Why I Want to Obtain a Specialization in Dynamics and Controls

Published: 2021-09-14 15:00:11
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Category: Learning, Human Body, Africa

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I was born in a large city in Nigeria as the last child in a family of seven. I had the luxury of learning from the experiences of my parents and elder siblings who are all medical doctors making significant strides in medicine. However, I am the exception, as I was not intrigued by the intricacies of the human body, as much as those of electromechanical systems. It was no coincidence that my most treasured item as a child was Hot Toy’s 1998 miniature bat-mobile; a battery-powered toy car, which used sensors to avoid obstructions. Perhaps moments in my childhood playing with that toy gave birth to a passion for automation. My growing passion towards control engineering was threatened by the brazen corruption existing in the education sector of Nigeria. Consequently, I applied and got accepted to study Mechanical Engineering (BSc.) at the most prestigious university in West Africa: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana (KNUST).
At the university, it was not a difficult decision for me to focus my concentration around System Dynamics and Control; hence I took courses like Automatic Control, Mechanism Synthesis and Analysis, Mechatronics, Instrumentation & Measurement, and Vibrations. My enthusiasm for these courses is evident in my excellent grades in all of them. I complimented my learnings by taking up research projects in this domain. In my third year, I was involved in a study oriented research project which was based on experimenting on a new technique for tuning PID-based controllers, together with methods for assessing their performance under Dr. Andrew Selasi Agbemenu, an assistant professor at KNUST. The research also sculpted the damaging effect of erratic border sequences on the tuning of PID controllers and proposed enhancements to the tuning formulas to overwhelm this limitation. I also inspired and led a team of three undergraduate students to design and construct intelligent robots capable of identifying their ‘masters’. For my final year project, I was elected to lead my project team that consisted of four students to design and construct a vehicle for agricultural activities. The multidisciplinary nature of these projects enabled me to put my theoretical knowledge to practical use. Furthermore, working on these projects helped me to improve my teamwork and leadership skills.After my undergraduate studies, I wanted to test my interest and skills in an industrial setting, so I sought an internship which could provide some research experience in ‘System Dynamics and Control’. I found that opportunity at Trident Technologies (a private company that provides electrical and programming needs to local based Engineering companies in Nigeria), where I was involved in the programming of PID and Fuzzy Logic Controllers. During this internship program, I worked with Dr. Innocent Agbo, the Head of the Research Department, in a research project titled: ‘Crude Oil Pipeline Anti-Sabotage Security System using a Fuzzy System’. The strategy employed allowed for better identification of leakages because the thresholds were adjusted by the fuzzy system as a function of the running mode and a classified transient level. The results were very encouraging with relatively low levels of false alarms, obtaining increased anti-theft detection with low computational costs. The project provided insights into the growing scope of control engineering and how I can develop solutions using my knowledge and skills. We also designed a Pipeline Pigging robot and a Network-Based control platform for robotic systems. This particular project taught me how to design interfaces between mechanical and electrical parts and control a robot using Data Socket Protocol. Furthermore, my current employment as a Control Systems Engineer at Chenotech Nigeria Limited (a privately owned company that provides engineering services to oil and gas industries in Nigeria) permits me to work on innumerable oil and gas related control systems. I have learned to appreciate the importance of research and the amount of effort required to transform ideas become reality.
Certainly, undergraduate studies gave me a staunch notional background in programming and electronics, however, the parameters of courses offered a slim margin for specialization in ‘Control Engineering’, which I am unaffectedly enthusiastic about. Much of the specialized work in control engineering which involves integration and advanced technological development take place only in Graduate Programs, and this drives me to pursue my masters in Mechanical Engineering from the prestigious Purdue University, with my primary area of interest being Control Engineering. I have been following the research conducted at Purdue’s Zucrow Labs, Herrick Labs, and Birck Nanotechnology Centre for quite some time now and I am interested in research topics like The Control of Advanced Combustion Processes conducted by Professor Gregory M. Shaver and The Development of Intelligent and Precision Control algorithms shepherded by Professor Bin Yao.
After my master’s program, I would like to continue my work by either pursuing a Ph.D. or working in a central research lab for Ferrari or Mercedes. Perhaps, this desire was conceived because of that bat-mobile toy I owned as a kid. Few years down the road, I would like to take up Research and Teaching as my profession and pass on my knowledge and experience to the next generation. I like to discuss problems and ideas with others and collaborating with the diverse pool of students and Professors at Purdue will help me grow faster while bringing in my own views to the table.
I would like to state that I believe that my projects and researches in this domain and my hands-on experience with Computer Simulation and Statistical Analysis software programs have provided me a fundamental understanding of Control Engineering, which have prepared me for graduate studies at Purdue. I enjoy the synergistic aspect of working in a team towards a common challenge and I am determined to work very hard in the coursework and research activities that I will encounter. I look forward to continuing my education at the Purdue University.

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