Syllabus for MME 561/ME 461 Control Systems I

Summer 2020, Special Corona Edition

Course description

The feedback control of linear systems using so-called “classical” control theory techniques. Root locus and frequency-response methods are introduced for controlling single-input, single-output (SISO) systems. Stability is evaluated in terms of both root locus and frequency response. PID and lag-lead controllers are discussed extensively. MATLAB-based or Python-based controller design is used throughout the course. Controller hardware instantiation is also introduced. (Adapted from the course catalog.)

General information

Office Hours (CH 103C/Zoomington)
By appointment
The Internets
MW 5:00–7:20 pm


Special Corona Edition

Most of the lectures will be recorded, listed below in the schedule, so they may be watched asynchronously. However, Wednesdays at class time, 5, I’ll be on Zoom. I’ll be on for as long as there are folks to hang out with!


(Ni) Norman S. Nise. Control Systems Engineering. Seventh Edition. Wiley, 2015. (Required. Old editions ok, but homework from Seventh.)


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 #461-general-2020 and #461-homework-2020 and, if you’re a grad student, the #561-grad-students channel.

Homebrew texts and notes

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

These texts are being occasionally 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.

Throughout the semester, you should be ready to show these (current) in any class session, with threat of 10% quiz grade deductions.

Video pre-class lectures

Before/for every class, there will be one or more video lectures you will be required to watch! See the Schedule. I’ve uploaded them 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 and will be updated as the course proceeds.

day lecture videos week reading due
00 Course introduction,
01.00 Introduction,
01.01 Performance,
01.02 Feedback control system block diagrams
1 Ni Chs 1, 6 Ass. 1
02.01 Introduction to stability performance,
02.02 Stability from the transfer function,
02.03 Routh-Hurwitz stability criterion
03.00 Transient response performance,
03.01 Transient response characteristics,
03.02 Exact analytical transient response characteristics,
03.03 Approximate analytical transient response
2 Ni 4.7, 4.8, Ch 7 Ass. 2
03.04 Simulation of transient performance,
04.00 Steady-state response performance,
04.01 Steady-state error for unity feedback systems
05.00 Root locus analysis introduction,
05.01 Root locus definition,
A.01 Complex functions
3 Ni Ch 8 Ass. 3
05.02 Sketching the root locus,
05.03 Generating the root locus via a computer
06.00 Root locus design introduction,
06.01 Gain from the root locus,
06.02 Proportional controller design P,
06.03 Beyond proportional design
4 Ni Ch 9 Ass. 4
06.04 PI controller design,
06.05 Proportional-lag controller design,
06.06 PD controller design
06.07.1 Proportional-lead controller design,
06.07.2 Proportional-lead controller design example,
06.08 PID controller design,
06.08 PID controller design example,
06.09 Proportional-lead-lag controller design
5 Ni Ch 9, 10 Ass. 5+6
07.03.1 Nyquist criterion 1 of 3,
07.03.2 Nyquist criterion 2 of 3 sketching plots,
07.03.3 Nyquist criterion 3 of 3 sketch example,
07.04 Stability from the Nyquist plot
07.05 Stability, gain margin, and phase margin from Bode plots,
07.06 Relations between time- and frequency domains,
08.01 Frequency response design
6 Ni Ch 11, 12 Ass. 7
09.01.1 State-space control 1 of 3,
09.01.2 State-space control 2 of 3,
09.01.3 State-space control 3 of 3 example,
B.2.1 Phase-variable canonical form


Assignment 1

Assignment 2

Assignment 3

Assignment 4

Assignment 5

Assignment 6

Assignment 7

Graduate student project

Graduate students will work as a single team on the following project. Write a “design region” Python class in the python-control project that

I have a fork here with branch design_region to which you’ll contribute this class. The design_region class should have attributes for all the transient response characteristics discussed in Control (e.g. rise time), second-order characteristics (damping ratio and natural frequency), and corresponding complex plane coordinates (real and imaginary and polar magnitude and phase). It should have set methods that can detect contradictory attributes and compute all attributes implied by that which has been set. It should also have flags for inequalities (e.g. the settling time requirement might be a maximum) and be able to compute and plot corresponding design regions implied by these. Design regions can be points, lines, or areas in the complex plane. The final report is just the corresponding documentation, which should include usage and examples.

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

Exams typically 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.

Participation and Homework Quizzes
Final Exam


Participation grades depend on (a) watching the video lectures before class, (b) filling in your notes, and (c) engagement in class discussions.

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.

Access and accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Support Services for Students (DSS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DSS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DSS at 360-438-4580 or or DSS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DSS. It is the policy and practice of the Saint Martin’s University to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Sexual misconduct/sexual harassment reporting

Saint Martin’s University is committed to providing an environment free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. There are Title IX/sexual harassment posters around campus that include the contact information for confidential reporting and formal reporting. Confidential reporting is where you can talk about incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. This confidential resource can help you without having to report your situation to the formal reporting process through unless you request that they make a report. Our confidential reporting faculty are: Dr. Emily Coyle, Psychology, and Dr. Rico Picone, Mechanical Engineering. Additional information and or reports can be made to the Title IX Team here on campus through the Dean of Students – Ms. Melanie Richardson, Associate VP of Human Resources – Ms. Cynthia Johnson, Public Safety – Mr. Will Stakelin, or the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Kate Boyle. Please be aware that in compliance with Title IX and under the Saint Martin’s University policies, educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. If you disclose any of these situations in class, on papers, or to me personally, I am required to report it. [As one of your two confidential support people, I am not, but this statement applies, otherwise.]

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 understand the fundamentals of classical control theory.
  2. Students will be able to construct, understand, and use a root locus plot for controller design.
  3. Students will be able to construct, understand, and use Bode and Nyquist plots for controller design.
  4. Students will understand controller stability.
  5. Students will understand and be able to design PID-based and gain-lag-lead-based controller design.

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