The Control Laboratory
The Control Laboratory, conducted by Dr. Julio González, has hosted 52 engineering students through completion of their Senior Design Project, which is the out-of-classroom capstone experience required for graduation. In these projects, students utilize the lab facilities to demonstrate their creativity and apply all the theoretical knowledge accumulated over 4 years of engineering studies. Some projects are of such quality that they have resulted in student co-authored conference and even journal publications.
In addition to senior design projects, the lab hosts the class “EGE 304 Control Laboratory,” where engineering students simulate control systems using the professional program MATLAB, and perform experiments using state-of the-art equipment called Educational Control Products (ECP).
This is a typical “EGE 304 Control Laboratory” session: Back, left to right: Brad Hoover, Patrick Burns, Dr. González, Ken Cheung and Ben Briggs. Front, left to right: James Green, Bela Elekes and Chris Rigoli. Not paying attention are two Rhino robots.
There are four ECP units in the lab, one for rectilinear motion, one for rotational motion, one for industrial control, and the most exciting one: the inverted pendulum. You may have experienced the inverted pendulum control problem if you have ever played with a broomstick by holding it on the palm of your hand while trying to prevent it from falling. As innocent as the inverted pendulum problem sounds, its solution is part of the control engineering necessary to prevent a space rocket from tipping at launch.
Student James Green humorously demonstrates the inverted pendulum problem. To the left, you can see the actual ECP Inverted Pendulum, which has the shape of a letter “T”. The horizontal bar of the “T” moves back and forth automatically, keeping the vertical bar in equilibrium. Motion of the horizontal bar is produced by a motor under control of a computer program, which in turn uses feedback provided by a position sensor.
But Control does not need space science to be applied. Daily life examples of control systems can be found in such common places as the cruise control and the automatic transmission of your car, or the automatic focus adjustment on your camera. Robots are fascinating devices that exemplify control of position, speed, and contact force. Industry uses an incredible amount of control systems, which always keeps control engineers in high demand.
To find out more about Control Engineering, or for a guided tour of the Control Laboratory, please call (845) 257-3724 or send an e-mail to email@example.com