Control Theory!

  • Thread starter MEM33
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hello all,

I am a mechanical engineering major who is fascinated with control theory. At my school you can specialize in controls as either a mechanical major, or an electrical major. Does anyone know if being a mechanical major is a disadvantage at becoming a control system engineer? My research shows it is a predominately electrical major field.
 

Answers and Replies

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Sure, it's a disadvantage. But it can be an advantage, also.

In my experience, the EEs involved with industrial automation & controls gravitated towards programming and electricity. Mechanical stuff like inertias, geartrain sizing, and pneumatic cylinder forces...not so much. But in the world of industrial control, everyone thinks "EE" and any "ME" trying to play in that sandbox is an undeserving interloper.

As an ME, I certainly blew up a few components because I failed to fully comprehend the electrical side of things. But I remember one painful episode with my EE co-worker. He was dead-set on gaining glory by pushing through a robotic drilling project. I did a quick check of torques and off-axis loading on the robot wrist and told him the robot he selected would not work. It simply did not have the wrist joint strength to handle the reaction loads caused by the mechanical action of drilling into & through a metal housing. He was risking chatter, broken drill bits and lots of lost production, or wrist joint failure.

He didn't believe me, or didn't want to believe. He positioned himself as the Engineering Superhero Project Manager. OK...sure. I was branded as a Negative Nelly and taken off the project. Thank Heavens. The project was a train wreck and our company had to re-purchase all of the robots and issue a refund. Ugly, gory, train wreck with no survivors. Good thing I stood my ground of solid mechanical foundation. :approve:

Disadvantages/Advantages: it's what you make of it. And how you swim through that swamp full of alligators.
 

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