I have begun to study control engineering by several books and awesome youtube videos by Brian Douglas. I love them because they give me new understanding of math that I learned before but I still can not get the point of what actually control engineers do.

What is meant by systems here? I mean all examples always are just physical systems like springs and etc, but all of them are governed by physical laws and no matter how dissatisfied with output we are, we are not able to modify physical laws. And in the case of, for instance, mobile robots what do control engineers do? Deriving PID coefficients? I feel like missing the most crucial part of it.


1 Answer 1


In short, 'systems' refers to a combination of components that act together and perform a certain objective. A system can span across different physical and virtual domains.

Controls engineers primarily seek to change these inputs to achieve an optimal response based on their objectives/requirements through means of some process (usually electrical or mechanical actuation).

On a side note, in a commercial setting due to inherent complexities associated with non-isolated systems, engineers usually specialize in a specific process or task (eg. Tuning PID coefficients for different plants). Also controls engineers are sometimes called systems engineers in their designation.

Sources: Modern Control Engineering (K. Ogata) and personal experience.


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