December 17, 2007

Utilizing Control Systems for Real Life Purposes

Senior electrical and computer engineering students learn techniques for the job market

This semester 15 senior electrical and computer engineering students got hands-on industry experience in the course “Industrial Electronics and Control Systems,” taught by Yih-Choung Yu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The course uses the math skills previously learned by the students to characterize electronic devices and electrical machines from a system perspective and to improve the performance of engineering systems by designing and introducing automatic control to be integrated with the systems.

“This course provides students with important skills to assess electrical and electronic devices from a system, or higher, level. It also introduces students to the basic skills for them to cross engineering disciplines,” says Yu. “The same skills are also applicable in management in their future careers.”

In the lab section of this course, students design various systems to control an electric motor by using the techniques they learn from the lecture section.

For the design project at the end of the semester, each group, consisting of two or three students, needed to find a real-life application problem and solve it by applying control design techniques they learned in the course.

The groups presented their project and demonstrated their designs earlier this month.

The projects that the seven groups presented included a catapult, an automatic door, a conveyor, an elevator, a candle-dipping machine, an amusement park ride similar to the Dominator at Dorney Park, and a rotating closet.

Alexandra Sippin ’08 (Fairfield, Conn.) and Emily Frank ’08 (Bedford, Mass.), who is also pursuing an A.B. in international studies and engineering, used the motor system to control the rotation and position of clothes in their model closet. They found the process of developing and building the project enriching because of the creativity and adaptability that they had to demonstrate along the way.

“This class has helped me to learn how to adapt to what you have,” says Frank.

Sippin concurred, saying, “Our project went in a different direction than we anticipated, but, by testing, you learn to do what you want and to adapt to the problems. This project has been a good real world experience and I know that I will be able to use these skills in the future.”

Other students in the class are Austin Robison ’08 (Flourtown, Pa.), Daniel Sheehan ’08 (Winchester, Mass.), David Young ’08 (Bensalem, Pa.), Evan St. Jean ’08 (Hanover, Mass.), Hasan Khan ’08 (Swarthmore, Pa.), who is also pursuing an A.B. in economics and business, James Mintzer ’08 (Bethlehem, Pa.), Jeffrey Letoski ’08 (Hanover Township, Pa.), John Mumo ’08 (Nairobi, Kenya), who is also pursuing an A.B. in economics and business, Kelly Koreyva ’08 (Washington Crossing, Pa.), Shrijan Rajkarnikar ’08 (Kathmandu, Nepal), S. Eric Bauer ’08 (Concord, Mass.), Taha Jiwaji ’08 (Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania), who is also pursuing an A.B. in economics and business, and Tom Blenk ’08 (Inwood, N.Y.).

  • David Young ’08 is Mastering Control Systems
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

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