Tag Archives: controls

This week’s Theme Week at Engineer Blogs is dealing with cross functional engineering material. Like most mechanical engineers, I’ve had to do my fair share of other engineering disciplines, mainly civil/structural (on the small scale) and electrical (basic circuits, signal processing). Because ME, EE, and Civil are all what I would consider core engineering disciplines, I think most engineers in one of those three fields should understand the basic concepts of the other two fields. Typically, the fundamental concepts in Civil are easier to understand for a ME. (I mean, you have to know your target to make the right bomb 😀 ). Basic concepts on the EE side are a little harder to grasp because they tend to be more abstract. But if you’ve had to do any programming, you understand Paul Clarke’s underlying argument, even if you don’t get the complete package. As we divert from the core…

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You hop into the shower. Eee, that’s cold! Your hand flips it up to hot. A few seconds (or minutes, depending on your geographical location and the power of your water heater) later and now it’s omg hot hot hot. Somewhere in there you manage to flip it back to a tolerable level and finish your shower. You are actually acting as a sophisticated controller/feedback system. Your skin is serving as a temperature sensor and feeding back information to your brain that tells you if it’s too hot or too cold. Your hand is serving as the motor that uses signals from your brain to tell you which direction to flip the nozzle in and by how much. Control systems are everywhere. They control everything from the total travel and position of a complicated robot arm in an automotive factory to the flap position of an aileron on an aircraft…

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