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Introducing Mechatronics In A First Year Intro To Engineering Design Course

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.409.1 - 5.409.4

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Sandra Yost

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

Session 2253

Introducing Mechatronics in a First-Year Intro to Engineering Design Course Sandra A. Yost, CSJ University of Detroit Mercy


This paper describes an effort to integrate principles of mechatronics into the first-year engineering curriculum at the University of Detroit Mercy. A newly designed introductory curriculum is aimed at improving the retention of first-year engineering students by providing them with hands-on, team-oriented, project-based, multidisciplinary instruction in engineering design. The course is taught in four sections, with an instructor from each of the four engineering departments, and includes instructor rotations, so that students are exposed to design activities in each of the four disciplines offered at the university. A unique feature of the course is its development by a team of faculty members.

1. Introduction

This curriculum development initiative is part of a broader effort to make mechatronics a major theme throughout the electrical and mechanical engineering programs at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). Mechatronics is concerned with the integration of mechanical, electronic, and control systems. Because of the university’s location in an urban manufacturing center that requires engineers conversant in both mechanical and electrical design, it makes sense to bring this multidisciplinary area into focus in UDM’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

To this end, the students in the author’s section of a first year introductory engineering course completed a mini-capstone project that required them to build and program a robot to move sand from one location to another. This project is described in Section 3.

2. General Course Description

Before the 1998-99 academic year, first year engineering students at UDM took a three credit hour course that exposed them to engineering graphics and engineering design. A second three credit hour course was devoted to an introduction to engineering computing. Because of the heavy graphics component in the design course, it was taught mainly by faculty from the Mechanical Engineering department, and sometimes by Civil Engineering faculty.

In an effort to improve retention of first-year engineering students, a group of faculty and administration began to examine the first-year engineering curriculum to find ways to get more faculty involved and to provide a more varied set of hands-on design activities. Since the first year is critical for retention1,2, getting students excited about engineering design via course activities was a major goal in the development of the course.

Yost, S. (2000, June), Introducing Mechatronics In A First Year Intro To Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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