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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[70/84]  ENERGETIC ENGINEERING [84/00 - Ord. 2018]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 60
[70/85]  MECHANICAL ENGINEERING [85/00 - Ord. 2017]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 60


Knowledge and understanding:
develop the knowledge of the structural properties and design methodologies of linear feedback-controlled dynamical systems, and ability to understand the energetic and design implications.

Applying knowledge and understanding:
capability to detect energetic phenomena in dynamical systems aiming at their modeling, design and analysis of the corresponding structural properties.

Making judgements:
develop the ability to critically and synergistically use various tools of analysis and design of the behavior of feedback dynamical systems.

Communication skills:
capability to clearly express technical concepts.

Learning skills:
knowing how to integrate knowledge from different sources to deepen the understanding of the main phenomena taking place in feedback-controlled physical systems


To profitably attend the Automatic Control course, the student has to possess adequate knowledge of basic mathematical tools such as algebraic and integral/differential calculus. In addition, basic knowledge about linear time-invariant differential equations is required. No propedeutical exams are required.


The course includes a total of 60 hours of lectures and practical work, and it is articulated into the distinct topics listed hereinafter. The total number of hours for each topic is split between lectures (L), computer exercises (CE) and laboratory activities (LAB)

Generalities. (4 hrs: 4L)
Meaning and parameters of a transfer function. Linear time-invariant (LTI) systems. Stability. Fundamental theorems of the Laplace transform. Routh-Hurwitz criterion. Step responses for first and second order LTI systems.

Root Locus. (8 hrs: 6L+2CE)
Meaning and construction rules. Calibration of the root locus. Equation of double points. Examples of root locus construction and analysis.

Active and passive suspensions for vehicles (6 hrs: 5L+1CE)
Generalities. Quarter car, half-car and full-car models. Control of active suspensions. Improvement of passenger comfort and handling. Semi-active suspensions.

Steady-state and transient specifications (8 hrs: 6L+2CE)
Control systems of type 0,1 and 2. Steady state precision and disturbance rejection. Attenuation of sinusoidal and periodic disturbances. Relationships between transient specifications, crossover frequency and phase margin.

Systems with time-delays (5 hrs: 4L+1CE)
Examples. Closed-loop stability.

Design of regulators (18 hrs: 12L+6CE)
Root-locus based design. Loop-shaping design via lead, lag and lead-leg controllers. PID based design. PID tuning. PI-D and I-PD configurations. Advanced control structures: Smith predictor; Anti wind-up controllers; Cascade control; Feedforward control; Compensation of measurable disturbances. Model-following. Override. Ratio control. Modern synthesis in the state-variables domain.

PLC based automation (3 hrs: 3L)
Generalities. Ladder programming. Sequential functional chart (SFC) programming.

Laboratory work (8 hrs: 8LAB)
Modeling, simulation and PC-based control of a DC motor and of an experimental hydraulic “vertical three tank” apparatus. PLC programming of simple level/temperature automation systems using a thermo-hydraulic laboratory prototype with Siemens PLCs.

Teaching Methods

The course includes a total of 60 hours of lectures and practical work, more precisely, 40 hours of lectures and 20 hours of computer-based exercises and laboratory work. The lectures are normally carried out by showing and commenting powerpoint slides which are made available to the students. The exercises consist of solving analysis and design tasks, and are carried out also by means of computer simulations using the dynamical simulation software "Matlab-Simulink." Within the total of 20 hours we have 8 hours of laboratory work during which activities are carried out using experimental laboratory apparatus (DC motors, hydraulic multi-tank system, thermo-hydraulic setup) with PC-based or PLC-based control.

Verification of learning

Passing the exam is achieved in three different ways:
1. written tests (a midterm test and a final test); 2. an oral interview;
3. the preparation of a written report.

Regarding the written tests, they consist of several questions/exercises (in variable number from 5 to 8) to each of which is assigned a score in such a way that the total is 32 points. Each question/exercise is evaluated, and the sum of the scores obtained in the various questions / exercises form the final score of the test. The average of the marks obtained in the midterm and final tests determines the final grade. The type of questions / exercises varies significantly, in order to test the knowledge of the majority of the program carried out and the effective acquisition of the learning objectives. The answer to a substantial amount of the questions / exercises involves simultaneous use of several tools of analysis and design, so that it is verified the ability of the student to critically and synergistically use analysis and design tools of different nature. Questions of expositive nature, present in both tests, are used for checking the ability to clearly express technical concepts.
As for the interview, the first question concerns the resolution of an exercise of analysis or design, while the three last questions involve a discursive illustration of certain arguments from the program. Depending on the quality level of the answer, to every question a score ranging from 0 to 8 is assigned, and the final grade is determined by the sum of the marks obtained in the individual questions. The type of questions / exercises is chosen so as to verify the actual acquisition of the learning results, in agreement with the guidelines previously exposed.
Concerning the written report, it previews that a concrete control problem is analyzed and solved in its entirety (starting from the mathematical modeling, and then the preparation of specifications, the design of controllers using at least two different methodologies seen in the course, the simulation with the software Matlab Simulink and the execution and critical discussion of a performance comparison between the different approaches, comprising also the inclusion of nonideality effects such as measurement noise, or sensor/actuator dynamics. The written report is exposed to the teacher during a short interview during which the student summarizes the content and results, and clarifies doubts formulated by the teacher. It is clear that such a structure allows the almost complete verification of the actual acquisition of the learning outcomes in accordance with the guidelines set out above. Voting is attributed to the report by adding together the votes obtained separately for the several parts: modeling, controller design (with the various approaches), simulations, and critical analysis of the results. The final grade is the sum of the scores obtained in the various parts.


Farid Golnaraghi and Benjamin C. Kuo
“Automatic Control Systems – 9th edition”, Wiley, 2010.

Carlos A. Smith
“Automated Continuous Process Control”, Wiley, 2002.

More Information

Within the teacher's web page there is a section specifically dedicated to the course, from which the course’s material can be downloaded and where general organizative informations are given as well.
The lectures are performed by showing and commenting powerpoint slides, prepared by the teacher, downloadable from the course website. With reference to approximately half of the program, there have been developed by the teacher, and made available within the web page of the course, handouts suitable for home study. It is also available in the course website a set of exercises with sketch of the solution, as well as manuals and data sheets related to the laboratory activities.

Questionnaire and social

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