USING THE PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING APPROACH IN AN INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS SIMULATION COURSE

I.E. Ivanov, V. Gueorguiev, E. Markov, V. Mladenov

Technical University of Sofia (BULGARIA)
The formation of high qualified engineers in the area of design and development of industrial information and control systems is highly long and hard task. It needs long studying of many different sciences, extensive experimental work and obtaining of real hands-on experience. The system simulation is another specific process which is much more complex than both system and its controller design. Education on simulation is very specific and much influenced by the simulation environment and approaches.

There are many simulation tools and environments with different level of complexity and area of implementation. One example is the MATLAB and SIMULINK. The problem in this area is the separation for the only object (the system) or the controller simulation. There are many simulation approaches like the hardware-in-the-loop, software-in-the-loop, agent-based simulators, etc. All those approaches cover different elements of the process of simulation and unfortunately are hard to explain in the university courses.

Very promising approach in the area of simulation is usage of the program generation approach as a basis for both system and controller design and simulation. This approach gives to the course designer the advantage to use one and the same abstract and implementation environment for all system components (the object and the controller components).

Every systems part has to be identified, planned, designed, implemented and finally validated in the laboratory work. To make the course both formal and practical the problem based learning and other active learning techniques including creation of a realistic working environment are used. Taking into account this methodology, all the learning activities are driven around a reference project. The fair assessment for individual students needs different approaches from the teachers’ side when the examination of the projects is based on both the reports prepared by the students and the real implemented systems.

This paper is presenting experiences from preparation a course on control systems simulations based on the problem based learning approach and unified program generator environment and application for all systems elements design, implementation, simulation and validation.