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An Innovative Mechatronics Course For A Traditional Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.74.1 - 4.74.9

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P. M. Wild

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B. W. Surgenor

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2566

An Innovative Mechatronics Course for a Traditional Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

P.M. Wild, B.W. Surgenor Department of Mechanical Engineering Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario


Many Mechanical Engineering Departments have recently or are now developing programs and/or courses in mechatronics. The emphasis of these programs/courses varies from institution to institution. The programs at four Canadian universities are described briefly and a new elective course in mechatronics at Queen’s University is described in detail. The primary objective of the course is to create a sense of opportunity and excitement about mechatronics system design. This course focuses on the practical implementation of simple mechatronic systems with particular emphasis on the electronics for conditioning and interfacing of sensor signals and driver control signals. The laboratory portion of the course is based on the Basic Stamp II, a user friendly microcontroller from Parallax Inc. By the end of the course, students understand a relatively simple system of sensors and actuators under the supervision of a microprocessor engaged in on/off or simple PID control.

1. Introduction

Mechatronics is a word which means different things to different people. Mechatronics can be a philosophy of design which brings together many disciplines in concurrent engineering environment. Mechatronics can be the extension of this philosophy into complete system modeling and simulation. Mechatronics can simply refer to systems with sensors, actuators and embedded microprocessor control. It has also been said that mechatronics is, “simply good design practice” [1], or that it is really all about, “getting ME’s and EE’s to work in harmony”[2].

When it comes to designing a mechatronics curriculum or course, it is not at all clear where the emphasis should lie. It can be argued that a student of mechatronics engineering “should complete two undergraduate degrees, one in mechanical and the other in electrical engineering [followed by] graduate-level work in systems design and control theory”[3]. On the other hand, one might argue that very few people have the ability to assimilate and integrate the breadth of knowledge required to become a “mechatronics engineer”. If this premise is accepted, then mechatronics education should be about technical specialization with teamwork skills.

Over the past decade, many mechatronics courses and programs have come into existence. As far as we can determine, every one of these initiatives has originated in a mechanical engineering department. This is particularly significant in light of the fact that engineering curricula, in

Wild, P. M., & Surgenor, B. W. (1999, June), An Innovative Mechatronics Course For A Traditional Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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