Physical Modeling in Academia
Simulation enables students to incorporate systems adjacent to their area of focus, and gives them the freedom to explore designs without the risks and limitations of hardware testing. By enabling safe exploration of solutions and failures, students can develop optimized designs.
Simulation makes it possible for multidomain systems such as hybrid-electric vehicles and wind turbines to be the subject of labs or team design projects. Models of physical systems built using Simscape can cover mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and other domains, and these models can be combined with control systems modeled in Simulink and Stateflow. Exploring integrated systems helps students understand how design decisions at the subsystem level affect system-level performance.
Prototyping virtually through simulation lets your students quickly build and test many designs for labs and projects, which encourages creativity. They can perform tradeoff studies, such as testing hydraulic and electrical actuators, to select viable technologies or designs. In addition, they can visualize their systems in SimMechanics or Simulink 3D Animation.
Simulation lets your students investigate a much larger range of conditions and parameter values than is possible by testing with hardware. Because simulation removes the risk of damaging hardware, your students don’t feel pressured to stop exploring after finding one acceptable design. Instead, they can optimize their design, discover its true limits, and even see what happens when it fails. Parallel Computing Toolbox can speed up the large sets of simulations needed to fully test their design.
Optimization algorithms enable your students to find an optimized design. With Simulink Design Optimization, students can automatically tune parameters to meet various design criteria. Using MATLAB, they can automate tradeoff studies. They can postprocess the results of these studies using Simulink Report Generator to document how they arrived at the design with the best overall performance.
Even when not required, my friends and I would explore Simulink models to better understand how they worked and how they related to what we learned in class.
Manoj Mahendran, Arizona State University