Syllabus for ME 370
System Dynamics and Control

Spring 2020

Course description

This course is an introduction to the mathematical modeling and control of systems of electrical, mechanical, fluid, thermal, and inter-domain (e.g. electro-mechanical) elements. A system dynamical approach is used, which allows different energy domains to be modeled within a unified framework. Analysis includes the time-domain and frequency-domain. Feedback control systems are introduced. (Adapted from the course catalog.)

General information

Office Hours (CH 103C)
Tu 12–2 and Th 1–2
Office Hours (CSS)
W 3–4
Office Hours (Pan 107)
W 4–5
Cebula 101
A2 Times
TTh 2:00–3:20 pm
B2 Times
TTh 3:30–4:50 am
ME 370 Moodle



(RW) Derek Rowell and David N. Wormley. System Dynamics: An Introduction. Prentice Hall, 1997. (Required.)

(Ni) Norman S. Nise. Control Systems Engineering. Seventh Edition. Wiley, 2015. (Recommended.)

Homebrew texts and notes

Partial texts (with fill-ins) I’m writing will be posted on the Dynamic Systems: an introduction and Control: an introduction pages.

These texts are being constantly revised, so you have two printing options I recommend (both in color!):

  1. Have a service such as that of the SMU Computer Resource Center print them in bulk for you. Whichever printing service you use, I recommend binding them such that pages can be replaced (e.g. three-ring bindable) in case there are major revisions to a section during the term.
  2. Print each week’s lectures on-demand, yourself, when I give the “ok to print” signal. This is more tedious and requires more organization, but it’s at least a bit less paper.

In either case, you are required to have a binder (or equivalent) with Dynamic Systems Chapter 05 ready to show by our second class to avoid a 10% deduction on your first quiz grade. (Or you can show me those lectures on your note-taking tablet, if that’s your preferred method.)

Throughout the semester, you should be ready to show these (current) in any class, with threat of a 10% quiz grade deduction for that week.


Everyone is required to join the messaging service called “Slack.” We’ll use it to communicate with each other during the semester. The Slack team you need to join is called drrico. That’s a signup link. Be sure to join the channels #370-general-2020 and #370-homework-2020.

Video pre-class lectures

Before every class, there will be one or more video lectures you will be required to watch! See the Schedule. I’ve uploaded them all to YouTube. Watch them with the texts printed out, filling in the blank sections as you go.

I recommend subscribing and familiarizing yourself with the playlist for this course.


The following schedule is tentative. Bonus lectures denoted "+" are optional, but so is this class.

day pre-class lectures to watch week reading due
+ 00.00 Course introduction and syllabus 1 RW Ch 8
05.00 LTI system properties
05.01 Superposition, derivative, & integral properties
05.02 Equilibrium and stability
05.03 Vibration isolation table analysis
+ 05.04 First order superposition example
06.01 Characteristic transient response
06.02 First-order systems
2 RW Ch 9 Ass. 1
06.03 Second-order systems
06.03.2 Second-order system example
07.00 State-space response
07.01 State and output responses
07.02.1 Linear algebraic eigenproblem
07.02.2 Linear algebraic eigenproblem example
3 RW Ch 10 Ass. 2
07.03 Diagonalizing basis
07.03.2 Diagonalizing basis free response example
07.04 Simulating state-space response
08.00 Lumped-parameter modeling of fluid and thermal systems
08.01 Fluid system elements
08.02 Thermal systems modeling with linear graphs
4 RW Chs 4 & 6 Ass. 3
08.03 Fluid transducer example
08.04 Fluid transducer example continued
09.00 Transfer functions
09.01 Poles and zeros
5 RW Ch 12 Ass. 4
09.02 Transfer functions in Matlab
10.01 Input impedance and admittance
10.02 Impedance with two-port elements
6 RW Ch 13 Ass. 5
10.03.1 Transfer functions via impedance
10.03.2 Transfer functions via impedance
10.04 Norton's and Thevenin's theorems
10.05 The divider method
11.01 Fourier series
11.01.1 Fourier series example
7 RW Ch 14 Ass. 6
11.02 Fourier transform
11.02.1 Fourier transform example
Midterm exam 8 RW Ch 15
11.03 Frequency and impulse response
11.04 Sinusoidal input and its frequency response
9 RW Ch 15 Ass. 7
11.05.1 Bode plots
11.05.2 Bode plots
11.06 Periodic input, frequency response 10 RW Ch 15 Ass. 8
Simulating linear systems in MATLAB 11 Ass. 9
Simulating linear systems in Python
Nonlinear systems
12 Ass. 10
Simulating nonlinear systems in MATLAB
Simulating nonlinear systems in Python 13 Ass. 11
Phase space analysis
Control systems intro 14 Ass. 12
Control systems intro
Control systems intro 15 Ass. 13
Course review


Assignment #1

Assignment #2

Assignment #3

Assignment #4

Assignment #5

Assignment #6

Assignment #7

Assignment #8

Assignment #9

Assignment #10

Assignment #11

Assignment #12

Assignment #13

Homework, quiz, & exam policies

Homework & homework quiz policies

Weekly homework will be “due” on the Monday following the week it is shown on the schedule, but it will not be turned in for credit. However — and this is very important — each week a quiz will be given on Monday that will cover the previous week’s homework.

Quizzes will be available on moodle each Monday (as early as I can get them up), and must be completed by that evening (before midnight). Late quizzes will receive no credit.

Working in groups on homework is strongly encouraged, but quizzes must be completed individually.

Exam policies

The midterm and final exams will be in-class. If you require any specific accommodations, please contact me.

Calculators will be allowed. Only ones own notes and the notes provided by the instructor will be allowed. No communication-devices will be allowed.

No exam may be taken early. Makeup exams require a doctor’s note excusing the absence during the exam.

The final exam will be cumulative.

Grading policies

Total grades in the course may be curved, but individual homework quizzes and exams will not be. They will be available on moodle throughout the semester.

Homework quizzes
Midterm Exam
Final Exam


Academic integrity policy

Cheating or plagiarism of any kind is not tolerated and will result in a failing grade (“F”) in the course. I take this very seriously. Engineering is an academic and professional discipline that requires integrity. I expect students to consider their integrity of conduct to be their highest consideration with regard to the course material.

Correlation of course & program outcomes

In keeping with the standards of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, each course is evaluated in terms of its desired outcomes and how these support the desired program outcomes. The following sections document the evaluation of this course.

Desired course outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the following course outcomes are desired:

  1. students will have a clear and thorough understanding of concepts, principles, and methods of modeling rotational-mechanical, translational-mechanical, electrical, fluid, and thermal systems;
  2. students will have a clear and thorough understanding of concepts, principles, and methods of modeling the interfaces rotational-mechanical, translational-mechanical, electrical, fluid, and thermal systems;
  3. students will be able to solve equations of state analytically and numerically;
  4. students will be able to derive and apply transfer functions;
  5. students will be able to analyze systems with sinusoidal frequency response methods;
  6. students will be able to analyze systems with frequency domain methods; and
  7. students will demonstrate an understanding of feedback control systems.

Desired program outcomes

In accordance with ABET’s student outcomes, our desired program outcomes are that mechanical engineering graduates have:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Correlation of outcomes

The following table correlates the desired course outcomes with the desired program outcomes they support.

desired program outcomes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
desired course outcomes 1