Programmable Logic Controllers: What Every Controls Curriculum Needs to Cover


The field of automatic control has been undergoing a transformation over the past thirty years. The number of control engineering positions in manufacturing has been dramatically increasing to the point that the majority of new control engineering positions is now in manufacturing and involves programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The typical college or university has been slow to recognize this trend. This paper describes three courses that were developed to satisfy this demand. All three courses present the subject of programming PLCs with an emphasis on the engineering and the design of the programs. These courses contain an integral laboratory component that solidifies the concepts presented in the lectures. Best practices for PLC design and the application of standards are also key content elements. The philosophy and pedagogical features of the three courses are first described, followed by the structure of the lecture and the laboratory exercises. The paper concludes with assessment results. In the author's opinion, every university that teaches control system courses should have at least elective one course devoted to PLC programming, the basic one described in this paper.

Meeting Name

126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 (2019: Jun. 15-19, Tampa, FL)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2019 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2019