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Taking Control of Control Systems: A student developed, multimedia and simulation tool for control systems education

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Conference

ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference

Location

Waco, Texas

Publication Date

March 24, 2021

Start Date

March 24, 2021

End Date

March 26, 2021

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36405

Download Count

35

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Paper Authors

biography

Matilda Ho University of Texas at Dallas

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Matilda Ho is in the final year of a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering and concurrently starting a Master's in Systems Engineering and Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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Casey Hatfield

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Jieun Kim

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Abstract

Control systems are ubiquitous in engineering. Thus, they provide valuable tools for analysis and performance enhancement with real-world applications. Among engineering students, control systems are a notoriously challenging subject for being too abstract and, in turn, challenging to connect each of its subtopics for a comprehensive understanding. Students are increasingly turning to online resources for supplemental learning materials; however, the field of control systems has substantially less variety of online resources than other lower-level engineering classes. This project focuses on developing a free interactive, online education tool for control systems education that integrates the traditional curriculum with interactive learning components and game-like simulations. The website featuring the tool will use a website plugin to help provide an educational framework. The project will use an open-source game engine to develop visualizations and gamify learning modules, ultimately creating a more interactive learning experience. The immersive nature of gamification and interactive learning will help students with a broader range of learning styles. Finally, some MATLAB files will be available for download so that students can gain exposure to graphical representations and further practice with the software used in their classes. This education tool uses real-world examples corresponding to a concentration of engineering to give the curriculum an encompassing theme to conceptualize control system analysis and design. There are two learning paths featured on this project that reflect the student team's majors; biomedical and mechanical paths. The biomedical engineering learning path models the pancreas as a natural feedback system for controlling blood glucose concentration. The mechanical engineering learning path models an automated car system for controlling car speed. As a capstone project, the tool is being developed by students who have recently learned control systems and are aware of the challenges students face when newly learning the material. This perspective will bring a unique perspective to the supplemental learning material on the education tool. The website will also link to further supporting education materials from other sources to benefit student users. The project documentation will also be available on the website as an open resource to further support the project and its users. The documentation will include methods used to develop curriculum, create learning modules, and integrate a game engine for educational gamification. The website will also feature a blog that documents the student team's progress chronologically, highlighting challenges as they occur. Upon completion, the learning tool will be tested for user satisfaction on students currently in undergraduate control systems classes through user metric surveys and presented in the completed project. Student feedback will be a highlight in the results upon the completion of this project. Furthermore, this project will present a student perspective and approach to developing a free online multimedia learning tool using open source methods. The student perspective's added value identifies the difficulties of learning control systems and is more responsive to the increasingly available innovative technologies in education.

Ho, M., & Hatfield, C., & Kim, J. (2021, March), Taking Control of Control Systems: A student developed, multimedia and simulation tool for control systems education Paper presented at ASEE 2021 Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference, Waco, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/36405

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