Project Description

What is Control Engineering

Control engineering

Photo credit – Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC

A Control Engineer designs ways to control the behaviour of dynamic systems. Any system that constantly changes is considered dynamic. Some common examples of dynamic systems are a car that is travelling on a road, the temperature outside and manufacturing equipment.

Control Engineering aims to create stability in these systems through various strategies. The first step to control a system’s behaviour is to measure and identify the system. Depending on the application of the control system, a Control Engineer has access to a wide range of sensors which can be used by other Engineers to measure any variable(s) to be controlled (e.g. pressure, voltage, acceleration and force).

For complex systems, which is usually the case in real world applications, computer simulations based on first principles (mathematical equations) are used to investigate how to best control these variables. A Control Engineer will perform calculations and design software to best control the system as required. They also design the physical units that execute the software (microcontrollers). Students of Control Engineering tend to be highly theoretical in nature, and are required to be proficient with software development. Control Engineers are employed in the automotive, aerospace and manufacturing industries. Most work is performed on a computer in an office environment, however there can also be field work to measure and test new control systems.