Blasts from the past & cutting edge control equipment all on the same day!

I got to revisit my old university stomping ground last week when I manned the Adept Scientific/Quanser stand at the 2014 UKACC Conference on Control at the University of Loughborough. It was a great opportunity to meet up with old lecturers, visit old haunts and see how things have advanced on campus, while making brand new connections with customers and contacts in the world of system control.

Visitors and exhibitors alike were keen to catch a glimpse of the latest control technology, and we put on a great show for them with our range of Quanser systems set up and running on our stand. These included the ultra-effective QUBE device, impressive Active Suspension System and the Ball and Beam module for the Rotary Servo Base Unit.

I also sat in on National Instruments’ instructional free workshop session during which PHD students got to try their hand at building a control system using Quanser’s Inverted Rotary Pendulum and NI’s CompactRIO controller.

Looking forward to UKACC 2016 which will be held at the Queen’s University, Belfast.

Why skydivers can’t just wing it!

Contrary to belief, there’s more to skydiving than just jumping out of a plane. Simply by moving your head, your arms or legs, you can dramatically affect your trajectory. Changes in pressure, resistance and turbulence will also alter your downward path through the air. This was the topic of exploration for students taking part in an Adept Scientific workshop during an Engineering Festival held at IWM Duxford last month. This unique regional event, which attracted over 500 students, was organised by STEM Team East to promote engineering and inspire young people to study science and maths at schools, as well as pursue careers in these areas.

During the workshop, students modelled the trajectory of a wingsuit-wearing skydiver and then explored the different sources of instability and aspects that might change the divers aerodynamics. They then used the Quanser QUBE-Servo to demonstrate that instability and show how you might use control theory to counter its effects. The assumption is that skydivers who have a better understanding of the different forces acting upon them are able to achieve a more controlled descent.

This popular workshop was just one of a range of practical activities on the day that gave students the chance to work with qualified engineers to solve engineering challenges and gain ‘on-the-job’ experience.

Find out more about this year’s event

Introducing Quanser’s QUBE-Servo – compact control equipment that squares better with tight budgets

Price is often the sticking point that stops engineering departments from being able to kit out their control labs with quality equipment capable of clarifying introductory control concepts and meeting their teaching requirements. So it’s a good job Quanser have launched a new low-cost, self-contained servomotor teaching platform that comes ready to go with fully integrated components, two quick-connect add-on modules (DC Motor and Inverted Pendulum) plus modular, topic-orientated digital courseware that cuts class prep-time and easily adapts to specific courses. Thanks to the new QUBE-Servo, you can build a world-class control lab for less!

Visit our QUBE-Servo web pages or download the latest datasheet to find out more. Contact your nearest Adept office for up-to-date information about pricing and availability.

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Keeping it real at Control 2012

Quanser is committed to providing practical, hands-on control learning tools, so when we set up the Adept/Quanser stand at this year’s UKACC International Conference on Control, we didn’t just want to offer the standard literature and brochures. We made sure our display stood out and gave visitors real-life working experiments to get their hands on, including Quanser’s Rotary Inverted Pendulum and Active Suspension system for teaching and research.

You can see the Inverted Pendulum in action at the event by viewing our short video here:

The 3-day conference brought together key contacts involved in teaching or researching engineering control. It offered a unique forum for sharing findings, comparing notes and networking with peers about new ways to enrich learning or advance research projects.

According to delegates, not surprisingly, the biggest issue among the academic and research community is lack of funding. They said, it’s easy to see the teaching merits of hands-on equipment, but blatant benefits won’t magic up extra money! Even if different departments join forces (and funds) with a view to creating multi-disciplinary control labs, not all equipment is flexible enough to work across curriculums, for students and researchers alike.

This is where Quanser’s building block approach comes into its own. Quanser’s family of modular Rotary Servo experiments allows professors to build their lab in stages, buying new equipment as and when funding is available. With over 30 labs to choose from, teachers can mix and match components to gain a multi-tasking facility capable of demonstrating control concepts from the most fundamental to the most advanced. What’s more Quanser hardware is future-proof, which means inevitable software upgrades won’t result in redundancy and replacement of your equipment. The inclusion of read-made curriculums with every experiment caused keen interest among time-pressed teachers looking for guidance and support to accelerate and simplify course planning.

It was great to see that Quanser’s offering fits perfectly with the needs and challenges control teachers and researchers face today.

Practical workshops wet students appetite for STEM-related careers

On Thursday 14th June, our maths, simulation and control product specialists took part in a STEM Fair at Imperial War Museum, Duxford. This hands-on activity event invited over 300 secondary school and A-level students to take part in a range of practical workshops led by scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians from well known organisations such as Napp Pharmaceuticals, Mott MacDonald, Marshall Engineering, The Royal Navy, The Army and many more. Workshops covered a range of topics from robot racing and spectroscopy in a suitcase, to crane building and vehicle aerodynamics. Over the course of the day, students gained invaluable work-related learning (seeing how STEM subjects apply to the real world) and career guidance (understanding what doors STEM learning opens).

Adept’s team ran a series of mathematical modelling and control workshops, where students got to see Quanser’s Inverted Pendulum experiment in action (view a movie of the working pendulum here), then model the complete system using graphical components in MapleSim multi-domain modelling software and design a control loop that maintains the pendulum upright. Our mission was to get students excited about the endless possibilities today’s cutting-edge technical software and hardware can offer. This experiment never fails to impress and students left the workshop engaged and enthused by their practical application of physics and control theories.

I, Quanser

We live in a world where technology is slowly taking over (well, it feels like it sometimes) and I find myself wondering what the future holds. Are we all going to wake up one day and find ourselves in an I, Robot existence? Or are we forever destined to reach for those robot shaped stars?

I watched a film recently which is basically about a group of rag dolls who find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world fighting against a giant evil machine. The film is much better than I make it sound and I am going somewhere with this, trust me. Turns out the giant evil machine was created in order to create other machines to protect the human race and had been designed to be super intelligent (I’m sure it would be able to make tea and wash dishes too) but ended up making fellow evil machines that wiped out the human race instead (woops!). In short, the moral of the story was that although the evil genius machine could build anything it wanted, it could never have a soul.

Believe it or not, this got me thinking about future technology (see the link there…no? It’s definitely there, wait for it…). Now although I’m fairly certain that we won’t end up in a post-apocalyptic world having been wiped out by evil machines, or at least I hope not, I do wonder how far we will push the limits. Like so many things in this world, one cannot exist without another. Move over chicken and egg, humans and Artificial Intelligence is the new dilemma! We are the creators, the developers, the designers of all things AI, but can they survive without us? Will machines ever be intelligent enough to evolve without people?

As much as I would like to think I will live forever and be around to see where all this technology is going, I will have to leave that to the engineers of the future. This doesn’t mean we can just sit back and relax and let the next generation take care of things though; it is our job to build the foundations. We are already seeing AI in the news in the form of robots playing football, giving health advice, and autonomous vehicles providing vital support out in the field, and it amazes me to look back on how far we have come in the past 10 years – imagine how far the next 10 will take us!

With this in mind, we need to prepare. Not in a post-apocalyptic manner by buying too many canned goods and moving into our basements, but in the sense that we need to educate and inspire the minds of tomorrow. With the increasing pressure to bring up the numbers of engineering graduates, and especially those with experience, we need to offer more than just theory. We need them to apply this theory, make decisions, and design their own experiments and procedures. They need to be graduating not only with their degree certificates in hand, but with hands-on experience they can apply to the real world.

From Undergraduate teaching to Postgraduate research projects, the need for exciting, interesting and applicable labs is essential, and when I started at Adept Scientific and was introduced to the world of Quanser and their teaching and research lab solutions, I wished I was back at University! From teaching control with the SRV-02 servo plants combined with their range of rotary experiments, exploring the capabilities of unmanned vehicle systems to researching the effects of earthquakes on structures, Quanser has a solution, and as someone lucky enough to have gotten my hands on some of these systems, I can tell you first hand….they are inspirational!

Celebrity Professor showcases Quanser-enabled remote signing technology

Dr Michael Grimble endorses new control systems technology presented at the American Control Conference.

Seattle, Washington: Celebrated UK-based engineering professor, Michael Grimble, today put pen to paper in a way he has never done before at the 2008 American Control Conference (ACC) the premier annual gathering of the world’s foremost thinkers in the realm of advanced control.

In an ACC first, Grimble, a professor of industrial systems at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and founder of the UK-based Industrial Control Centre, played a critical role in an open demonstration of the Quanser-enabled LongPen™, Unotchit’s global breakthrough in advanced control systems that realised author Margaret Atwood’s vision for remote book signing technology. The LongPen is designed using Quanser’s real-time control software which is seamlessly integrated with The MathWorks Simulink graphical design environment.

Grimble signed several copies of his latest book, Industrial Control Systems Design: Approach for Advanced Polynomial Systems, using the famous LongPen as a crowd of onlookers watched the famous device at work.

“It gave me great pleasure to be a part of the demonstration,” Grimble said, “not only to demonstrate the LongPen system’s obvious capabilities to help out authors, but also to illustrate to my peers in education and research that such technology is capable of many other applications, from medical to industrial in nature.”

“We are so pleased to have had Professor Grimble play such a big part in the demonstration,” said Paul Gilbert, CEO of Quanser. “To have such a highly regarded name play a role in showing off the technology validates our commitment to developing industry-relevant curriculum and control systems for education or research.”

Over 1,200 universities worldwide have implemented Quanser’s industry-relevant curriculum and cutting-edge workstations to teach introductory or advanced controls to students in a wide range of engineering disciplines, from mechanical to mechatronics to aerospace and civil engineering.

When he finished demonstrating the LongPen device Grimble, who also acts as director of the Industrial Club on Advanced Control Technology, which is supported by the UK’s Department of Trade & Industry, was presented live and in-person by Quanser’s Director of Business Development, Keith Blanchet, and engaged the audience in a Q&A session about all things control.

About Quanser

Founded in 1990, Quanser is a world leader in the innovation and development of advanced control systems for industry, education and research. Quanser develops control systems for educational laboratories and research. Their flexible, hi-performance control solutions also help take concepts from design to manufacture to OEM implementation. Quanser’s flexible state of the art control technology is currently employed worldwide for teaching, research and industrial applications including aerospace, robotics, medical assistive devices and the emerging field of haptics.

For more information about Quanser, visit www.quanser.com.

As well as control hardware, Quanser has developed a range of software that works seamlessly with their systems; and a set of curriculum guides that lead the student through a series of experiments designed to maximise their understanding. Hardware, software and both student and instructor guides are integral parts of the Quanser package.

The Quanser range of control training systems is available now from Adept Scientific in the UK and Ireland; more details are at http://quanser.adeptscience.co.uk.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

Quanser Control Training Systems Added to Adept Scientific Product Range

The acclaimed modular range of control design systems for education and research is now supplied and supported by Adept in the UK and Ireland

Adept Scientific (Letchworth, Herts.) is delighted to announce that it has been chosen by Quanser (Markham, Ontario), the world leader in real-time control design systems for education and research, as UK distributor of its acclaimed range of modular control training equipment.

Quanser control training equipment delivers an end-to-end solution for training students in control theory and practice, in universities and other educational establishments and in research or industrial environments with rigorous development and testing deadlines. Its products can be found in more than 1,000 institutions worldwide. Its activities are growing exponentially, and in response to this, the company is in the process of appointing what they consider to be “exceptional distributors” in various territories around the world.

The Quanser range incorporates a very broad choice of hardware and software modules for linear and rotary motion, mechatronic and speciality applications, so students have everything they need to design, implement and test control systems. They learn by tackling real-world engineering problems using real, high-quality kit, and hone their practical skills with a thorough understanding of control theory principles.

Uniquely, Quansar systems are modular, so users can build on the base components to extend the number of experiments available as and when they require them. This reduces the overall cost per experiment and makes the Quanser system very affordable.

This modularity also makes the system highly flexible. You can mix and match a limited range of components to perform many different experiments of varying complexity, and by adding and removing various modules you extend the functionality and create a greater variety of experiments and challenges for students to explore.

Every linear and rotary motion system is supplied with a state feedback controller; and control systems are supplied with complete mathematical modelling as well as detailed system parameters to help streamline the selected implementation.

As well as control hardware, Quanser has developed a range of software that works seamlessly with their systems; and a set of curriculum guides that lead the student through a series of experiments designed to maximise their understanding. Hardware, software and both student and instructor guides are integral parts of the Quanser package.

The Quanser range of control training systems is available now from Adept Scientific in the UK and Ireland; more details are at http://quanser.adeptscience.co.uk.

With offices in the UK, USA, Germany and throughout the Nordic region, Adept Scientific is one of the world’s leading suppliers of software and hardware products for research, scientific, engineering and technical applications on desktop computers.

For the time being we are unable to offer the following product ranges although we are currently working hard to increase the number of products we can offer in the future. Please contact us to talk about alternative products that we may be able to offer you.