Cameron Devine

Control Systems I ME 461

Course description

The feedback control of linear systems using so-called “classical” control theory techniques. Root locus and frequency-response methods are introduced for controlling single-input, single-output (SISO) systems. Stability is evaluated in terms of both root locus and frequency response. PID and lag-lead controllers are discussed extensively. MATLAB-based or Python-based controller design is used throughout the course. Controller hardware instantiation is also introduced. (Adapted from the course catalog.)

General information

Cameron Devine Ph.D.
[email protected]
Classroom location
Cebula Hall 201B
zoom (password on moodle)
F 12:00 - 1:50 pm
Lecture Notes


Homebrew texts and notes

Partial texts (with fill-ins) will be posted on the Control Systems (Co) page.

Have a service such as that of the SMU Computer Resource Center print them in bulk for you. Whichever printing service you use, I recommend binding them such that pages can be replaced (e.g. three-ring bindable) in case there are major revisions to a section during the term.


The following schedule is tentative. The class dates listed in bold will be in person.

day topic reading due
1/14 Course intro and syllabus
performance metrics
block diagrams
Ni Ch. 5  
1/21 Routh-Hurwitz stability criterion Ni Ch. 6 Ass. 1
1/28 Transient system response Ni Ch. 4 Ass. 2
2/4 Steady State performance Ni Ch. 7 Ass. 3
2/11 Root Locus Ni Ch. 8 Ass. 4
2/18 Root Locus creation Ni Ch. 8 Ass. 5
2/25 Root Locus controller design Ni Ch. 9 Ass. 6
3/4 Midterm Exam
Solution pwd: ZOVdmAv5q7ladO
3/11 Midterm Break    
3/18 PI, lag, and PD controller design Ni Ch. 9 Ass. 7
3/25 Lead, PID, and lead-lag controller design Ni Ch. 9 Ass. 8
4/1 Nyquist stability criterion and plot Ni Ch. 10 Ass. 9
4/8 Gain and phase margin Ni Ch. 10, 11 Ass. 10
4/15 Easter Break    
4/22 State space design Ni Ch. 12 Ass. 11
5/4 Final Exam    


Assignment 1

  • Turn in: Co Exercise intro.tabernacle.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problem 5.1.
  • Solution pwd: 7c7jGPAf22PUBft.

Assignment 2

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 6.1.
  • Do: Nise Problems 6.5, 6.11, 6.17, 6.19, 6.23, and 6.31.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 6.52 and 6.56.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: dTcoe2yQe4qwVALXyS9TxG.

Assignment 3

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 4.28.
  • Do: Nise Problems 4.20, 4.24, and 4.25.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 4.16, 4.19, 4.29, and 4.32.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: 17YF8ZMXeYQWWw76fIizYOx.

Assignment 4

  • Tun in: Nise Problem 7.18.
  • Do: Nise Problems 7.3, 7.5, 7.16, and 7.45.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 7.48 and 7.62.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: dmmPHen36dr9WcXQb4Bo6.

Assignment 5

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 8.2.
  • Do: Nise Problems 8.3, 8.5, 8.11, and 8.18.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 8.55, 8.57, and 8.58.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: RfszxhX86ba5fEatNCI4.

Assignment 6

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 9.3.
  • Do: Nise Problem 9.2.
  • Additional problems for grad students: None this assignment.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: 2W5nEkgZNqE382PMwKhy9.

Assignment 7

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 9.8.
  • Do:
    • Nise Problem 9.6, and
    • Co Exercise rldesign.17.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problem 9.55 part a.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: id60m19RO7Gf6sZuwqxcE.

Assignment 8

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 9.47.
  • Do:
    • Nise Problem 9.25, and
    • Co Exercise rldesign.diurnation.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 9.50 and 9.51.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: TXJ54Az3q.

Assignment 9

  • Turn in: RW Problem 14.8 part c.
  • Do:
    • Nise Problem 10.4, and
    • RW Problem 14.8.
  • Additional problems for grad students: None this assignment.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: vVxA8ITlysD1web2BmS8.

For this assignment:

  • sketch all Bode Plots, and
  • RW Problems can be found here.

Assignment 10

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 10.44.
  • Do: Nise Problems 10.5 and 10.9.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 10.40 and 10.48.
  • Take the weekly homework quiz on moodle.
  • Solution pwd: hk1y4Viut.

Assignment 11

  • Turn in: Nise Problem 12.37.
  • Additional problems for grad students: Nise Problems 12.19, 12.31, and 12.46.
  • No quiz this week.
  • Solution pwd: 71xReaSH7e.

Lecture Videos

Dr. Rico Picone has put together a set of lectures videos on control systems based on the same text as this course. While in no way required, these videos are listed here as a resource you may find useful.


Everyone is required to join the Slack workspace Prof. Cameron Devine. We’ll use it to communicate with each other during the semester. Join by clicking here. Be sure to join the channels #me461-general and #me461-homework.

Graduate students

Graduate students will be given additional problems each homework assignment and exam. Typically these will be relatively challenging and require more time than the others. For the homework assignments, turn in your work for the extra problems along with the designated problem to turn in.

Homework, quiz, & exam policies

Homework & homework quiz policies

Weekly homework will be due on Fridays, but it will primarily not be turned in for credit. Each week you will turn in your work for a single homework problem. You will also have a weekly homework quiz that will open at midnight on Thursday night and close at midnight on Friday. This quiz will cover the remaining problems and will be available on moodle. Late quizzes will receive no credit. The lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.

Working in groups on homework is strongly encouraged, but quizzes must be completed individually.

Exam policies

All exams will be take home. Calculators will be allowed. Only ones own notes and the notes provided by the instructor will be allowed. Whether use of Matlab is allowed will be noted on the exam.

No exam may be taken early. Makeup exams require a doctor’s note excusing the absence during the exam.

Grading policies

Total grades in the course may be curved, but individual homework quizzes and exams will not be. They will be available on moodle throughout the semester.

Graded Homework
Homework Quizzes
Midterm Exam
Final Exam

Academic Honesty/Professionalism

What is Academic Integrity?

Saint Martin’s University is a community of faculty, students and staff engaged in the exchange of ideas in the ongoing pursuit of academic excellence. Essential to our mission is a focused commitment to scholarly values and intellectual integrity, and a respect for the ideas, beliefs and work of others. This commitment extends to all aspects of academic performance. All members are expected to abide by ethical standards both in their conduct and their exercise of responsibility to themselves and toward other members of the community. As an expression of our shared belief in the Benedictine tradition, we support the intellectual, social, emotional, physical and spiritual nurturing of students.

What is Academic Dishonesty?

Saint Martin’s University defines academic dishonesty as violating the academic integrity of an assignment, test and/or evaluation of any coursework. This dishonest practice occurs when you seek to gain for yourself or another an academic advantage by deception or other dishonest means. You have a responsibility to understand the requirements that apply to particular assessments and to be aware of acceptable academic practice regarding the use of material prepared by others. Therefore, it is your responsibility to be familiar with the policies surrounding academic dishonesty as these may differ from other institutions.

The Acceptable Use of AI in Coursework

Any use of technology that misleads a reviewer in assessing the student’s mastery of a specific set of skills or knowledge is a type of intellectual dishonesty, that is, a type of cheating. Students who are unsure about the appropriateness of using an artificial intelligence tool (or “AI”) should check with the instructor before using it. This includes the use of tools that generate text, images, video, code, and other works. If you are permitted by your instructor to use one or more AI tools in producing your work, you should disclose the use of that tool. You should say which tool you used and how you used it. Then if you use specific AI generated content (text, images, videos, audio, code, and so on) you should cite it in the style (APA, MLA, and so on) specified by your instructor.

University-Sanctioned Activities

If you are absent from class due to university-sanctioned activities, such as sports, it is your responsibility to request that the absence be excused; otherwise, the absence will be recorded as unexcused. Absent students are responsible for catching up with the class, and if any assignments are due on the day of the absence, it is your responsibility to turn in the assignments on time.

Counseling and Wellness Center

There may be times, as a college student, when personal stressors interfere with your academic performance and your daily life. The Counseling and Wellness Center supports students by addressing mental and emotional well-being with FREE and confidential services. To schedule an appointment, call 360-412-6123 or email [email protected] or stop by the CWC (1 st floor St. Raphael Center).

If you would rather not go to the CWC or need support in the evenings and weekends, please consider using the TimelyCare app ( to speak with a mental health provider, free, 24/7, from your phone or computer.

Center for Student Success

The Center for Student Success is an integrated learning assistance program that offers services for students at all levels of achievement in pursuit of intellectual growth and academic excellence. The Center offers peer tutoring, study support, first year/early major advising, and writing support. Please investigate ways in which to support your learning. The CSS is located in the lower level of O’Grady Library. You can sign up for tutoring appointments on the webpage:

Religious Accommodation Statement

Saint Martin’s University, in honor of the sacredness of the individual, and being deeply rooted in the Catholic Benedictine tradition of higher education, values the many religious and spiritual practices of our campus community. Saint Martin’s University supports our students in their ongoing journey of becoming. In compliance with Washington State Law RCW 28B.137.010, Saint Martin’s University reasonably accommodates students for reasons of religious observances.

Access and Accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Support Services (DSS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. If you have not yet established services through DSS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to mental health, attention- related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DSS at 360-438-4580 or [email protected] or [email protected]. DSS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DSS.  It is the policy and practice of the Saint Martin’s University to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harrassment Reporting

Saint Martin’s University is committed to providing an environment free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. There are Title IX/sexual harassment posters around campus that include the contact information for confidential reporting and formal reporting. Confidential reporting is where you can talk about incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. This confidential resource can help you without having to report your situation to the formal reporting process through the Dean of Students – Ms. Melanie Richardson, Associate VP of Human Resources – Ms. Cynthia Johnson, Public Safety – Ms. Sharon Schnebly, or the Office of the Provost – Dr. Tanya Smith-Brice, unless you request that they make a report. Please be aware that, in compliance with Title IX and under the Saint Martin’s University policies, educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. If you disclose any of these situations in class, on papers, or to me personally, I am required to report it.

Correlation of course & program outcomes

In keeping with the standards of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, each course is evaluated in terms of its desired outcomes and how these support the desired program outcomes. The following sections document the evaluation of this course.

Desired course outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the following course outcomes are desired:

  1. Students will understand the fundamentals of classical control theory.
  2. Students will be able to construct, understand, and use a root locus plot for controller design.
  3. Students will be able to construct, understand, and use Bode and Nyquist plots for controller design.
  4. Students will understand controller stability.
  5. Students will understand and be able to design PID-based and gain-lag-lead-based controller design.

Desired program outcomes

In accordance with ABET’s student outcomes, our desired program outcomes are that mechanical engineering graduates have:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Correlation of outcomes

The following table correlates the desired course outcomes listed along the left hand side with the desired program outcomes listed along the top.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7