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Dynamics and Controls


Control techniques are used whenever some quantity, such as speed, temperature, or force must be made to behave in some desirable way over time. Technological demands today impose extremely challenging and widely varying control problems. In the ECEE dynamics and controls group, research opportunities include developing controllers for aircraft, spacecraft, information storage systems, human-machine interfaces, manufacturing processes, and power systems. The studies include linear and non-linear modeling of dynamic systems, analyses of dynamic behaviors, and design of controllers for assuring satisfactory and optimal performances. Jointly advised projects within or across departments are common, allowing students to tailor the theoretical and/or applications foci of their work to their interests. Several collaborations with local industry and government laboratories also enable students' access to state-of-the-art research equipment in a number of areas.

Graduate Courses

ECEN 5448, Advanced Linear Systems
ECEN 5458, Sampled-Data and Digital Control Systems
ECEN 5418, Automatic Control Systems I
ECEN 5662, Optimal Signal Processing and Stochastic Systems
ECEN 7438, Theory of Nonlinear Systems

Research Topics

Current topics include nonlinear control systems; aircraft on-board management systems; switching power converters; spacecraft control systems; control of web-winding systems; disk drive servomechanisms; mechanism and modeling for higher bandwidth force control of haptic interfaces; bi-manual haptic interfaces; adaptive control of wind turbines; distributed sensor fusion for tracking aircraft; control of sensor resources in large-scale multisensor surveillance systems; efficient ranking and optimization of target tracking algorithms; modeling and control of material processes.


J. Hauser (Ph.D., California, Berkeley), control theory and control of mechanical systems.

J. Marden (Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles),

D. Meyer (Ph.D., Stanford), control theory and material processes control.

L. Pao (Ph.D., Stanford), control of flexible structures, sensor fusion, robotics.


Laboratory space is available for conducting experimental research in control of spacecraft systems, agile aircraft, switching power converters, and haptic interfaces. Two dSPACE systems are available for research and teaching needs. Both theoretical and experimental computing needs are supported with clusters of Sun workstations and PCs, and CAD software such as MatLab and Mathematica.

Control Systems, Sensor Fusion, and Robotics Lab. Research in multisensor data fusion and control of disk drives, tape drives, wind turbines, and robotic hands is conduced in this lab. Computing facilities include a network of Unix workstations, PCs, and laptops, with software such as Matlab and Mathematica. The laboratory also houses a Utah/MIT dextrous robotic hand having 16 degrees-of-freedom (4 fingers of 4 joints each).

Orbital Systems Lab. Research on haptic interfaces and vibration isolation systems is performed in this lab. The haptic interface is a 6 degree-of-freedom (3 translations and 3 rotations) interface that was designed and built in-house to enable scientific studies of the limits of interface technology and human sensory perception.

Current Research Support

Research support is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense, the Colorado Center for Information Storage, and the American Society for Engineering Education. Assistantships and fellowships funded by these sources are available to qualified students.