Welcome to the Pangborn Advanced Controls Lab
We are a systems and control lab at The Pennsylvania State University, directed by Assistant Professor Herschel C. Pangborn. Broadly speaking, we study the science of automated decision-making in systems, optimizing the design and real-time operation (i.e., control) of systems with high societal relevance.
Our research enables new paradigms in the performance, safety, efficiency, and sustainability of energy systems in vehicles and buildings. Key to achieving this objective is our systems-level approach to control and design, which enables coordination across multiple components, timescales, and physical domains. The systems we study include electrified aircraft, hybrid cars, and thermal management systems in buildings and vehicles.
In addition to achieving our technological goals, we also train the next generation of engineers to address exigent challenges and opportunities in control theory, energy systems, and sustainability. This inspires our student-centric mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students in research and professional development. Our program is oriented around providing students with the experience and expertise to achieve their career goals following graduation.
PAC Lab Group Photo (Fall 2023):
Back row: Josh, Joe, Conner, Dr. Pangborn, Jacob, Adim
Front row: Jonah, Jake, Andrew, Courtney, Michael, Kaelea
Not pictured: Seho, Bhavya
PAC Lab Principal Investigator, Dr. Herschel Pangborn, in front of an experimental testbed developed to support his research
Infrared video showing the storage and transport of thermal energy within a testbed (played faster than real time)
Our systems-based approach intersects three areas:
Modern energy systems are often too complex for decision-making to be governed by a single, centralized controller. We develop hierarchical and distributed control frameworks that employ a network of communicating controllers to coordinate decision-making across multiple components, timescales, and physical domains. Predictive control methods allow these frameworks to take proactive action in optimizing system behavior. We also specialize in the control of systems that exhibit switched dynamic behavior and/or have actuators with discrete modes of operation. Contributions to control theory establish guarantees on performance and safety, while closed-loop experimental application bridges the theory-practice gap. We also investigate systems-level design approaches to optimize architecture selection and component sizing for energy systems.
We employ a combination of physics-based and data-driven methods to capture energy system dynamics across a range of timescales and physical domains. In modeling energy systems, we focus on capturing the most salient dynamic behaviors while retaining a level of computational simplicity that allows models to be leveraged for system-level design and real-time feedback control.
The electrification of energy systems is a technological megatrend that has transformed buildings, aircraft, automobiles, and naval ships. With electrification, the ability to manage thermal and electro-thermal interactions within energy systems has increasingly become the limiting factor of their capabilities. The modeling, design, and control approaches developed by our lab enable increased power/energy density and decreased operating costs, while bringing new paradigms in performance, safety, efficiency, and sustainability.
Jonah Glunt was featured in a PSU news article recognizing his NDSEG Fellowship.
Congrats to Josh Robbins for passing the ME Qualifying Exam!
The PAC Lab presented a paper at the 2023 Modeling, Estimation and Control Conference in Lake Tahoe, NV.
The PAC Lab welcomes graduate researcher Jacob Sichlau!
The PAC Lab presented two papers at the 2023 IEEE Conference on Control Technology and Applications in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The PAC Lab presented one paper at the 2023 AIAA Aviation Forum in San Diego, CA.
Congrats to Joe Broniszewski on receiving an Erickson Discovery Grant!
The PAC Lab presented one paper at the 2023 American Control Conference in San Diego, CA.
Congrats to former PAC Lab member Ian Rivera on receiving the Astronaut Scholarship!
Congrats to M.S. student Jason Lord and B.S. students Carly Dunford and Madison O'Hara on completing their degrees! Jason will be working for Pratt & Whitney, Carly will be working for Boeing, and Carly will be working for Lockheed Martin.
The PAC Lab welcomes undergraduate researcher Bhavya Jain!
Congrats to Carly Dunford for completing her undergraduate Honors Thesis!
Congrats to Jonah Glunt for receiving the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Award! Jonah also received Honorable Mention for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).
Honored to be a co-author on this year's American Control Conference Best Student Paper! It was great to present our work on two collaborative projects at ACC.