In the senior level class Control Theory students design, build and test their control circuits in the Control Design Laboratory.
Automatic control involves control of physical parameters such as the temperature of a room, the speed of a car (cruise control), the operation of machines in a complex automated manufacturing plant, the motion of robots that deliver meals in a hospital and the flight of an unmanned space ship. Each of these systems must be controlled to user defined performance specifications and, when set to automatic mode, performs its operation with no or minimum human intervention. This is done by using measurements obtained by different sensors and using the information for feedback to adjust the controlled variable to the desired level.
The design of controllers for such systems and the various techniques used are discussed in a senior level required course in control theory. In addition to the theory discussed in class, students get hands-on experience by designing controllers for physical systems and implementing them in the laboratory.