1 Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, ETS Ingenieros Navales (SPAIN)
2 Universidad Casitlla La Mancha (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 6533-6541
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
When some of the teaching contents are not perceived by students as the most important for their future profession, or the reduced amount of credits of these teaching contents does not let to decompose the sylabus into different courses, a great effort needs to be carried out by the teachers to provide the students with the basics contents for the training of future engineers who are not specialist in this field.
Students of both, Naval Architect and Maritime Engineering Degrees, have their first contact with the automatic control contents in the second course, during the fourth quarter. The subject is entitled “Electronics, Automatic control, Communications and Navigation”, and only 22 hours are invested in the explanation of the basics concepts of the Automatic Control Engineering.
Furthermore, learning the basics contents on systems dynamics, stability analysis, feed-forward and feedback control enable the students to easy understanding the higher-level contents related to their degree/degrees. Some examples are “vessel stability”, “vessel dynamics”, “hydrodynamics”, “noise analysis”, “electronic instrumentation”, among others.
This paper presents a novel methodology to improve the learning of the Automatic control contents by the students of Naval Architect and Maritime Engineering Degrees. The proposed methodology is decomposed into four stages [1]:

• Direct and theoretical teaching of the most important concepts [2].
• Multiple handmade exercises with easy self-assessment [2].
• Computer sessions using computer based tools, MATLAB (C), the Control Toolbox and the SISOTOOL for easy understanding of the most popular PID synthesis methods.
• Laboratory sessions where the students have to implement the theoretical PID controllers tuned in the previous steps in a real experimental prototype.

For this last stage, special Lab equipments based on electronic circuits have been developed for these purposes. Students understand the relation between the different kinds of systems with very different nature by applying the Principle of Analogy which allows the students to synthesize thermal or mechanical systems with simple electronic circuits based on operational amplifiers. PID controllers are easily tuned and differences
Power and control signals are clearly differentiated allowing the students to follow and to understand the performance of open-loop and closed-loop systems without losing their focus on understanding other connections.

The experimental setup of the special Lab equipment and experimental results with real electronic signals are presented showing good learning results and good automatic control contents understanding that are validated when students face later subjects without any appreciated difficulties.

[1] J.A.Somolinos, A. López. Trabajos Prácticos Escalonados de Automática.
[2] J.A.Somolinos, R.Morales and M.J.Zapata. Introducción a la Ingeniería de Control. Ed. Publicaciones ETS I Navales. 2013.