Control system design packages like MATLAB, MATRIX x, Control C, SIMNON, etc. have become essential ingredients of both undergraduate and graduate courses in the systems and controls area. This work describes our experience, at the Great Valley Campus of the Pennsylvania State University, with the use of one of these packages, namely MATLAB with its Control Systems, Signal Processing, and Symbolic Math Toolboxes in Optimal Control and Linear Control Systems courses. This paper will also present the MATLAB features that are found most useful in these two courses in enhancing students' understanding of the material. The emphasis will be on presenting some of the features of the MATLAB which can be used to produce interactive simulations, using user interface controls, and analytical solutions. Examples illustrating these features will be included and the actual code will be posted at a site on the World Wide Web. The address of the site will be given during the conference. A discussion of how MATLAB helps in reducing the amount of time spent in performing computational homework assignments will follow. Finally, the general student reaction to incorporating this software package into these courses will be reported.
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