Improving the Teaching of Discrete-Event Control Systems Using a LEGO Manufacturing Prototype


This paper discusses the usefulness of employing LEGO as a teaching-learning aid in an exceedingly post-graduate-level initial course on the management of discrete-event systems (DESs). The ultimate assignment of the course is presented, which asks students to design and implement a modular hierarchical discrete-event supervisor for the coordination layer of an entire automated producing system (AMS) designed using LEGO blocks. A design approach frequently used in manufacturing is introduced to unify design criteria and nomenclature. Software tools are provided for all calculation and translation tasks required for the implementation of the supervisor design in an exceedingly programmable logic controller (PLC). The assignment reinforces all the essential ideas of supervisory control theory taught throughout the course. It provides hands-on experience of the advantages and downsides and of the necessary theoretical and practical problems connected to the use of DES controllers in an engineering application.

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