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From what I understand, a control systems engineering job is almost always a senior level position. What kind of entry level jobs do most engineers have before they are qualified to actually design control systems? Is a PE license necessary for this kind of work?

I am currently working on a masters degree in electrical and computer engineering. I am mostly interested in control theory and that is the subject of my thesis.

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To a large extend the answer depends on the industry. For example if you work for a large aerospace company it might take a while before you can get chance to get involved in designing a control systems. In this case you will be most likely a team member design a control system. On the contrary if you happen to work for smaller company you will mostly get to design smaller control system early in your career. Your choice is, do you want be a large fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond.


For either choice you might want to get practical experience in area such as

  • Measurement systems including sensor characteristics and technologies including pressure, motion, flow, ultrasonic sensors etc
  • Signals, Transmission and networking including EMI/EMC, communication protocols, cross talk, routers
  • Control elements such as motor controls, pressure relieving devices, valves etc
  • Code Standards and Regulation such as ANSI, NEMA, and OSHA
  • Implementation methodologies including management of change (Scope, ECN/ECO, Cost, Time)

You also might want to look at Control Systems Engineer (CSE) Licensure exam as well as some of the requirements for current control engineering entry level jobs.


Below are some engineering SE post that discuss some aspects of the above

References:

  1. International Society of Automation
  2. Is interference between aircraft an issue for fly-by-wireless technology?
  3. How can I arrange my ECO system to enforce the principle of least privilege?
  4. Sensors / processing algorithms to emulate a human's sense of smell
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I recommend you to learn control theory while implementing what you learn directly. a useful example to do so ,this course for mobile robots using control theory https://www.coursera.org/learn/mobile-robot/home/info and in each lecture you can implement what you learn on a simulator on MATLAB and you can even implement it on a hardware; small mobile robot. -You can also read or use as a reference "Modern Control theory, for William Brogan" i believe it is the best control theory reference i ever seen. and finally GOOD LUCK :)

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