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Take-Home Mechatronics Control Labs: A Low-Cost Personal Solution and Educational Assessment

[+] Author Affiliations
Brandon Stark, Zhuo Li, Brendan Smith, YangQuan Chen

University of California, Merced, Merced, CA

Paper No. DETC2013-12735, pp. V004T08A036; 9 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 18th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 2013 ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5591-1
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Control theory, once described as the “Physics of the 21st Century,” is pervading to almost all subjects of higher learning. However, it is a difficult topic for many students, especially when introduced at the undergraduate lower level. Providing hands-on experience is often a great aid for teaching difficult concepts, but for control theory forcing a hands-on component can distract from the learning if the students are unprepared. An effective control theory laboratory curriculum builds on the foundations of statics and dynamics, circuit theory, signal processing and programming course-work. However, undergraduate students have a limited educational experience and are typically lacking in one or more of those foundations. Coupled with the unfamiliarity of the common equipment found in teaching labs, students often find themselves overwhelmed and struggle with the setups, limiting their exposure to the topic of control theory. Some industry and education companies have introduced extensive control workstations to bring integrated control theory to a teaching laboratory; however these systems are expensive and specialized, limiting their reach and effectiveness. In this paper, a low-cost mechatronics control theory personal laboratory setup with a proposed curriculum is developed for undergraduate students that addresses their uncertain foundation and improves accessibility by introducing portability to maximize the learning outcomes.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Mechatronics



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