Control engineering

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Control engineering or Control systems engineering is the engineering discipline that applies control theory to design systems with predictable behaviors. The practice uses sensors to measure the output performance of the device being controlled (often a vehicle) and those measurements can be used to give feedback to the input actuators that can make corrections toward desired performance. When a device is designed to perform without the need of human inputs for correction it is called automatic control (such as cruise control for regulating a car's speed). Multi-disciplinary in nature, control systems engineering activities focus on implementation of control systems mainly derived by mathematical modeling of systems of a diverse range.

Contents

Overview

Modern day control engineering (also called control systems engineering) is a relatively new field of study that gained a significant attention during 20th century with the advancement in technology. It can be broadly defined as practical application of control theory. Control engineering has an essential role in a wide range of control systems, from simple household washing machines to high-performance F-16 fighter aircraft. It seeks to understand physical systems, using mathematical modeling, in terms of inputs, outputs and various components with different behaviors; use control systems design tools to develop controllers for those systems; and implement controllers in physical systems employing available technology. A system can be mechanical, electrical, fluid, chemical, financial and even biological, and the mathematical modeling, analysis and controller design uses control theory in one or many of the time, frequency and complex-s domains, depending on the nature of the design problem.

History

Automatic control Systems were first developed over two thousand years ago. The first feedback control device on record is thought to be the ancient water clock of Ktesibios in Alexandria Egypt around the third century B.C. It kept time by regulating the water level in a vessel and, therefore, the water flow from that vessel. This certainly was a successful device as water clocks of similar design were still being made in ~Baghdad when the Mongols captured the city in 1258 A.D. A variety of automatic devices have been used over the centuries to accomplish useful tasks or simply to just entertain. The latter includes the automata, popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, featuring dancing figures that would repeat the same task over and over again; these automata are examples of open-loop control. Milestones among feedback, or "closed-loop" automatic control devices, include the temperature regulator of a furnace attributed to Drebbel, circa 1620, and the centrifugal flyball governor used for regulating the speed of steam engines by James Watt in 1788.

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