The control of systems, Mayuresh Kothare likes to say, is not only an enabling technology, but an invisible discipline as well.

“If a system works as it should,” says Kothare, “no one ever thinks about control. If a system fails, the first person to be blamed is the control engineer.”

Kothare, the R.L. McCann Associate Professor of chemical engineering, is co-director of Lehigh’s Center for Chemical Process Modeling and Control. He serves on the editorial boards of IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control and Automatica.

An expert in model-based controls, Kothare uses applied mathematics, modeling and simulation to obtain algorithms that control systems automatically. He has filed a patent for a microreactor that produces hydrogen through methanol reforming.

The success of Kothare’s Ph.D. students testifies to the ubiquitous need for control systems. One student recently joined Harvard’s Bauer Center for Genomics Research, where he develops feedback loops in cellular systems to help cells regulate their functions. Another was hired by Xerox for his background in MEMs, control theory and microreactors. A third works on control of polymerization reactors for petrochemical applications at ExxonMobil. A fourth develops control systems for GE, and a fifth teaches process control at the University of Kuwait.

Kothare is collaborating with ADCUS Inc., a semiconductor design company, to develop and embed Model Predictive Control technologies in a system-on-a-chip framework. Lehigh and ADCUS hope to download an entire computer control software program onto a chip. Applications include iPods, CD drive controllers, conventional control systems and an implantable biomedical device for insulin delivery, which could use an optical sensor to determine the optimal dose.

Kothare is co-principal investigator on the project with Mark Arnold, director of Lehigh’s Computer Architecture and Arithmetic Research Laboratory.

Kothare has a separate contract with General Dynamics to design and fabricate a control system for the gun and gun turret on a military tank.