Syllabus for ME 370
System Dynamics and Control

Spring 2019

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. Control systems topics include stability, steady-state errors, and root-locus design. (Adapted from the course catalog.)

General information

Office Hours
WF 12–1 and MWF 1–2
Cebula 105
A2 Times
MWF 2:00–2:50 am
B2 Times
MWF 11:00–11:50 am
ME 370 Website
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. (Required. Old editions ok, but homework from Seventh.)

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 10% quiz grade deductions.

Video lectures

Most lectures will be available online on my YouTube channel. I recommend subscribing and familiarizing yourself with the playlist for this course.

For last year’s lecture videos, see this playlist.


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-2019 and #370-homework-2019.


The following schedule is tentative.

week topics introduced notes reading due
superposition, stability, etc. DS Ch 05 RW Ch 8
transient response DS Ch 06 RW Ch 9 assignment
state-space response DS Ch 07 RW Ch 10 assignment
fluid and thermal elements DS Ch 08 RW Chs 4 & 6 assignment
transfer functions DS Ch 09 RW Ch 12 assignment
impedance-based modeling DS Ch 10 RW Ch 13 assignment
frequency domain analysis DS Ch 11 RW Ch 14 assignment
frequency domain analysis DS Ch 11 RW Ch 15 assignment
frequency domain analysis DS Ch 11 RW Ch 15 assignment
introduction to control systems Co Ch 01 Ni Ch 1 assignment
Mid. Exam
control system stability Co Ch 02 Ni Ch 6
transient response and steady-state errors Co Chs 03 & 04 Ni Ch 7 assignment
root-locus analysis Co Ch 05 Ni Ch 8 assignment
root-locus design Co Ch 06 Ni Ch 9 assignment
root-locus design Co Ch 06 Ni Ch 9 assignment
finals week Fin. Exam


Assignment #1

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Assignment #8

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Assignment #10

Assignment #11

Assignment #12

Assignment #13

Homework, quiz, & exam policies

Homework & homework quiz policies

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

Quizzes will be available on moodle each Friday (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;
  7. students will understand basic control system theory;
  8. students will understand control system stability;
  9. students will understand steady-state errors; and
  10. students will be able to use root-locus techniques and design.

Desired program outcomes

The desired program outcomes are that mechanical engineering graduates have:

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering;
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data;
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs;
  4. an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams;
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems;
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility;
  7. an ability to communicate effectively;
  8. the broad education necessary to understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global and social context;
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning;
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues; and
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Correlation of outcomes

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

desired program outcomes
desired course outcomes 1