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Towards Removing Barriers Against learning Control Systems Design: A Comprehensive Review of the Math Required for Reaching Milestones in Control Systems Design

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Zahrasadat Alavi California State University, Chico

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Dr. Zahrasadat Alavi, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at California State University Chico, received her PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in May 2015. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Amirkabir University (Polytechnic of Tehran) with honors in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and another Master of Science from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) in Electrical Engineering in 2012. She was an Assistant Professor at the Electrical and Instrumentation Department of Los Medanos College during 2016-2017 academic year. She was an Adjunct Faculty at San Francisco State University and Diablo Valley College during 2015-2016 academic year, and an instructor at UWM from January 2014 until May 2015. She has taught Control Systems Design course several times, and has adopted different methods of teaching in her classes. She is a member of IEEE, and has several publications in IEEE and peer reviewed journals. Her primary research interests include nonlinear control, adaptive control, and robust control, and simulation of linear and nonlinear systems. She also conducts research in the area of digital image processing and analysis.

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Arash Kialashaki California State University, Chico

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Dr. Arash Kialashaki is a Senior Engineer and a lecturer at the Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing Department at CSU Chico. He graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in 2014. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, a master’s degree in Energy Systems Engineering and a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
As an instructor at UWM and CSU Chico, Dr. Kialashaki has taught a range of courses including Introduction to Fluid Mechanics, Basic Engineering Thermodynamics, Basic Heat Transfer and How Things Work. As a mentor in Summer Bridge Program at UWM, Dr. Kialashaki worked with freshmen students to improve their math skills and promote their engineering enthusiasm.
In addition, Dr. Kialashaki has several years of experience working as a content developer for Mechanical Engineering textbooks. His research interests includes energy efficiency improvement, energy modeling, and energy demand forecast. He has written several conference and journal papers and serves as a reviewer for several scientific journals.

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This paper focuses on the importance of math knowledge for learning Control Systems Design course, and outlines the necessary concepts that must be grasped by students prior to enrollment in this course. The Control Systems Design is a senior-level course and its learning outcomes include developing mathematical models of control components and systems, simplifying block diagrams, calculating transfer functions and state space models of linear, time-invariant systems, formulating and/or utilizing specifications needed to design system controllers, and more. A study in the author’s Controls class of 39 students showed that 49 problems (out of 195 total problems for all students in the exam) were solved incorrectly due to students’ knowledge deficiency in math aspects. This indicates that 25% of the students’ knowledge was not rigorous towards solving the problems correctly. Review of the above learning outcomes and the assessed statistics elaborates the significance of mathematical background as a building block of the required skills for learning the concepts of Control Systems Design course. To address the solution, this paper sheds light into necessary math and algebra that students need before taking Control Systems Design so that they can fully focus on learning the controls concepts during the course. This paper will go through the course outline, discuss each topic and its prerequisite math knowledge and worked examples with references to the relevant math courses. Finally, authors will provide suggestions for improving STEM students’ knowledge and confidence in becoming adept in the Control Systems Design course and similar courses in their engineering curriculum.

Alavi, Z., & Kialashaki, A. (2018, June), Towards Removing Barriers Against learning Control Systems Design: A Comprehensive Review of the Math Required for Reaching Milestones in Control Systems Design Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31151

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