Receive 6.0 continuing education units (CEUs), which are transferable into college hours.

Welcome to the 1999 correspondence course offered through Iowa State University. EC&M is sponsoring this year’s course on a topic important to the entire electrical industry: Electrical, Electronic, and Computerized Controls.

While a host of new specialties have come along recently, none have the track record of control work. Other specialties may come and go, but control work always pays. Microprocessor technology is making all sorts of things possible and cheap. Distributed-intelligence controls, as one example, work by putting a $1 chip in each piece of equipment in a facility, and then programming each one to perform a series of functions and communicate with all the other chips. No central controller is involved, yet the entire control system is many times faster, more secure, and more flexible than any other type of control system. Whether you are an electrician, a contractor, or an engineer, being able to do control work makes you more valuable to the people who pay you. This was true fifty years ago, and will be true fifty years from now.

In this course, we’ll cover the entire spectrum of control work; both old and new. This will make the course useful to people new to control work, as well as to experienced people who need to get up to speed on the new computerized control methods.

The outline of this year’s course is as follows:

Lesson 1: Introduction/The Application of Controls

Lesson 2: Basic Wired Controls

Lesson 3: Process Controls

Lesson 4: Low-voltage Controls

Lesson 5: Programmed Controls

Lesson 6: Distributed Intelligence Controls

Lesson 7: Motor Controls

Lesson 8: HVAC Control Wiring

Lesson 9: Programmable Logic Controllers

Lesson 10: Home Controls

Lesson 11: Building Control systems

Lesson 12: Pneumatic Controls

In the past few years, more than 2000 professionals earned credits taking our annual courses in fiber optics, energy-efficient lighting, and data communications. We continue to receive a stream of letters from appreciative students. I trust you will also benefit from taking this course.

The training comes directly to you at a reasonable cost. Successful graduates receive 6.0 continuing education units (CEUs) that are transferable into college hours (frequently required to maintain professional certifications). The certificate of completion is also nice to have as a professional certification you can show to customers or employers.

How the course works. Our students find the courses easy to take and the material easy to follow. Though you will not be in a traditional classroom environment, you can ask questions or get clarifications from the instructor at any time—via phone, fax, or e-mail.

Here are a few details about the course:

  • Iowa State University, College of Engineering, Department of Continuing Education administers the course. You must register for the course with the University (See registration, form on page 35), and pay your registration fee directly to the university. (Do not call EC&M.) Beginning with the February issue, EC&M will run one article per issue based on one of the course lessons.

  • The course is conducted completely by correspondence. You get all of your lessons by U.S. mail, along with the textbook and exercises, about two weeks after you register. (The cost of the textbook is included in the course fee.) After you complete your lessons and exercises, you send them back to the instructor. He will grade your papers and send your results to the university office. You are encouraged to contact the instructor with any questions you have on the course material.

  • Most students spend between two and six hours on each of the 12 lessons. How quickly you complete the course depends on you. Each lesson concludes with an exam and one or more exercises.

  • A few weeks after you finish the course, you will receive a certificate of completion from Iowa State University, along with a certificate for 6.0 continuing education units (CEUs). You must complete all segments of the course to gain the credit; We will not award partial credit. The Department of Extended and Continuing Education will permanently record the credits.

  • You must complete all course work by April 1, 2000 to receive credit.

  • There are no prerequisites for this course, although it assumes a general understanding of electricity.

The new possibilities. We don’t have enough space left in this introductory article to cover the specific operational technical details of control systems. But, we will in future articles. Instead, we’ll leave you with a few examples of uses of some new types of controls. Keep in mind that we can globally coordinate and control things we are now doing in individual facilities, via the Internet. Huge improvements are afoot.

Example #1: In a factory warehouse, a forklift approaches a conveyor belt to pick up a pallet for an outside shipment. As the forklift approaches, the conveyor belt activates to position the pallet properly for loading, then turns off when the job is complete. At the same time, an electronic record enters in the inventory control system to track the movement of the pallet from the warehouse to the shipping department.

In this application, the forklift contains a node (a node is a single control location) that uses radio frequency for communication with the conveyor belt node. In turn, the conveyor belt node uses twisted pair media to communicate with power actuators and interfaces to the inventory control system.

Example #2: An intruder enters a secured area. A motion detector, connected to other motion detectors with twisted pair wiring, sends a message to the power line-based lighting system to illuminate the intruder’s area. With radio frequency, a message moves to sound the alarm at the security entrance. The security gate receives the message over the power lines. Security, in turn, closes the gate to seal off the area so the intruder cannot exit.

Example #3: A large convention hall is holding an art exhibition. The facility keeps the lighting at a low level so certain pieces of art have specific lighting types. A day later a cooking exhibition moves into the same space as well as two adjoining spaces. This customer requires lighting at full brightness. Since so much heat generates on the show floor (300 broilers, all showing their stuff), extra coolers must be brought on-line, and cycling duties modified.

With computerized controls, this scenario isn’t a nightmare. Using new technologies, the facility can accommodate both shows—without changing the wiring and without more than two well-trained electricians.

In the first full lesson. In Lesson 1 (February issue), we’ll cover several control technologies and their applications, explaining where and why you would use specific technologies and giving a comparative overview of the entire spectrum of control schemes.