Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
The field of Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering (MRE) is emerging as a distinct academic discipline. Previously, courses in this field have been housed in departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Computer Science, instead of a standalone department or curriculum. More recently, single, freestanding courses have increasingly grown into course sequences and concentrations, with entire baccalaureate and graduate degree programs now being offered. The field has been legitimized in recent years with the National Center for Education Statistics creating the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code 14.201 Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering. As of October 2019, ABET accredits a total of 9 B.S. programs in the field: 5 Mechatronics Engineering, 3 Robotics Engineering, 1 Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering, and none in Automation Engineering.
Despite recent tremendous and dynamic growth, MRE lacks a dedicated professional organization and has no discipline-specific ABET criteria. As the field grows more important and widespread, it becomes increasingly relevant to formalize and standardize the curricula of these programs. This paper begins a conversation about the contents of a cohesive concept inventory for MRE. The impetus for this effort grew from a set of four industry and government sponsored workshops held around the country named the Future of Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering (FoMRE). These workshops brought together multidisciplinary academic professionals and industry leaders in the field, and ran from September 2018 to September 2019.
The study presented here focuses primarily on programs at the baccalaureate level, but informs discussion at the graduate level as well. A survey is prepared with lists of potential concept inventory items, and asks university faculty, students and practicing engineers to identify which concepts lie at the core of MRE. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, a wide range of basic concepts including physical quantities and units, circuit analysis, digital logic, electronics, programming, computer-aided design, solid and fluid mechanics, chemistry, dynamic systems and controls, and mathematics are considered. Questions ask participants to rank the priority or importance of potential core concepts from these categories and also provide opportunities for open-ended response. The results of this survey identify gaps between existing undergraduate curricula, student experience, and employer expectations, and continuing work will provide insight into the direction of a unifying curricular design for MRE education.
McFall, K. S., & Huang, K., & Gilbert, H. B., & Jouaneh, M. K., & Bai, H., & Auslander, D. M. (2020, June), Mechatronics and Robotics Education: Standardizing Foundational Key Concepts Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34966
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