E. Pérez1, I. Tejado1, F. Duque-Gruart1, A. Gómez-Garrido1, M. Rangel-Zambrano1, F. Tirabassi2

1University of Extremadura (SPAIN)
2Università Politecnica delle Marche (ITALY)
The main goal of educators in engineering is to prepare students for the real world outside university, where they will have to apply their knowledge, experience, and practical skills to improve the progress in a particular field, especially if they end up in industry. That is the reason why the acquisition of practical skill and experimentation plays an important role in engineering education [1, 2].

Among current trends in engineering education, several methodologies have become very popular to interconnect theory and practice in a balanced way [3], which can be mainly grouped in those based on hands-on, remote and virtual laboratories. Although many aspects of the educational framework have to be taken into account to decide which on them is the most adequate, it has been demonstrated that hands-on experiences with real equipment are necessary in control courses to help students to the understanding of theoretical fundamentals. Many laboratories have been developed to teach process control engineering; current reviews can be found in [3, 4].

Given this scenario, and within the initiative of lecturers in the area of systems engineering and automation of the University of Extremadura to disseminate teaching experiences, this paper presents the preliminary experience of the course “Industrial process control” for undergraduate students with a laboratory based on a wastewater treatment plant. A set of control problems to be solved by students with this equipment to learn fundamentals of process control is discussed.

[1] S. Nikolic, C. Ritz, P.J. Vial, M. Ros, D. Stirling, “Decoding Student Satisfaction: How to Manage and Improve the Laboratory Experience,” IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 151–158, 2015.
[2] S. Dormido Bencomo, “Control Learning: Present and Future,” Annual Reviews in Control, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 115–136, 2004.
[3] I. Tejado, E. Pérez, I. González, P. Merchán, “Introducing Systems Theory With Virtual Laboratories at the University of Extremadura: How to Improve Learning in the Lab in Engineering Degrees,” International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education (submitted).
[4] R. Heradio, L. de la Torre, S. Dormido, “Virtual and Remote Labs in Control Education: A survey,” Annual Reviews in Control, vol. 42, 1-10, 2016.
[5] V. Potkonjak, M. Gardner, V. Callaghan, P. Mattila, C. Guetl, V.M. Petrovic, K. Jovanovic, “Virtual Laboratories for Education in Science, Technology, and Engineering: A Review,” Computers & Education, vol. 95, pp. 309-327, 2016.