Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leading US Engineering Undergraduate Programs Use Quanser Technology

Being recognized for the excellence of its programs is important to universities – and to the students who are deciding which university to enroll at. Every year U.S. News and World Report magazine draws the attention of thousands of educators as they assess which engineering program to recommend to the young women and men destined to form the next generation of global engineers.  

Looking back at the engineering programs that U.S. News has spotlighted in 2012, we are pleased to note that Quanser controls technology can be found in the teaching and/or research labs of a great many of them, including the five undergraduate programs ranked at the top.

The Top Five U.S. engineering undergraduate programs for 2012, by U.S. News and World Report.  (Please note the two ties):

2.      Stanford University
3.      California Institute of Technology (tied for #3)
4.      University of California, Berkeley (tied for #3)
5.      Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) (tied for #5)
6.      University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (tied for #5)

MIT: Quanser’s Wireless Ethernet Embedded Control System (WEECS) is used to control robots in a Robotics course.

Stanford University: Quanser’s QUARC software was employed at Stanford University’s Aerospace Robotics Lab, where students were able to run a QUARC controller on computers that were over 10 years old and get closed loop sampling rates in the kilohertz. Using QUARC, they were able to design the controller in MATLAB®/Simulink® on a regular Windows® PC and an older computer running the QNX operating system. This has many benefits for real-time and reliable control and experimentation.

University of California, Berkeley: Dr. Masayoshi Tomizuka and his students are using a Quanser 3 DOF Gyroscope with added high accuracy encoders to develop controllers /estimators for Inertial Navigation Systems (INS).

Georgia Institute of Technology: Sterling Skinner of Georgia Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Department supervises a large lab that features over 20 Quanser Rotary Servo workstations, with 10 of those stations using Quanser QNX QUARC targets.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign:  Dr. Soo Jo Chung of the Department of Aerospace Engineering is using a Quanser 3 DOF Helicopter in his research laboratory. To see more about what Dr. Chung is working on, click here.

Quanser salutes these educational institutions for their leadership in controls teaching and research. For the complete list of U.S. News and World Report-ranked engineering schools, click here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Building Your Dream Lab with Quanser

Today’s engineering systems are highly complex but the typical university curriculum in engineering is often encumbered by mid twentieth century convention. For many professors, a significant part of the answer is better, richer hands-on education, and the undergraduate laboratory is one of the most important targets of their attention. Quanser has been collaborating with leading engineering universities to bring new life and relevance to the modern engineering lab.

Quanser systems are more than high performance devices. They are designed to support a pragmatic strategy of hands-on education innovation. At the core of this is a well-earned reputation for delivering flexible, cost-effective solutions through modular design of its product.

A Modular, Cost-Effective Educational Strategy
The modularity of the Rotary Servo product line is a great example of how a sound design can drive effective educational strategy. By adding one of ten unique add-on modules to the base servo motor, professors can extend the reach of their labs well beyond the traditional experiments. 

The Rotary Servo product line is a prime example of Quanser's modular, cost-effective strategy:  it features simple components that can be combined to create complex experiments that offer students new challenges.
Students can explore the complexities of flexible beams, or gyroscopic effects, or the dynamics of a multi-DOF system, and so much more. Overall, the design makes it easy to increase the number of stations while exponentially increasing the range of exercises and even courses through the add-on modules. In all, this is a highly cost-effective framework for an institution’s lab road map.

The Quanser Driving Simulator – a HIL Automotive “Video Game”
For Quanser, however, modularity is more than add-on hardware components. Recently, at the annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in San Antonio, Texas, we demonstrated a unique application of the Rotary Servo system. Called the Quanser Driving Simulator (QDS), this concept demonstration presented a rich automotive application layer via the QUARC® software and its standard library of 3D visualization tools.

The Quanser Driving Simulator is a rich and creative application of the modular Rotary Servo system. A true Hardware-in-the-Loop automotive control system, it is  presented within a video game-like framework.  
The concept, on the surface is, “a video game on steroids”. But there is a profound difference. The servo motors have been programmed to represent the speed and position control of a real car. Through software, these motors are then connected to a model of the vehicle dynamics, a racetrack, and a driver model. In essence this is a true Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) automotive control system, and the control theory runs through all of these components and the actual relevance of very theoretical concepts become clear and intuitive. Additionally, that video game aspect can increase the motivation aspect as it adds a very familiar and often fun dimension to a lab, all from out-of-the-box components and readily accessible accessories.

The Quanser Driving Simulator received a great deal of enthusiastic attention at the recent annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Build Your Own Dream Lab
In many ways, the QDS begins pointing to the proverbial dream lab. It combines accessible hardware with meaningful applications and it illustrates how modularity extends into the software aspects within the context of the rotary product line. Beyond the rotary product line, however, is the potential growth via Quanser’s extended line of products that reaches into some of the most exciting and important application areas.

The Shake Table series allows you to conduct research or help students comprehend structural dynamics and control principles that can minimize damage from earthquakes.  
The Shake Table series for earthquake simulation, the Helicopter series for aerospace applications, or haptic experiments for biomedical applications, are examples of Quanser products that can bring a teaching lab, literally, to state of the art overnight. Additionally, these advanced devices are fully capable of supporting advanced research, further increasing the benefits to the institution.

The Helicopter series is just one example of Quanser's wide range of products and experiments that can lift a teaching lab to state of the art quality overnight. Like so many of Quanser's products and experiments, they are also capable of supporting advanced research.
The Quanser dream lab is fully realized by accessing all the necessary accessories and utilities – DAQ, power supplies, courseware, system models, and more. Quanser fundamentally believes that the best labs are ones that are easy to deploy, maintain, and readily scale, giving instructors and students the time to do what they do best – creatively explore complex concepts.

 - Tom Lee
As Chief Education Officer at Quanser, Tom Lee is focused on spearheading the development of Quanser's global academic community. He is closely involved with Quanser's technology and solution development process and the company's partner and alliance programs. He holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, and an MASc and BASc in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.