It has been well documented in the engineering education literature that introductory linear control systems courses present unique pedagogical challenges. Similarly, it has been reported that engaging undergraduate students in control systems research is challenging. The control of nonlinear systems is the focus of much research; Therefore, a paradox exists; research programs involving undergraduate students are often conducted in a “nonlinear before linear” fashion. Prior research by the authors approached this paradox by investigating whether a meaningful research project in nonlinear control systems could be conducted. While the author and co-author were willing to execute this research (despite the intense time commitment), this type of project is not sustainable long-term unless the significant time invested results in Item 1) illumination of new pedagogical techniques that generalize to each student in the linear control systems course (not just participants in the research project). This manuscript will describe in detail Item 1). Given the student and faculty mentors experience in the nonlinear controls research project and the student’s experience in the linear control systems course, pedagogical insights gained through this endeavor will be detailed by the faculty member. These are meant to close the loop of instructor assessment of the course during preparation for future offerings. Therefore, the undergraduate student directly provides an accounting of the experiences throughout the research program and introductory control systems course. The result is a proposed pedagogical approach to be implemented by three distinct methodologies. Methodology (1) Traditional lecture format, Methodology (2) Targeted physical or hands-on experiences where students are exposed to a controlled system/process commonly seen in industry, and Methodology (3) Direct student participation in the design of certain aspects of course materials.

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