Syllabus for ME 370 System Dynamics and Control

a syllabus

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

Actual office hours (CH 103C)
T 4-5, W 1-2, Th 4-5
Virtual office hours (zoom link, make appointment!)
F 1-3
Virtual office hours appointments
make appointment
A2 Times
TTh 1:00–2:20 pm
B2 Times
TTh 2:30–3:50 am
Zoom (password sent separately)
YouTube recorded Zoom sessions
unlisted playlist
ME 370 Moodle

Microsoft Teams

Everyone is required to join the Microsoft Teams team ME 370. We’ll use it to communicate with each other during the semester. Join here ME 370. That’s a signup link. Be sure to join the channels General and Homework.


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

Homebrew texts and notes

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

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 playlists for this course.

The first is the Dynamic Systems playlist.

The second is the Control Systems I playlist, of which we will only watch a few lectures, toward the end of the 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
+ Course introduction and syllabus 1 RW Ch 8
lti LTI system properties
lti.super+ Superpos., derivative, & integral properties
lti.equistab Equilibrium and stability
lti.vib Vibration isolation table analysis
+ First order superposition example
trans.char Characteristic transient response
trans.firsto First-order systems
2 RW Ch 9 Ass. 1
trans.secondo.1 Second-order systems
trans.secondo.2 Second-order system example
ssresp State-space response
ssresp.response State and output responses
ssresp.eig.1 Linear algebraic eigenproblem
ssresp.eig.2 Linear algebraic eigenproblem example
3 RW Ch 10 Ass. 2
ssresp.eigcomp Computing eigendecompositions
ssresp.diag.1 Diagonalizing basis
ssresp.diag.2 Diag. basis free response example
ssresp.vibe A vibration exa.
ssresp.mixed Analytic and numeric exa. in Matlab
+ ssresp.sim Simulating state-space response
4 RW Ch 4+6 Ass. 3
thermoflu Lumped-parameter modeling of fluid and thermal systems
thermoflu.flu Fluid system elements
thermoflu.therm Thermal sys mod. w/linear graphs
thermoflu.flutrans.1 Fluid transducer example
thermoflu.flutrans.2 Fluid transducer example cont.
5 RW Ch 15 Ass. 4
four.series Fourier series
four.fsexa Complex Fourier series exa.
four.transform Fourier transform
four.trex Fourier transform example
6 RW Ch 15
Midterm exam 1 (time response + thermofluid)
four.dft Discrete Fourier transforms 7 RW Ch 15 Ass. 5
freq.fir.1 Frequency and impulse response
freq.fir.2 Impulse response and DFT
freq.sin Sinusoidal input and its frequency response 8 RW Ch 14 Ass. 6
freq.bode.1 Bode plots
freq.bode.2 Bode plots
+extra Bode plot sketch example
freq.bode.3 Example part 1: sketching
freq.bode.4 Example part 2: Matlab
9 RW Ch 14 Ass. 7
freq.per Periodic input, frequency response Laplace transform introduction
lap.def Laplace transform definition Laplace transform properties
lap.inv Inverse Laplace transforming
lap.sol Solving ODEs with Laplace transforms
tf Transfer functions
tf.zp Poles and zeros
11 Ass. 8
tf.tfmat Transfer functions in Matlab
+ tf.zpk ZPK transfer functions in Matlab
imp.ip Input impedance and admittance
imp.2port Impedance with two-port elements Transfer functions via impedance Transfer functions via impedance
12 RW Ch 13
+ imp.examat Impedance modeling example in Matlab
imp.equiv Norton's and Thevenin's theorems
imp.divide The divider method
nlin.1 Nonlinear system introduction
nlin.2 Nonlinear state-space models
nlin.lin.1 Linearization of nonlinear state-space models
nlin.lin.2 Linearization of nonlinear s-s example
13 Ass. 9
nlin.char Nonlinear system characterization
sim.matlab Nonlinear systems in Matlab
Midterm exam 2 (Fourier + Laplace) 14
Co 01.00 Introduction to control systems
01.01 Control system performance
01.02 Feedback control system block diagrams
01.03.1 PID control introduction
01.03.2 PID controller design example
15 Ass. 10
01.04 Interactive PID controller design
No final exam! 16 Ass. 11


Assignment 01 (LTI properties)

Assignment 02 (transient response)

Assignment 03 (state-space response)

Assignment 04 (thermal and fluid system modeling)

Assignment 05 (Fourier series and transforms)

Assignment 06 (frequency response)

Assignment 07 (freq response and Bode)

Assignment 08 (Laplace transforms and transfer functions)

Assignment 09 (impedance analysis)

Assignment 10 (nonlinear analysis)

Assignment 11 (control systems)


Homework, quiz, & exam policies

Homework & homework quiz policies

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

Quizzes will be available on moodle each Friday, 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 take-home. If you require any specific accommodations, please contact me.

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

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 1
Midterm Exam 2

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.

Cheating is academic dishonesty as well as unprofessional for prospective teachers. Do not copy other students' assignments, have someone else write your papers or plagiarize published or unpublished materials, or submit work previously graded by other instructors. See Saint Martin's University Student Handbook. Students will be graded not only on their academic success, but on professional conduct as well. Students who fail to show professionalism in their academic or personal conduct (e.g. constant tardiness, excessive absences, and/or other unprofessional behavior) may earn a lower letter grade than the total of semester accumulated points, or may even earn a failing grade.

What is academic integrity? Saint Martin’s University is a community of faculty, students and staff engaged in the exchange of ideas in the ongoing pursuit of academic excellence. Essential to our mission is a focused commitment to scholarly values and intellectual integrity, and a respect for the ideas, beliefs and work of others. This commitment extends to all aspects of academic performance. All members are expected to abide by ethical standards both in their conduct and their exercise of responsibility to themselves and toward other members of the community. As an expression of our shared belief in the Benedictine tradition, we support the intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual nurturing of students.

What is academic dishonesty? Saint Martin’s University defines academic dishonesty as violating the academic integrity of an assignment, test and/or evaluation of any coursework. This dishonest practice occurs when you seek to gain for yourself or another an academic advantage by deception or other dishonest means. You have a responsibility to understand the requirements that apply to particular assessments and to be aware of acceptable academic practice regarding the use of material prepared by others. Therefore, it is your responsibility to be familiar with the policies surrounding academic dishonesty as these may differ from other institutions.

Access and accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Support Services (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 are 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 the Dean of Students – Ms. Melanie Richardson, Associate VP of Human Resources – Ms. Cynthia Johnson, Public Safety – Ms. Sharon Schnebly, or the Office of the Provost – Dr. Kathleen Boyle, unless you request that they make a report. 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.

University sanctioned activities

If a student is absent from class due to university sanctioned activities, such as sports, it is the student's responsibility to request that the absence be excused, otherwise, the absence will be recorded as unexcused. Absent students are responsible for catching up with the class, and if any assignments are due on the day of the absence, it is the student's responsibility to turn in the assignments on time (prior to class).

Religious Accommodation

Saint Martin’s University, in honor of the sacredness of the individual, and being deeply rooted in the Catholic Benedictine tradition of higher education, values the many religious and spiritual practices of our campus community. Saint Martin’s University supports our students in their ongoing journey of becoming. In compliance with Washington State Law RCW 28B.137.010, Saint Martin’s University reasonably accommodates students for reasons of religious observances.

Center for Learning, Writing, and Advising

The Center for Student Success offers free academic services for all Saint Martin’s students. The Center provides subject-area peer tutoring in science, technology, nursing, engineering, math, business, accounting, economics, world languages and other subjects. At the Writing Center, students meet with writing tutors to discuss their academic, personal, and professional writing. The Advising Center works with students on academic advising, connecting with campus support resources, transition and self-exploration guidance, personalized academic improvement plans, learning workshops, and support for changing majors. Disability Support Services is also located in the Center for any student with a disability who needs accommodations. For more information on the Center for Student Success, or to sign up for a tutoring, advising, or DSS meeting, see the website:

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