10.450 | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate

Process Dynamics, Operations, and Control


A list of topics by lecture is available in the calendar listed below.

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Course Description

In learning a new subject, we must receive information in sequence - following a path through multidimensional space. It is like entering a large building with unlighted rooms, holding a dim flashlight and clutching a vague map that omits some of the stairways and passages. How best to learn one’s way around? In these lessons we will attempt to move through a significant portion of the structure - say, half a textbook - in about two weeks. Then we will repeat the journey several times, each time inspecting the rooms more thoroughly. By this means we hope to gain, from the start, a sense of doing an entire process control job, as well as approach each new topic in the context of a familiar path.

Course Objectives

As a student, you will learn about:

  • Systems that vary in time, with some tools for attacking the problems
  • Single-loop feedback control of processes - concepts, terminology, methods, and performance
  • Some ways to enhance feedback control
  • Some of the hardware used in a control system

I will show you:

  • How to represent dynamic systems by equations and by transfer functions in block diagrams
  • How to solve linear, constant-coefficient ODEs by Laplace transform and numerical methods
  • How dynamic systems respond to disturbances, particularly pulse, step, and oscillatory
  • How to calculate and use the frequency response of a system
  • How to estimate the stability limits for a system, with or without control
  • How to tune a single-loop controller for better response
  • How to enhance feedback control with cascade, feedforward, and model-based structures
  • An overview of sensors, valves, transducers, controllers - both hardware and performance considerations


The prerequisites for this course include Differential Equations (18.03) and Transport Processes (10.302).


Marlin, Thomas E. Process Control. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2000. ISBN: 9780070393622. 
This book has lots of material, good explanations, and an industrial/applied point of view. Get it, if you plan to practice chemical engineering.

Seborg, Dale, Thomas Edgar, and Duncan Mellichamp. Process Dynamics and Control. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003. ISBN: 9780471000778. 
They have managed to be both comprehensive and concise. Excellent reference.

Grading Policy

Course letter grades will be assigned on the conventional scale: A>= 90% and so on. The evaluation will be based on the Activities listed below.

Two In-class Hour-examinations 26%
The two hour-examinations reworked out of class (up to 5 bonus points will be added to the grade for creativity in presentation) 14%
Problem Sets 25%
Paper on a Process Control Topic (specifications given in assignments section) 20%
Some number of unannounced, In-class Quizzes 8%
A one-hour meeting with the instructor (you must schedule it during the term; prepare to discuss recent course topics, and to explain where you most need to improve your understanding) 7%

The Daily Grind

The course is arranged around eight lessons, for which notes will be provided. Use library textbooks as needed to supplement the presentation in the notes. Class time will be used to amplify, apply, and explain the material in the notes. Look for due dates in the calendar, lecture notes in the lecture notes section, and problem sets in the assignments section.


We learn better if we examine the input as we receive it. At the end of each class, please submit the fix-it form. The fix-it asks

  1. What was the most important thing you learned?
  2. What topic or point was least clear?

Of course additional comments, questions, requests, etc., are welcome, as well. If you use fix-its earnestly, you will benefit.

Late Submission of Work

Assigned work is due at noon on the dates given in the schedule. Extensions cost 10 percent for each 24-hour period beyond the deadline, up to a maximum of 30 percent. Medical and beyond-your-control problems will be dealt with individually. Plant trips and other scheduled activities are not beyond your control - allocate your time to accomplish all your obligations.


The table below gives information about lecture material and due dates for the assignments.

1 Introduction to Processes and Systems  
2 Math Review Problem set 1 due
3-7 The Blending Tank Problem set 2 due in Lec #5
8-13 Two Tanks in Series

Problem set 3 due

Problem set 4 due in Lec #11

14 Operability of Processes Problem set 5 due
15 Exam 1 (Lessons 1-4)  
16-17 Operability of Processes (cont.) Reworked exam 1 due in Lec #17
18-20 The Heated Tank Problem set 6 due in Lec #20
21-26 The Exothermic Reactor

Problem set 7 due in Lec #23

Problem set 8 due in Lec #26

Paper topic due in Lec #26

27-31 Higher-order Overdamped Systems

Problem set 9 due in Lec #28

Problem set 10 due in Lec #31

32-34 Cascade and Feed Forward Control Schemes Problem set 11 due in Lec #34
35 Exam 2 (Lessons 5-7)  
36-39 Cascade and Feed Forward Control Schemes (cont.)

Reworked exam 2 due in Lec #37

Paper due in Lec #38

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2006
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets
Written Assignments