Mechatronics, by definition, requires hands-on labs. Recently, Quanser has introduced a series of new lab platforms that delivers a structured, easy to deploy, system and application focused approaches to undergraduate labs. These products respond to the growing concern that hobby component-based labs do not reconcile easily with the conventional engineering concepts presented in the core courses and are severely constrained in supporting more realistic or complex applications. This article describes the essential Quanser methodology and the principal technologies that offer a more comprehensive and contemporary approach the lab sequence.
Control is one of the most broadly applicable modern engineering methodologies. Researchers in virtually all of the engineering disciplines apply its techniques to realize ever more complex engineering systems. Nevertheless, from a very practical perspective, it is often challenging to develop an effective research regimen that includes an advanced theoretical and algorithm framework and real-world implementation. Quanser devices offer a highly efficient platform for bridging this theory-implementation gap, allowing to adopt a framework of hardware in the loop (HIL) implementation of the control system that integrates a physical system (the plant) with dynamics of sufficient realism for physically relevant testing, and a real-time computational and modeling framework that allows for rapid testing of algorithms and concepts. Using such a combination, researchers are able to readily validate their research concepts with a physical system. In this whitepaper, Michel Levis, Quanser Application Engineer, and Dr. Tom Lee, Chief Education Officer at Quanser, present an overview of theoretical and application research topics from various institutions that have deployed Quanser equipment to validate their research concepts.
Teaching today’s engineering students requires innovation itself because they learn differently. Change is needed to teach them better but budgets are tight and tightening. Yet there is a spirit of co-operation afoot that could spell success for engineering colleges, helping them ‘out-compete tomorrow’. By pooling their resources, several engineering departments can create fewer but far better, more adaptable laboratories and give students wider experiences. In this whitepaper, Dr. Jacob Apkarian, Quanser Founder and CTO explains advantages of multi-disciplinary control laboratories and shares some examples.
Vinyl records seem to be back. Film cameras appeal to a growing group of photo hobbyists. And contrary to popular belief, print books are still going strong. But on campus, many ECE programs report ongoing challenges in making the venerable analog electronics course more modern and appealing to a generation whose worldview is exclusively digital.
Representatives of industry and academia discuss the skills control engineering graduates need to become successful professionals. Do they need to know basic control techniques as well as the advanced ones? How important is hands-on learning? But the technical knowledge is just a part of the big picture. Educators need to nurture students’ critical thinking, intuition, teamwork and communication skills – that’s what in real-life turns a control engineer into a ‘glue’ element of the engineering team.
“Reinvention” seems to be a topic of lively discussion in many circles these days and ECE is no exception. For the past several years, the reinvention of the ECE image or brand has been a significant topic as we reconcile our academic traditions with emerging societal and technological realities. Today, in the shadow of modern mechatronics, robotics, and the Internet of Things, control can often seem somewhat parochial if not antiquated. We live in exciting times and there is no reason why a foundational concept like control cannot and should not be exciting. If you substitute the word ‘control’ with ‘ECE’, this statement still holds true. So perhaps a closer look at the challenges and opportunities in control can offer some insight into the larger question.