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Automatic control in first-year engineering study

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1 Author(s)
Djaferis, T.E. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Massachusetts Univ., Amherst, MA, USA

An introductory engineering course based on the theme of automatic control in the first year of study prepares future engineers in facing multidisciplinary problems. The field of systems and control is by nature multidisciplinary and universal, providing an appealing introduction to systems concepts. Comprehensive courses on automatic control are normally offered at the senior or junior level. Basic engineering concepts related to dynamic models, feedback, stability, and system performance can be introduced and appreciated by students earlier in the program since many students have had calculus and physics classes in high school. Students experience first hand how theory, computer simulation, and experiments are used to develop solutions to engineering problems. In this article, changes in the engineering curriculum that can better prepare future engineers are advocated. A curriculum that is multidisciplinary from the start, has a strong systems viewpoint, and introduces and integrates modern engineering problems, principles, practices, and solutions is also advocated. The results of an experienced five-week automatic control module that can serve as the foundation for an introductory course are detailed.

Published in:

Control Systems, IEEE  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 5 )