Methodology of Teaching the First Control Course

Tibor Vámos, Bars Ruth, László Keviczky, Dávid Sík


System view, understanding systems and how they are controlled is an important discipline in engineering education. Nowadays considering the ever increasing knowledge, the explosion of information available at the internet, the available visual technics and software tools there is a need to revisit the content and the teaching methodology of the first control course. The IFAC Technical Committee on Control Education (9.4) is circulating a pilot survey addressing these questions. Here we present our experience related to renewing the control course. The topics of the course are given. The main ideas are explained on two levels: hopefully in an understandable way for everyone, and precisely, using mathematical tools. In the lectures some parts of the multilevel e-book, Sysbook are referred, which has been elaborated to present the main principles governing systems and control on different levels. Besides static teaching materials interactive demonstrations developed for Sysbook are also used in the lectures which enhance the effectiveness and also enjoyment of the learning process. At the last part of each lecture the students are active solving problems related to the topic of the lecture. They are motivated by the obtained extra evaluation points. Then the solutions of the problems are discussed. Computer laboratory exercises using MATLAB/SIMULINK software contribute to understanding and applying the analysis and synthesis methods discussed in the lectures. The course is supported by the recently published Springer books: Keviczky et al.: Control Engineering and Control Engineering: MATLAB Exercises. In the content of the control course a new feature is the emphasis of the YOULA parameterization method for controller design already in the first control course and showing that other controller design methods can be considered as its special cases. Nowadays in education a new teaching – learning paradigm is Open Content Development (OCD) which means active participation of the teachers and students creating an up-to-date teaching material. This project runs at the Department of Technical Education at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics since 2015 supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In the frame of vocational teacher training programs several so-called micro-contents have been developed. Utilizing the experiences of these pilot efforts the Sysbook platform has been connected to the OCD model. In a special surface Sysbook provides several case studies for systems and their control (e.g. driving, energy production and distribution, oil refinery, systems and control in the living organism, etc.). Teachers and students studying systems and control can elaborate new case studies in their areas of interest which means active application of the learned topics. After evaluation these projects can be uploaded in the student area of Sysbook. Summarizing: in the methodology of teaching a basic control course the motivation of the students can be increased by active participation in the learning process, including interactive demonstration of the principles, solving exercises at the end of the lectures and getting immediate feedback, solving analysis and synthesis problems in the computer laboratories, and developing their own case studies for Sysbook. It should be also emphasized that the examples of systems and their control should be chosen mainly from the area of the specialization of the students (electrical or software engineering, chemical engineering, biology, economics, etc.). Also it is important to provide real-time experiments in laboratory work or using distant laboratories. IFAC Repository would be also of great help reaching useful resources.

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