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Building the Bridge Between Mechanical Curricula and Practical Application through a Mechatronic Project

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: Mechatronics & Simulation

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lan He Beihang University

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Dr. He Lan is a doctoral student in the Institute of Higher Education, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He Lan has done some researches to solve the problem of separation between theory and practice in Higher Engineering education, hoping to provide some reference for the development of Engineering education.

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Jingjun Yu Beihang University

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Professor Yu Jingjun has been devoted to the teaching and research of mechanical engineering. He has undertaken the teaching of six undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and presided over a number of research projects. He aims to help students turn the knowledge in class into practical ability to the greatest extent by means of carrying out educational and teaching research as well as adhereing to the concept of "research-based teaching".

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At present, China's higher engineering education has made great progress, but there are still many problems, among which the most prominent problem is the separation between curricula setting and students' practical application. On the one hand, the curriculum setting still follows the typical deductive teaching approach to make sure that the students can understand and memorize each abstract concept. The basic theory courses, professional core courses, and practice courses are always well designed by various specialized teachers. On the other hand, this tightly sequenced and highly technical teaching overlooks how the undergraduates apply their engineering knowledge in real-world practice. In order to build the bridge between mechanical curricula and practical application, a complete mechatronics project “handwriting robot” is chosen for motivating students to integrate the concepts they have learned in class. The machine that can write is intuitionistic and attractive for those undergraduate students, which can inspire their learning enthusiasm. Besides, the mechanical structure of “handwriting robot” is relatively simple but with high knowledge density. By breaking up the development process of "handwriting robot", a series of sub-projects are obtained. Then, from the perspective of machinery and control, these sub-projects can be reasonably allocated to the teaching of mechanical courses. For the machinery part, these courses: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Drawing, Theory of Machines, and Mechanisms and Mechanical Design are served to build the mechanical body of “handwriting robot”, including prophase investigation, disassembling and redrawing the parts of provided robot, innovative design and calculation, simulation, processing or purchasing, and final assembling. For the control part, these courses: C Programming Language, Data Structure, Motor Drive and Control, and Single-chip Microcomputer are used to operate and control the “handwriting robot”. It can be seen that the courses above are all taught in authentic, relevant contexts. With the completion of in-class studies, together with necessary after-class research, a practical mechatronic “handwriting robot” is developed from nothing. At the end of the course, which is also the end of the project, students are required to submit a technical report. The report should collate and summarize the theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the entire process of curricula and the “handwriting robot” project. Moreover, considering the difference in students’ abilities, the degree of difficulty is involved in the evaluation phase of each course, so as to encourage students to think critically and innovatively. In this study, a class (30 students) from an engineering university were invited to test the curricula system. The preliminary results showed that the average academic performance, the professional experimental ability as well as science and technology competition award of this class were improved. The difficulties encountered in the implementation of the project were also discussed. We can envision that by building the bridge between mechanical curricula and practical application can not only help students better grasp the engineering concepts and principles, but also improve their ability to solve practical engineering problems. To some extent, it provides a reference for solving the current situation of separation between theory and practice in China's higher engineering education.

He, L., & Yu, J. (2020, June), Building the Bridge Between Mechanical Curricula and Practical Application through a Mechatronic Project Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34241

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