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Study Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Control Systems

Mechanical Engineering

Focus Area: Control Systems

Mechanical engineering is a broad engineering field where those who choose this field are well prepared to tackle a wide range of technical issues. One of the fundamental requirements of modern machines and systems is the ability to provide autonomous control during operation. The fundamental skills required to provide control of a machine or system are the focus of control systems.

The mechanical engineering curriculum provides students interested in a career in control systems with the fundamentals in math, circuits, and feedback along with an understanding of fluid mechanics and system dynamics. Nearly every modern system employs extensive use of control systems. Modern systems including automobiles, airplanes, computers, and buildings all use control systems. Control systems use sensors and actuators (transducers) to measure key parameters of an environment, system, or device and apply math and physics to provide an appropriate action to the system or device. A well-designed and implemented control system provides both stability and performance suitable for the application.

Broad Career Possibilities

Common employers of mechanical engineers with a control systems focus include small to large companies in areas ranging from the power industry to aerospace. As technology in sensors, actuators, and computing improves, the modern control systems engineer uses the latest technology to provide both new function and efficiency enhancement to the application. A solid foundation in control systems enables the new engineering graduate to provide a critical skill set to a broad set of employers.

Control systems typically employ a closed-loop architecture whereby the underlying physics of a system in the real world is captured by a mathematic model. When a sensor provides data to the computer, this data is processed and compared to expected and desired data. The underlying physics allows the control system to provide an intelligent response to correct the system to generate the desired result. With the increasing presence of autonomous vehicles, such as airplanes and drones, control systems are critical to fielding safe and effective machines.

Because of the continual breakthroughs in technology, a career in control systems is dynamic and rewarding with abundant opportunities for career growth with diverse teams of engineers and scientists.

Educational Requirements

Educational requirements for control systems engineers range from a BS to graduate degrees. Earning an MS degree with a research focus in control systems provides additional opportunities across industry. Earning a PhD will enable true depth in your chosen interest area within control systems. An advanced degree enhances fundamental understanding and unique career opportunities at national laboratories, small businesses, and large businesses.