Control Systems: The Overarching Discipline

Control Systems: The Overarching Discipline

Roger La Brooy (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5011-4.ch008
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The field of engineering is undergoing rapid advances in knowledge application. Present drivers for the advances in engineering are clearly electronics, materials engineering, and information technology. As innovation applications abound, employers expect educators to produce students having the latest knowledge of advances in their native discipline. This aim needs to be achieved in the same four-year time-frame and yet the degree needs to contain increasing research-orientated content to comply with Australian Quality Framework requirements. How these ends can be achieved within the context of a high-quality engineering degree becomes a challenging task. The author suggests that a solution can arise by utilising a systems approach from the very first year of an engineering degree across several electro-mechanical disciplines.
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Part 1: Background: Control Systems As The Overarching Discipline

Utilising a systems approach from first means that common engineering subjects are taught under a “systems” umbrella. Hence Engineering Statics or Dynamics, Principles of Electronics and Circuit theory are not taught in isolation, but are framed under a systems context of “Governing Laws”. Then, Engineering Statics or Dynamics become subsets of a bank of core laws. Content can then be related to a unified Systems approach. For example, the topic Engineering Vibrations becomes a subset of the Control Systems topic, Frequency Response. An additional key benefit of using this approach is that duplication of material which often occurs between the umbrella Control Systems and specific topics (viz. Engineering Dynamics) will become evident. Their elimination can then create space for including new material, whilst retaining a progressive and cohesive framework .

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