Hot topics in Control Engineering for 2019

Think Again: Engineering salaries and career tips, object-oriented programming, rate-predictive control, Internet of Things (IoT) and career advice were among top articles posted on the Control Engineering website during 2019.

By Mark T. Hoske February 14, 2020

Hot Control Engineering topics posted in 2019 include engineering salaries and career tips, object-oriented programming, rate-predictive control, Internet of Things (IoT) communications, and engineering career tips among the most-visited Control Engineering articles during 2019.

See the top covers in 2019 as chosen by Michael Smith, Control Engineering creative director, on the topics of integrating design and simulation, knowing information and operational technologies, and robotic advances. See also top articles posted prior to 2019.

Think again about articles planned for 2020 at and contribute your expertise to next year’s hot topics.

Top 10 Control Engineering articles posted in 2019

The articles posted during 2019 at with the most clicks during 2019 follow. This metric obviously favors those posted earlier in the year. At the bottom of this article online, link to the top article rankings for articles posted later in 2019.

1. Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey, 2019, May 22: Engineers are getting paid more, although fewer expect to get increases in 2019; top factors for determining job satisfaction are feeling of accomplishment, technical challenge, and financial compensation.

2. Leverage object-oriented industrial programming, April 5: Plants and equipment are assembled from objects, so controls architecture should be too. New tools help industrial programmers deliver the productivity of object-oriented programming (OOP) without the complexity.

3. What is rate-predictive control, March 26: Advanced control: A new non-PID control algorithm, rate-predictive control (RPC), is adaptive to changes in process gain, which is helpful given the industry’s difficult history of loop tuning, auto-tuning, and model maintenance. RPC also can serve as a model-less feedback multivariable control algorithm.

4. MQTT’s role as an IoT message transport, Jan. 7: Messaging queuing telemetry transport’s (MQTT) role as an Internet of Things (IoT) message transport derives from its simple design, when it began as an industrial communicator for a pipeline supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

5. Choosing and managing an engineering career: 7 things to know, July 31: A well-managed engineering career means a lifetime career outside the rut. Apply these seven tips to manage a successful engineering career.

6. The future of IIoT software in manufacturing, Jan. 11: A guide to understanding and using data distribution service (DDS), time-sensitive networking (TSN), and OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) for advanced manufacturing applications.

7. IIoT-ready technologies improve machine controls, April 2: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies have the potential to improve user benefits through diagnostics, prognostics and predictive maintenance.

8. Shift in control system technologies, design, Sept. 11: Project execution using a process control system highly integrated virtual environment melds software and networking to uncouple control applications from physical equipment, and controllers from physical I/O. This reduces capital cost by shifting from customization to standardization and eliminating some non-value-added work.

9. Benefits of digitizing reality for workers in manufacturing, July 10: Digitizing reality is now possible for workers thanks to technology advances, such as the Internet of Things (IoT). This new reality allows workers to benefit from augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) to solve old problems in new and better ways.

10. Connect I/O systems with the IIoT, Oct. 3: Traditional wired input/output (I/O) connections are crucial for most automation systems. The latest generation of I/O systems bridges the gap to bring these connections into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Best covers of 2019

Continuing the “best of” theme, Smith offered views on the best 2019 cover designs.

April 2019: This cover illustrates some of the typical engineering workflow found in today’s production environments. Color design and art display presents the content in a very simple and striking manner allowing the audience to immediately connect with software integration.

November 2019: This cover works to highlight some of today’s modern advances in smart technologies by enabling wireless applications into palm of remote engineers.

December 2019: This cover is very attention-getting with use of a strong and simple robotic image integrated into the editorial message. The robotics industry is hot with new innovations, this one illustrates the use of adaptive-shape grippers, sure to get a lot of attention in the marketplace.

Engineering interaction: See all the covers of 2019 at Which is your favorite and why? Comment at the bottom of the article. (Please submit once and be patient: we review and approve comments weekly.)

Top 10 Control Engineering articles posted prior to 2019

Tutorials to help with automation and control represent hot-topic articles (most traffic) posted prior to 2019.

1. Five characteristics of cloud computing, 2017: Cloud computing’s characteristics and benefits include on-demand self-service, broad network access, and being very elastic and scalable.

2. The best engineering fields to enter after graduating college, 2015: Before committing to a college education, aspiring engineering students should research the field and take all factors into account to make the best decision about which area of engineering to pursue. The hottest engineering fields include electrical, mechanical, petroleum, and software, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3. Fundamentals of cascade control, 2014: Sometimes two controllers can do a better job of keeping one process variable where you want it.

4. Antenna basics, antenna types, antenna functions, 2014: Industrial wireless tutorials: What you need to know about industrial antennas, antenna functions, and antenna capabilities.

5. Stepper motor torque basics, 2018: Stepper motors remain popular because they are low-cost, rugged, simple, have high torque at startup and low speeds, require little maintenance, and they can operate in an open loop control system.

6. Understanding permanent magnet motors, 2017: A permanent magnet (PM) motor is an ac motor that uses magnets imbedded into or attached to the surface of the motor’s rotor. This article provides an elementary understanding behind the terminology, concepts, theory, and physics behind PM motors.

7. Understanding PID control and loop tuning fundamentals, 2016: PID loop tuning may not be a hard science, but it’s not magic either. Here are some tuning tips that work.

8. Open- vs. closed-loop control, 2014: Automatic control operations can be described as either open-loop or closed-loop. The difference is feedback.

9. How to select a motor for an industrial application, 2017: Understanding the main types of loads, motors, and applications can help simplify motor and accessory selection.

10. Tuning PID control loops for fast response, 2014: When choosing a tuning strategy for a specific control loop, it is important to match the technique to the needs of that loop and the larger process. It is also important to have more than one approach in your repertoire, and the Cohen-Coon method can be a handy addition in the right situation.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, Traffic ranking based on analytics performed by Chris Vavra, associate editor, Control Engineering, Cover analysis by Michael Smith, creative director, Control Engineering.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.