Computers and Processes

Course Description

Computer systems in measurements, data acquisition, supervision and process control. Computer to process and process to computer adjustment. Sensor networks. Synchronous and asynchronous world (events). Computer architectures adjusted to the environment and real-time applications. Embedded microcomputers, network microcontrollers, programmable logic controllers (PLC). Ubiquitous and pervasive computing and new frontiers. Computer process interfaces. Standards, protocols, openness. Software support. Component programming (JavaBeans) and large systems integration. Measurement and control algorithms realized in assembler and high level languages. Operator-computer-process multimedia interfaces. Process data visualisation. Computers in production. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Distributed Control Systems (DCS).

General Competencies

Knowledge and skills necessary for design, deployment and maintenance of process computers and systems. Process computers software development and implementation. Understanding of interdisciplinary approach to process control problems, through teamwork and cooperation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. list important characteristics of process computers
  2. apply correct principles to computer-process interaction
  3. explain demands put on real-time systems
  4. choose appropriate micro-controller based on project demands
  5. choose appropriate communication protocols
  6. describe industrial control, supervisory and data acquisition systems
  7. employ important embedded development concepts
  8. identify role and organization of computers in a process

Forms of Teaching


The lecturer explains and illustrates topics. Students are encouraged to engage in discussion.


Student take short exams during lectures. Students also take midterm and final exams. Final exam is both written and oral.


During lectures, the lecturer exhibits hardware and software demos to illustrate points discussed in lecture.


Lecturers and teaching assistants are available for consult during office hours or by appointment.

Programming Exercises

Students are required to solve practical problems using concepts discussed on lectures. They do so by autonomously coding in various programming languages (assembly, C, ladder diagrams) using skills and knowledge acquired throughout their studies.

Grading Method

Continuous Assessment Exam
Type Threshold Percent of Grade Comment: Percent of Grade
Homeworks 0 % 24 % 0 % 24 %
Quizzes 0 % 12 % 0 % 12 %
Attendance 0 % 4 % 0 % 4 %
Mid Term Exam: Written 0 % 20 % 0 %
Final Exam: Written 0 % 25 %
Final Exam: Oral 15 %
Exam: Written 50 % 45 %
Exam: Oral 15 %

To access the oral exam / final exam it is necessary to collect a minimum of 45 points from all previous forms of verification.

Week by Week Schedule

  1. Introduction. Computer position and role from the most simplest processes to the most sophisticated (i.e. thermo/hydro power plants, industrial environment, houses, airplanes, traffic crossings, vehicles, space missions, remote measurements, de-mining,..).
  2. Sensors and interfaces for connection to the computer. Complex sensors (i.e. smelling, touching, mine detection,...).
  3. Definitions of process (in the broader sense), computer (as a part of the process) and interface between them. Different concepts of computer to process connection. Supervision, control, open/close loop, digital regulators (PID).
  4. Computer in process, physical position, geography, logical connection (hierarchical organization, parallel, set point,..), centralistic, distributed, network systems.
  5. Time. Real-time computing. Time in operating systems, generation, measurement, global positioning systems (GPS), time and distance, meteorological measurements based on the accurate time, standards and institutions, time synchronisation in distributed systems.
  6. Computer architectures dedicated for process control (standard and non standard criteria – dimensions, power consumption, geographical distribution, real-time applications. Three distinct approaches to micro-controller design.
  7. Clock. Types and principles of clock generation circuits, oscillators, time measurement. Pulse width modulation. General purpose pins. Practical aspects of A/D and D/A conversion.
  8. Mid-term exam.
  9. Microcontroller reliability. Specialized hardware for ensuring reliability. Energy consumption. Designing for low power consumption, working frequency. Voltage regulators, batteries, battery chemistry comparison.
  10. Types of memory used in micro controllers. Programming micro-controller persistent memory. Bootloader. Comparison between different types of microcontrollers. High level languages (HLL) – assembler relations, resources optimization related to the specific process.
  11. Communication interfaces, protocols and standards in computer processes. Technologies for connecting over short distances. Serial communications. Error detection and correction.
  12. Computer networks suitable for applications in processes. Comparison of classical internet and specialized protocols. Networks suitable for real time applications (i.e. CAN, ATM,...). Electromagnetic compatibility. Wireless networks. Spread spectrum technologies. WLAN, Bluetooth, Zigbee - network topology, basic characteristics.
  13. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) - architecture, programming, communication, example. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), human – machine interfaces. Examples of real-world SCADA systems.
  14. Component oriented programming - concepts, examples. Wireless sensor networks - applications, challenges, technologies, types of nodes, software and communication specifics, energy sources, routing and data aggregation problems, security. Examples. Course conclusion.
  15. Final exam.

Study Programmes

Electrical Engineering Systems and Technologies -> Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (Profile)

Software Engineering and Information Systems -> Computing (Profile)

Computer Engineering -> Computing (Profile)

Computer Science -> Computing (Profile)

Computer Science -> Computing (Profile)


Žagar, Mario (2002.), Arhitektura upravljačkih mikroračunala i njihovo povezivanje s okolinom, Školska knjiga
Smiljanić, Gabro (1991.), Računala i procesi, Školska knjiga
Adelstein, Frank & altri (2004.), Fundamentals of Mobile and Pervasive Computing, McGraw-Hill
Bennett, S. and Linkens, D.A. (Eds.) (1982.), Computer Control of Industrial Processes, IEEE 1081
Ronald J. Tocci, Neal Widmer, Greg Moss (2010.), Digital Systems: Principles and Applications (11th ed), Prentice Hall

Lecturers in Charge