Engineering Capstone Senior Design - UAV Control Workshop

Michael Thorburn
California State University-Los Angeles


This is a workshop for a Senior Design program, servicing some needs across multiple projects.

There are 200+ students in class. Perhaps 20-30 working on UAV or related technologies.

Course Size:
greater than 150

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

Senior Design is a year-long required class for all Engineering majors. Students work in teams of ~5 on projects, often sponsored by industrial clients. Each project has a faculty advisor or an volunteer advisor from industry.

Course Content:

All aspects of design are covered in Senior Design. In most cases a physical prototype of the design is the deliverable at the end of the project. For the UAV projects, the most common deliverable is the controller - whether the UAV is piloted or flies autonomously.

Course Goals:

The students will be able to develop a control algorithm that can be successfully ported onto a UAV and demonstrated to smoothly and safely perform flight objectives.

Course Features:

This course is a learn-by-doing class. Students are giving objectives and performance requirements and then, with the help of an advisor, determine the design and carry out the implementation.

Course Philosophy:

The course is intended to help students transition from university to an industrial engineering design environment.


We have a large EXPO at the end of the year, inviting faculty and students from across the college, as well as alumni, project clients and industrial partners.

References and Notes: