Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cool MATLAB Simulation for Modern Control Teaching

 I have been a teaching assistant for three terms during my studies as an MASc student in University of Toronto. One of the problems with current teaching of control teaching is it is too math intensive. Often students are thrown with a bunch of formulas and theorem. If they don't have much experience with real life control problems, it will be very have for them to connect real life application and the theory that are taught to them.

One of the major consequences is student significantly loses interest in control. All they see are maths, but it is hard for them to visualize the power of these theory. This will give them the wrong impression that the theory they learned are useless. And I guess that's why people in the industry still uses PID control so much.

I am strong proponent that theories taught to students should be strengthen by using real life example. If one could show simulations in class, then it would generate even more interest in the students. That's the only way to change the industry from using old tools to using newer ones. Luckily, Rick Hill from University of Detroit Mercy wrote code for animation-based simulation.The simulations that he performs includes: inverted pendulum, bus suspensions, ball and beam control, and aircraft pitch control. Truly, awesome work.

I encourage everyone who read this post to check it out. I think this is a great tool for students to try controlling different virtual systems, which can help them gain more insights. I hope you find this useful and you would introduce these simulations to your students.

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