Control systems

Control is the use of feedback to obtain desired system performancein the presence of uncertainties. Control systems is a broad field,with aspects of the subject appearing in and drawing upon all engineeringfields, the physical and life sciences, management and economics, andmathematics. Control systems are found throughout the man-made and naturalworlds. Guidance and control of aircraft and spacecraft, control ofcomplex industrial processes such as semiconductor fabrication lines,and automatic regulation of voltage and frequency within narrow limitsin large power networks are typical control system examples. Moreover,principles of feedback control and system theory are increasingly importantin widely divergent fields outside engineering, such as economics, business,biology, and political science. Education in automatic control has manyfacets. Basic principles of dynamic system responses, properties offeedback, and experience with control system design methodologies shouldbe stressed in a strong undergraduate control program. Also importantare laboratory experiences, a good background in mathematics and incomputer science and engineering, and an introduction to related areassuch as communications and signal processing.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult members of the control area committeeto plan programs stressing special interests or career goals.

For Students Planning Graduate Study in Control Systems:

A good mathematics background is essential: MATH 418 is recommended over MATH 415, and either MATH 444 or MATH 447. ECE 490 is strongly recommended. Many undergraduates take the first year graduate course ECE 515 --- a petition is required, which is typically approved depending on overall standing of the student. Finally, seek out a mentor among the controls faculty (you can request an official mentor change) for further advice on courses, and to engage in undergraduate research.

Recommended Sequence of Courses in the Control Area:

Semester 5 ECE 313
Semester 6 ECE 310
Semester 7 ECE 459ECE 486
Semester 8 ECE 461ECE 490


ECE 486 is the basic undergraduate control course, which could be taken in the junior year, allowing more control-oriented electives in the senior year. The other courses listed provide concepts and techniques important for the control engineer. In addition, MATH 415 or MATH 416 is highly recommended.

Some additional technically oriented electives especially appropriate for the control area include:

MATH 415 or MATH 418MATH 444 or MATH 447MATH 446 or 448MATH 461 or 410MATH 466GE 423GE 424CS 173, ECE 330ECE 348ECE 411ECE 412ECE 420,ECE/CS 448ECE 464ECE 470ECE 489

Core Faculty In This Area

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Swanlund Endowed Chair Emeritus and CAS Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Professor
Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering
Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Assistant Professor, Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering
Adjunct Professor
Assistant Professor
Professor, Computer Science
Associate Professor

For advice on control systems, or potential undergraduate research, there are many opportunities outside of Electrical and Computer Engineering. You can find faculty who are active in systems & control research in these departments: Mechanical EngineeringIndustrial & Enterprise Systems EngineeringAerospace EngineeringChemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and many others.