June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Electrical and Computer
15.14.1 - 15.14.10
A Circuits Course for Mechatronics Engineering
A new course has been developed to serve as the sole circuit analysis course in a mechatronics engineering curriculum. Provision of adequate support for subsequent courses in the program required the omission of content traditionally found in Circuits I, the inclusion of content normally found in Circuits II, and the insertion of introductory material for some Circuits II content not covered in depth. Despite its unusual allocation of content, the course is also designed to serve as the first in a two-course sequence for electrical engineering majors, for whom the second course will cover topics that were either omitted or merely introduced in the first course.
This paper includes information such as the course prerequisites, description, outline, lecture coverage highlights, and outcomes. A brief discussion of the rationale for topic inclusion/exclusion is provided. The paper also includes information about the content of the course’s concurrent laboratory component, such as lab titles and outcomes. A student survey is analyzed to provide a preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of the course.
Mechatronics engineering is a relatively new degree program that integrates elements of electrical and mechanical engineering1. In essence, program graduates are prepared to design products in which circuits interact with mechanisms, especially in cases where the circuits provide digital control of the mechanisms. Robotics is a good example of a field that employs mechatronics engineers.
Since it is impractical for students in a hybrid program to complete all the required courses in its component programs, it should come as no surprise that the mechatronics engineering curriculum was limited to a single circuits course. Despite this fact, Circuits I needs to prepare students for subsequent courses in analog electronics, digital electronics, electric machines, and control systems. Thus, the presence of conflicting constraints necessitated some hard choices.
A secondary objective that was applied during the development phase of Circuits I was the desire for it to be able to serve as the first of a two-course sequence in an electrical engineering program. The motivations underlying this objective were simple: to avoid the need to offer distinct but highly similar courses in support of the respective programs and to provide more scheduling flexibility to students.
After obtaining a "wish list" of topics from sources in both industry and academia, it was decided to omit the in-depth treatment of transient analysis typically found in Circuits I and replace it with an in-depth treatment of sinusoidal analysis and AC power. Support for subsequent courses is achieved by including intermediate-level coverage of transient analysis and introductory-level coverage of mutual inductance, ideal transformers, transfer functions, frequency response, resonance, filtering, and two-port networks. The impact of this intermediate- and introductory- level content is maximized through the inclusion of relevant exercises in the concurrent lab.
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