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The Inverted Pendulum Problem As A Senior Design Project

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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

Instrumentation in the Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1271.1 - 9.1271.7



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Paper Authors

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Robert Mueller

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

Session 1359

The Inverted Pendulum Problem as a Senior Design Project

Robert Lynn Mueller The Pennsylvania State University New Kensington Campus

Abstract The 4-year baccalaureate degree in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology at Penn State New Kensington requires a project design course in the senior year. It is a capstone course that allows the students to apply the engineering principles encompassed in the courses that lead up to and include the senior year. A recent project was the so-called inverted pendulum problem. It consists of wheeled base with a vertical pendulum hinged on top of the base. The control system must move the wheeled base as required to keep the pendulum in a vertical position within a certain tolerance. While a working device can be purchased, a lot can be learned by building the device from scratch. In addition, there are also many papers published regarding the modeling and theoretical control of the system, but there is very little regarding the actual implementation of the mechanical device or its control system. These students encountered several problems in the selection of the overall mechanical design, the appropriate position measuring device, the final control elements, and the control algorithms. The focus of this paper is to describe the design, construction, testing, and lessons learned from this project.

Introduction The senior project is a capstone project course taken in the final term of the 4-year Bachelor of Science in Electromechanical Engineering Technology (BSEMET) degree offered at Penn State University New Kensington. The objectives of the course are to train the students in project management, communication skills (both written and oral), budgeting, application of engineering skills, and team building. Each project team consists of 2 students (or one team of 3 if the course has an odd number of students) and the students are allowed to pick their own teams. The team is usually responsible for selecting its project with the condition that the project must contain at least 3 fundamental components: measurements from an electromechanical system, control decisions based on those measurements, and then the control of electromechanical elements to achieve some design criteria. One philosophy of the course is to let the students perform as much of the design work as possible even at the expense of them going down the wrong path on occasions.

During the first 2 weeks of the course, the student-teams work with the course instructors to discuss potential projects. For this term, the students were assigned projects. At beginning of the 3rd week each team must make a formal project proposal presentation. This presentation and written report account for 10% of the overall course grade. To accomplish the administrative objectives of the course, the project team must provide biweekly written and oral progress reports on project design-updates, schedule, and budget. This accounts for 25% of the course grade. At the end of the term, each project team is required to write a group project report detailing the project’s design and budget; this accounts for 25% of the grade. A formal project presentation that includes a demonstration of the project is also required and this counts for 25% of the grade. Additionally, each student also writes a “journal-style” paper regarding one

Mueller, R. (2004, June), The Inverted Pendulum Problem As A Senior Design Project Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13775

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