TU/e provides notebook computers preloaded with MathWorks software to all students, enabling them to work anywhere. Throughout their studies, students use MathWorks tools to solve increasingly complex technical challenges.
First-year mechanical engineering students use MATLAB®, Symbolic Math Toolbox™, and Simulink® to solve problems in linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, and programming.
Freshman mechanical engineers also complete a course on signal analysis in which they perform experiments to characterize simple flexible-shaft and leaf-spring systems as well as passive electronic filters. Using their notebook computers and a MATLAB based application developed at TU/e, they control these devices and take measurements via a real-time input/output device.
In their second year, students use Simulink to design and simulate a closed-loop feedback control system for an inkjet printer. The controller positions the print head by driving a DC motor and measuring its position using a linear encoder strip.
Students use Simulink Coder™ to generate control code, which they run using their notebook computers as real-time targets. Simulink external mode lets them tune control parameters and plot control variables while the printer is operating.
Third-year and graduate students compete in the department’s Pizzabot contest, in which they move pizzas from one rack to another as quickly as possible using a four-axis robotic arm. Students obtain time and frequency response data for each axis in MATLAB and then use Simulink to design feedback and feedforward controllers.
At the graduate level, TU/e students solve more advanced problems using MathWorks tools—for example, they develop control systems for fast motion systems such as wafer steppers. TU/e graduate students have also used MathWorks tools to compete successfully in intraschool competitions, such as RoboCup and Formula Student racing.
The experimentation infrastructure and approach are now used for both education and research projects in control systems theory and mechatronics.
Students throughout TU/e use MathWorks tools for statistical analysis, data processing, and signal processing and control, and the university continues to integrate MathWorks tools into the biomedical, mechanical, and electrical engineering curricula.