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Focusing on the Silver Lining: How COVID-19 Pandemic is Influencing the Pedagogy of Mechatronic Course Delivery to Support the Industrial Role of a Mechanical Engineering Technologist

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2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting


Virtual (hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology)

Publication Date

November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

End Date

November 7, 2020

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Samuel C Lieber PE New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Samuel C. Lieber, PhD, PE is an Assistant Professor of Advanced Manufacturing in the Engineering Technology Department and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Dr. Lieber’s applied research interest is in Product Design and Advanced Manufacturing. He is a registered licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the State of New Jersey and has over 19 years of experience in the design, testing, manufacturing, and inspection of Medical Devices. Dr. Lieber has worked directly as a Product and Process Development Engineer in New Jersey’s Medical Device Industry and continues to consult on Advanced Manufacturing and Design projects.

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Ashish D Borgaonkar New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Dr. Ashish Borgaonkar works as Asst. Professor of Engineering Education at the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Newark College of Engineering located in Newark, New Jersey. He has developed and taught several engineering courses primarily in first-year engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and general engineering. He has won multiple awards for excellence in instruction. He also has worked on several research projects, programs, and initiatives to help students bridge the gap between high school and college as well as preparing students for the rigors of mathematics. His research interests include engineering education, integration of novel technologies into engineering classroom, excellence in instruction, water, and wastewater treatment, civil engineering infrastructure, and transportation engineering.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has created widespread disruption in higher education. This has been especially felt in the engineering field, which has traditionally relied on applied laboratories to deliver course material effectively and efficiently. In particular, courses in the Mechatronic domain that integrate mechanical components, electrical systems, and programing rely heavily on applied labs to instruct students on this interdisciplinary topic through hands-on activities. At our mid-sized STEM-focused institution, these applied labs have been facilitated in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program by using a combination of LogixPro Mechatronic simulation software and Amatrol Mechatronic learning stations. Up until the Fall 2019 semester, this approach worked very well and there was no real need to re-examine the instructional delivery pedagogy. All this changed very quickly when the COVID-19 Pandemic disruption during the Spring 2020 semester prevented access to the Amatrol equipment, forcing the course to rely heavily on the LogixPro software. Even though it was a very challenging transition, there was still a silver lining to it. The positive result of this situation was revisiting the role of a MET graduate in industry and the focus of a Mechatronic curriculum in preparing for a Mechanical Engineering Technologist role. This paper discusses how the COVID-19 disruption had a profound impact on how a lab-based mechatronic course should be taught using a synergetic blend of the old school and modern teaching pedagogies. This point is presented through the observation of a senior-level Mechatronic course operating under typical conditions (Fall 2019), in an emergency transition to online (Spring 2020), and fully online (Summer 2020). The observations suggest that an Event-Driven Sequencing (EDS) focus can be maintained in an online environment through creative use of the LogixPro software. This finding provides an important option for MET programs seeking not only to survive in this pandemic situation but also to attract more distance-learning students. It also outlines cost-effective methods to conduct applied laboratories in their Mechatronic courses.

Lieber, S. C., & Borgaonkar, A. D. (2020, November), Focusing on the Silver Lining: How COVID-19 Pandemic is Influencing the Pedagogy of Mechatronic Course Delivery to Support the Industrial Role of a Mechanical Engineering Technologist Paper presented at 2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtual (hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology).

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