Recent years have seen the emergence of technologically advanced sensors and actuators, the continued increase of computational capabilities at decreased costs, and a proliferation of communication networks, standards, and protocols. Concurrently, the demand for increased system performance in all areas of science and engineering has dramatically increased the applicability of automatic control.
While the potential impact of these recent developments is enormous, there is a corresponding increase in the complexity of the resulting control problems, and a solid mathematical foundation must be laid in place in order to fully exploit these added capabilities. In this talk, we address some fundamental theoretical issues which arise from controlling complex systems, and discuss several proof-of-concept experiments and test-beds that are being used to test and refine the control tools being developed and that are being used to motivate new research directions. We will also discuss the multi-disciplinary, systems engineering approach being used to a) construct these test-beds, b) actively involve undergraduate and Master of Engineering students in research, and thus prepare these students for both industrial practice and advanced degrees.