I am a telecommunication and network engineer working as a programmer and data analyst. One of my dreams was and still to be a control system engineer and to design and program a smart robots and systems.

I have a background in programming and matlab. Where should I start ?

I get a book from Amazon for Norman S. Nise. The book is very technical and there is lots of things that I can't understand.

Where should I start and what electronic kit should I buy to start with and do experiments.


closed as off-topic by Fred, GlenH7 Apr 16 '18 at 22:32

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Control theory is very math heavy, especially Linear Algebra. You can start with an electronic kit and start tuning PID controllers using various tuning methods, but those will not give you a conceptual understanding of what you are actually trying to do. $\endgroup$ – fibonatic Apr 16 '18 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ I want to learn the math of it. I know linear algebra too, and I know how to calculate a transfer function since college. $\endgroup$ – alim1990 Apr 16 '18 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ Is this course good too coursera.org/learn/systems-engineering $\endgroup$ – alim1990 Apr 16 '18 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ There also a couple of YouTube channels which cover a lot of the basics, such as Brian Douglas, John Rossiter, Steve Brunton and Katherine A. Kim. $\endgroup$ – fibonatic Apr 16 '18 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Career and education advice is off-topic for the site. $\endgroup$ – GlenH7 Apr 16 '18 at 22:32

A robot is anything with a sensor, an actuator, and some smarts. Build anything you want!

I suggest looking at the website for some college engineering classes on mechatronics to see what they have been building and controlling. For instance, UC Berkeley, Cal Tech, or MIT. All you have to do is see the student projects to get an idea of what to build yourself. Maybe you want to get a degree in controls!

Look at the MAKE: webpage. One peek into MAKE: magazine, the web site, or a Maker Faire and you'll get a zillion ideas for getting started. These folks never stop at the algorithm: they want something that moves!

In the US, you may be interested in getting the controls P.E. stamp. Take the Engineer-In-Training exam right away, then try to get a job where somebody has the controls P.E. stamp, such as at any infrastructure plant like sewage, water treatment, electrical grid, etc. Then after a few years you can take the test to be a controls PE yourself.

Learn an appropriate controls code language... I've heard that C (or was it C#?) is a good one for this purpose. Try it out on a Raspberry PI or Arduino.

Good luck!

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks all. Can you give me a simple project example to start with while studying ? $\endgroup$ – alim1990 Apr 27 '18 at 5:01

If you want to get into control theory and the math behind it, I would recommend to roughly follow these steps:

  1. Understand the math basics from linear algrebra as @fibonatic already mentioned, but also solving differential equations.
  2. Understand the basics of system dynamics and system analysis, including but not limited to
    • Bode diagrams and Nyquist diagrams
    • stability analysis
    • frequency domain and state space
    • linearizing systems
    • robustness

Beyond analysing given system equations, you should also learn how to derive these equations from a given real system, which includes system identification.

  1. Learn the basic approaches and concepts of controller design, like tuning PI/PID controllers, state feedback with pole placement, state observation, cascade control, anti-windup and possibly the linear-quadratic regulator (a rather simple optimal control approach).

From this point on, the following control theory concepts get a bit more sophisticated, before you continue you should first look at the concept of Lyapunov stability which might just be the most important concept in control theory, from here on you can for example look at nonlinear control and sophisticated stuff like Model Predictive Control.

I learned the basics of control theory in german, so I don't know any english introduction level books, but this one seems to cover most of what I mentioned in my list.

Thanks to @fibonatic for some more ideas, anyone feel free to make further suggestions when I forgot something.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ System identification is also an often overlooked topic. And observers can also be useful to know about, however once you understood state feedback (such as pole placement or LQR) it is not that complicated to also understand observers. $\endgroup$ – fibonatic Apr 16 '18 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks all. Can you give me a simple project example to start with while studying ? $\endgroup$ – alim1990 Apr 27 '18 at 5:01

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