1 Universidad de Costa Rica (COSTA RICA)
2 Universitat Oberta de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4701-4711
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Control engineering is a scientific discipline that relies on knowledge from many different fields. Most control engineering courses are focused mainly on theoretical aspects and simulations, but implementation and programming issues are rarely included. Traditionally, practice and theory have been separated somehow in the control engineering field, with periods with strong relevance for applications and others with strong importance for theory. However, nowadays, theory and practice must run together to successfully face the demanding control engineering problems from Industry.

The main reason of why many control courses are still focused only on theoretical aspects is because of the lack of practical resources and/or lack of time in the course schedule. Nowadays, this gap can be solved thanks to the amazing availability of low-cost hardware devices as well as open-source software tools, that can allow to include practical activities in control courses in a very cheap and easy way.

This paper presents the development of a mobile application for Android systems devices, that helps in the control system design task. The application allows to compute the parameters of PID-type controllers. The controlled process can be represented by a first- or second-order plus dead-time model and from that, the application tunes 1DoF (Degree of Freedom) PI and PID controllers for servo and regulatory control operation, and 2DoF PI and PID controllers, using methods presented in Alfaro and Vilanova (2012a,b). It is shown the use of the application tool where it is possible to evaluate benefits for the control systems undergraduate students.Taking into account the spread use of PID controllers in industrial applications it is very important that engineering undergraduate students get the necessary skills to handle this kind of control problems. In this sense, the developed tool helps the teaching-learning process to achieve this knowledge. The tool has been used by a significant quantity of students, receiving a positive feedback.

It is remarkable to say that the interactive mobile application tool was developed as an undergraduate final project in order to implement some results of prior research work developed by senior researchers. Due to the characteristics and capabilities of the tool, the mobile application was named PIDtune, and the main purpose is to help the tuning of PID control systems for the potential users, that could be students of the control systems course or laboratory practices. This represents a contribution from the PID control learning point of view.

Actually, the developed application is available in Google PlayStore, with about 500-1000 downloads and a score of 4.6 out of 5, that can be considered successful. The application has been used by students of an electrical engineering entry level control systems course and their use and valorization by students are presented in the paper.
Control Systems, App in Teaching, PID controllers.