Control systems theory is an important course for Engineering Technology programs. However, it can be easily focusing on covering complex mathematical theory and solving theoretical problems. The application of control system theory in applied research and capstone courses can be overlooked. In order to provide practical examples of the control systems and boost their experiential learning, a distance control robot platform was provided to students. They are tasked to design a controller that moves the robot along a wall while keeping a constant distance from the wall. The knowledge from this control course project is then applied in the configuration of a drone that maintain distance from the building in the Capstone course project.
Many engineering technology programs are requiring their faculty members to conduct more research. In _____ engineering technology program, faculty members are required to perform well in both research and teaching. It is always a challenge to strike a balance between the two due to the heavy teaching load. This paper shows a case how engineering technology faculty can integrate teaching and research in the control systems course and a capstone course.
For this effort, three faculty members teamed up and received an internal funding from the university to study the feasibility of using an intelligent drone platform for building safety inspection. One of the challenges is to fly a drone close to the surface of a building and maintain a constant distance. The course project in Control Systems was designed to let students work in a related topic: How to control a robot to closely follow the contour of a wall. There are apparent similarities and difference between the course project and the research project. Both require a sensor/sensors to detect the distance between the unit and a wall. The measured distance is used as the feedback signal to control some motors. The concepts of control for these two systems are similar. However, a drone is more difficult to control because it flies in the three dimensional space and a robot is only moving on the ground. The course project provides students with an opportunity to work on real-world problems -. Some students found this project interesting and they chose the drone project to be their capstone project. This capstone project is on-going project, and it is expected to build a prototype and to be deployed for building surface surveying missions.
The experiences and lessons learned during the Control Systems course project is used to leverage the capstone project and the research task for the faculty team. Overall, the integration of research and teaching in this case helps the faculty members in their research. It also benefits the students in the Control Systems and Capstone courses. In this paper, the details will be provided with the course project and the on-going development in a drone platform. This approach of combining research and teaching can make the faculty members more productive and make students more interested in learning.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.