreciate the nonlinear effects we tried to add to the system models. In short, the students felt the Simulink models were not real.

In an effort to address these issues eleven ECP-210a spring/mass/damper rectilinear systems were purchased through an NSF CCLI grant obtained by investigators from both the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments at Rose-Hulman. These systems allow for easy implementation of different standard controller types and are easily reconfigurable. Figure 1 shows one of the “carts” of the system, connected with two springs. The position encoder is shown toward the back of the system. The carts are moved via a motor with a rack and pinion mechanism, as shown in Figure 2.

We developed four groups of labs for the course, each group of labs covered one or two 3-hour laboratory sessions. The initial two labs focused on determining the system model in either the time domain or frequency domain. Since a system model is required for any controller design, and would need to be done first in all subsequent labs, we practiced the modeling process a great “Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Throne, R. (2004, June), Modeling, Simulation, And Control Of A Real System Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12827

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