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R. Ñeco, R. Puerto, M.A. Vicente, C. Fernández

Universidad Miguel Hernández (SPAIN)
In this paper we present some experiences involving team-work techniques in an advanced control course included in Undergraduate Engineering Degrees at Miguel Hernandez University (Elche, Spain). After some previous experiences in basic courses, a step forward in the application of cooperative and competitive learning is its extension to elective courses. In particular we have applied it to the course “Advanced Control Systems”, elective course in the fourth year in our University for majoring in “Industrial Control and Automation”. In this course, some advanced control techniques used in the industry are studied: (1) Predictive and Minimum Variance Control; (2) Intelligent Control; (3) Adaptive Control; and (4) Optimal Control. For each group, two tasks have been proposed. One task corresponds to the module “Intelligent Control” and the other one to the module “Adaptive Control”. The tasks consist basically on the design of a controller (a fuzzy controller for the first task and an adaptive controller for the second task). By the end of the semester two laboratory sessions will be reserved in which each group will show the performance of their controller. Each controller is evaluated by the teacher based on their overall performance and the fulfilment of the design requirements. The controllers are ordered according to their evaluation and this ordered list will determine the increment in the final mark for the students in each group. The evaluation of the controllers is made in an automatic way, simulating it with an arbitrary system and measuring their performance in real time. In this way, the cooperative evaluation of the work is public and objective.
We have found that by using this method the students are more actively involved in their laboratory assignments than in previous years. This is due to the fact that they have to “compete” to obtain a better result and, at the same time, they have the support of their team mates to overcome the difficulties.