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Control Systems Engineering

Feedback control systems are often not well understood in industry. The mathematics involved in Control Theory is complex, and those who specialize in this field often have no practical knowledge of how it is used in industry.

At polyXengineering we have bridged this disconnect between theory and practice. Our experience lies in control systems for power plants, automotive control systems, motion control systems (electro-mechanical, pneumatic, and hydraulic), and process control systems.

We have produced many models of physical systems under closed-loop (feedback) control and verified these models against their real, physical systems.

We have worked with robotic control systems to make it easy to control a multi-axis robot by simply expressing a wish for a desired motion. The control system figured out how to actuate each joint to achieve the desired path of the robot end-effector.

We have worked with various tuning methods for PID controllers.

We have used LabVIEW software to control machines and systems with programmed controllers. Lately we have begun using Matlab/Simulink for this purpose. So we are expert at connecting machines and systems to computers using state-of-the-art software for improved control.

Thus our expertise is in bringing the theory of controls down into the real world. This improves control, reduces machine wear, and saves energy.

Professor Owen was involved in the late 1990s in Austin, Texas, in the development of Fisher Rosemount's DeltaV distributed control system. At Cal Poly he pioneered the development of the Mechanical Controls Lab, bringing computer control into the lab and designing hydraulic and pneumatic motion control systems. He also was involved, with others, in redesigning a two-tank level-control system for control using Simulink. He has also held controls lectures and taught in laboratories in Germany at the Munich University of Applied Sciences and at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and in Belgium at the University of Antwerp. He also worked over a two-year period in the Automation Lab at the University of Bergamo in Northern Italy. There Dr. Owen was instrumental in introducing the simulation of mechanical systems for the purpose of designing motion controllers for them.

Video tutorials for Control Systems Engineering

The following tutorials were created to lead you through the process of understanding Control Systems Engineering

Control-loop anatomy

Introduction to components and configuration of a single-input/single-output control loop. Overview describes how components work together to perform the control function.

Control-loop signals

The internal signals in a control loop are enumerated and described in this video. How information flows between the components of a control loop is explained.

Positioner vs. regulator

Describes the difference between these two basic types of control loops: how they function, what the aim of each is, how their configurations differ, how non-zero signals propagate through each loop.

Positioner vs. regulator - example

Two very common examples of these two types of control loops is given to make clear the different operation of these two types of loops. A fly-by-wire system illustrates the operation of a positioner loop. An automotive cruise-control system illustrates the operation of a regulator loop.

Example: Autonomous guided vehicle

Shows the details of an autonomous guided vehicle developed at the Laboratorio di Automatica at the University of Bergamo in Northern Italy.

Example: Actuation system for paraplegia

A system to actuate the muscles of the thigh for a person with a severe back injury to allow him/her to move his/her lower leg for physical therapy.

Modelling mck-system as block diagram

Shows a standard procedure for producing a block-diagram model of a dynamic system from its ODE (ordinary differential equation). This is shown for a mass-spring-damper system, but this technique can be applied to any dynamic system whose dynamics is represented by an ODE, even mulitple-degree-of-freedom systems.

First-order step response

The response of a first-order dynamic system to a step input is explained.

Closed-loop transfer function

Describes what the closed-loop transfer function is and how to obtain it from a standard control-loop block diagram.

Open- vs closed-loop transfer function

Explains the difference between these two concepts and discusses why this is so confusing in the study of classical Controls

Introduction to the PID controller

Describes the three-part function of the PID controller and its block-diagram structure.

Classification of control systems

Describes a classification scheme for control systems used in the German-speaking world. A very shorthand notation can be used to describe even complicated systems..

Controls textbook

In 2010 Professor Owen reacted to the high price of Controls textbooks (around $200) and wrote his own, Control Systems Engineering: A Practical Approach.  It can be ordered from Dr. Owen for a price of $25 plus shipping and handling

Controls for industry

Dr. Owen occasionally offers a week-long, hands-on course in Controls System for industrial clients. For more information on this course, write Dr. Owen directly at

polyXengineering, Inc.
872 Toro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Principal:  Patrick Lemieux, PhD, PE
(818) 427 7230
Principal:  Frank Owen, PhD, PE
(805) 441 3995