COMPUTER SIMULATION TOOLS TO ENHANCE LEARNING IN CONTROL ENGINEERING COURSES
In this paper we present some experiences oriented to improve teaching methods in Control Engineering Courses by using simulation tools in a convenient and pedagogical way. In particular, the pedagogical methods are used in two modules included in and Advanced Control Engineering Course, which is an elective course in the Industrial Engineering Degree in our University.
Two of the modules included in this course are focused on Intelligent and Adaptive Control, which are two kind of advanced controllers that are usually very difficult to test in a real environment in a teaching laboratory. For this reason, the appropriate use of simulation tools for the laboratory assignments in these courses is crucial in order to understand the mechanisms of these controllers.
In the paper, we describe the design of three different sets of laboratory assignments for Intelligent and Adaptive Control. These assignments are implemented using Simulink and the Fuzzy Logic Toolbox in Matlab, and the free software Scilab/Scicos. In the design of the laboratory assignments we have put into practice some ideas from collaborative and problem-based learning methodologies. Assignments for this kind of subjects have to be designed taking into account the special difficulty in understanding the behavior of the controlled systems, and the need of some collaboration between the students and the teachers to obtain a successful design.
As a conclusion, the paper shows some comparisons between the results obtained using more classical teaching methods in this field, and the methodology used in our laboratories. In general, using our method, the students learn in a more intuitive way the complex theory involved in the two modules of the course considered in the paper.