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Enhancing Engineering Problem Solving Skills In A Mechatronics Course

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Controls, Mechatronics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.570.1 - 10.570.8



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Paper Authors

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Viveca Deanes

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Olakunle Harrison

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

Enhancing Engineering Problem Solving Skills in a Mechatronics Course

Olakunle Harrison, Viveca K. Deanes

Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama


A mechatronics course provides an excellent opportunity for teaching students problem solving skills in a multifaceted engineering context. This nontraditional mechanical engineering course involves the integration of mechanics concepts with electronics and software schemes. The course provides an excellent environment for teaching engineering design skills and exposes students to multidisciplinary problem solving exercises. Students in the course described get a healthy dose of the variety and scope of considerations practicing engineers face when designing contemporary products that involve electromechanical devices. In this paper the authors describe various approaches used in teaching this multidisciplinary course. Build-and-test exercises are used to help students gain a better understanding of technical concepts covered in the course, thus promoting a sense of accomplishment with real world experiences. Students’ ability to retain knowledge of concepts taught is improved when the opportunity exists to demonstrate what has been learned. The projects and exercises, as well as the way in which they are executed, are designed to enhance students’ decision-making skills and promote good engineering judgment. One course project discussed in this paper involves participation in an industry sponsored robotics contest. Feedback from students consistently indicates that this mechatronics course engages them and helps sharpen their critical thinking skills.

I. Introduction

Engineering educators are challenged with the task of producing globally competitive engineers. Currently, the global market is demanding technically-talented engineers for low wages. Several companies have found a surplus of such engineers in Hungary, China, Russia, and India, where engineers receive average annual earnings of $25,690, $15,120, $14,420, and $13,580, respectively, as compared to U.S. engineers’ average annual earnings of $70,000. Initially, the exodus of jobs was blue-collar jobs, and it was believed these were the only jobs in danger of transport. However, after companies began to observe the huge savings they were achieving by transferring the blue-collar jobs, they began transferring many of their white-collar jobs overseas, too. Forrester Research, a marketing research firm, forecasts 3.3 million high-tech and service industry jobs will move overseas by 2015, providing $136 billion in wages. To exacerbate the problem, many foreign nationals are coming to the U.S. to receive their engineering education,

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Deanes, V., & Harrison, O. (2005, June), Enhancing Engineering Problem Solving Skills In A Mechatronics Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14709

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015