New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Using Laboratories for Instruction in Mechanical Engineering
A diverse and effective undergraduate mechanical curriculum should integrate learning from the different spheres of mechanical engineering, educate students about recent technological advances, and motivate them to pursue careers in this field. However, a seamless integration of varied topics in mechanical engineering curriculum is challenging, as courses range from traditional engineering classes in thermal fluids, solids and controls, to courses covering emerging technological aspects of instrumentation, sensors, measurement techniques, advanced control algorithms, electronics, and electrical components.
Mechatronics is a newer branch of mechanical engineering that is a synergistic combination of mechanical, electrical, electronics, computer science, control techniques, and information systems. Integrating mechatronics content in mechanical engineering curriculum has been a challenge since it has been viewed as a significant deviation from traditional courses. In the past, pedagogical approaches like semester-long, project-based classes, or linking mechatronics to other engineering disciplines, have been used to integrate mechatronics into the mechanical engineering curriculum, with varying results. Furthermore, teaching an interdisciplinary class of this nature within a semester is a difficult pedagogical endeavor. To overcome these issues, the topics and concepts in the measurement laboratory/lecture (ME335/L) and introduction to mechatronics (ME435/L), a traditional mechanical engineering courses, are interlinked to provide students with a unified learning experience. As a first step in this direction, ME335/L was made a prerequisite to ME435/L, which allowed the students to learn about the fundamental topics in ME335/L, and thus be prepared to tackle more complex topics in ME435/L course. The ME335/L was redesigned to incorporate more tools, instrumentation, and programs typically used in ME435/L. The key experiments in ME335/L were tailored to expose students to topics commonly encountered in ME435/L. This integrated approach to mechatronics allowed students to build a strong fundamental understanding of data acquisition and measurement systems, and enabled them to utilize these theories and principles in ME435/L. Although some topics are repeated in both these courses (ME335/L and ME435/L), the contents become more advanced and in-depth in ME435/L. The experiments in ME435/L were redesigned such that the students used the fundamental concepts and modern tools taught in ME335/L in more challenging projects to re-enforce the foundation of instrumentation in design of a mechatronics system. This allowed students to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are crucial for building successful careers as mechanical engineers.
Nandikolla, V. K., & Durgesh, V. (2016, June), Integrating Instrumentation and Mechatronics Education in the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25402
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