The area of controls is devoted to the principles and technical means for ensuring that a physical quantity, such as temperature, altitude or speed, must be made to behave in a specified way over time. From the simple thermostat in a home furnace, to the cruise and emission controls in a car, to the autopilot in modern jet aircraft and space vehicles, to control of prosthetics in biomedical applications, a control device measures the behavior of a system to determine the discrepancy from some desired behavior, and then alters/adjusts the system’s inputs to bring the actual behavior closer to the desired one.
This fundamental process of feedback is key to the successful operation of an immense variety of both engineered and natural systems. Emerging advances in the creation of intelligent machines, including robots in the factory and in service industry, as well as autonomous vehicles, are driven by advances in control science and technology. Control engineers also explore ways to continually adapt and modify such feedback loops to enhance the effectiveness of control systems.
The area of controls is challenging and rewarding as our world faces increasingly complex control problems that need to be solved. Immediate needs include control of emissions for a cleaner environment, automation in factories, unmanned space and underwater exploration, and control of communication networks. Control is challenging since it takes strong foundations in engineering and mathematics, uses computer software and hardware extensively, and requires the ability to address and solve new problems in a variety of disciplines, ranging from aeronautical to electrical and chemical engineering, to chemistry, biology and economics.
Spotlight on Research:
Systematic Methodology for Designing the Control and Communication Modules of a Network of Agents
Prof. Nuno Martins
Research on Control and Decision Making using Markov Decision Processes
Prof. Steve Marcus
Fast Algorithms for Linear Programs with a Large Number of Constraints
Prof. Andre Tits
A Nonlinear Incompressible Model of the Human Tongue
Prof. William Levine
See a Complete List of Faculty Researchers in this Area
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