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Multidisciplinary Lab Based Controls Curriculum

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.736.1 - 6.736.12

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Paper Authors

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David Schmidt

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Gregory Plett

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This paper describes a multidisciplinary lab-based controls curriculum under development. One of the main focuses of the lab is that it be a multidisciplinary facility. It is shared by Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) students. This arrangement allows more efficient use of space and equipment, better use of funds, and elimination of overlap among individual departmental labs. Interdisciplinary instruction also adds to the richness of both the ECE and MAE curricula. Another main focus of the lab is that it include visually stimulating physical devices to control. A very comprehensive undergraduate controls lab has been developed around controlling Educational Control Products Magnetic Levitation systems. Using a single general-purpose device for all laboratory experiments rather than a plurality of devices (which each have a special purpose) results in economies of space, money, and student time (as only one device needs to be thoroughly understood; hence, more time may be devoted to studying how control-systems theory applies to it). The laboratory we have built comprises four work centers. Each work center has a Magnetic Levitation system to control. These devices may be configured to study control of linear or nonlinear, stable or unstable, SISO, collocated SIMO, noncollocated SIMO and full MIMO control. Control is accomplished using a Comdyna GP-6 analog computer or a digital computer running the Real Time Linux operating system, via MathWorks’ Matlab/ Simulink/ the Real Time Workshop (RTW) and Quality Real-Time Systems’ Real Time Linux Target (RTLT).

Schmidt, D., & Plett, G. (2001, June), Multidisciplinary Lab Based Controls Curriculum Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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