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Mechatronics Course With A Two Tiered Project Approach

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Outstanding Contributions to ME

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1052.1 - 12.1052.11



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Paper Authors


Hakan Gurocak Washington State University-Vancouver

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Hakan Gurocak is Director of School of Engineering and Computer Science and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University Vancouver. His research interests are robotics, automation, fuzzy logic, technology assisted distance delivery of laboratory courses and haptic interfaces for virtual reality.

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

Mechatronics Course with a Two-tiered Project Approach

Abstract - In this paper, we present a two-tiered project approach. A typical course project requires integration of various technical competencies. When students are assigned such a project, they usually go through a major learning curve. Many of them often fail to complete the project. In the two-tiered approach, student teams are first given small-scale projects that target specific competencies required by the more involved actual class project which is the second tier. After competing the first-tier projects, student teams teach the rest of the class what they learned and share the materials they developed. We present the details of the new approach, provide sample projects and discuss assessment of the projects and the course outcomes.

I. Introduction

Our mechanical engineering curriculum contains four technical electives. Students can choose to take any elective or they can take three of these electives out of a sequence of linked elective courses that constitute an option area. One of these option areas is mechatronics. The mechatronics option has its stem in the two junior level required courses that all students take. These are Mech 304 “Instrumentation and Measurement” and Mech 348 “System Dynamics.” After this introduction, students who choose to continue in the mechatronics option take the three electives: Mech 405 “Introduction to Microcontrollers”, Mech 467 “Automation” and Mech 468 “Robotics.”

The university catalog designation of Mech 405 is a 3-credit, lecture-only course. In the first 8 weeks of the semester, the course is in lecture-only format covering introductory topics including microprocessor architecture, number systems, microcontroller programming in “C”, memory maps, registers, digital I/O, analog I/O, timer subsystem, pulse accumulator and hardware interfacing such as switches, motors, LEDs and sensors. In the remaining 7 weeks, the course turns into a laboratory-only format where the class meets in the laboratory during the regularly scheduled lecture hours. In this half of the course, students work on a design project. Successful completion of the design project requires integration of various topics covered in the first half of the course.

In the last two years, the course followed the same format. During these offerings, we observed that the students had major difficulties with the design project. This was primarily because the project required them to master various technical competencies at once in a relatively short period of time. As mechanical engineering students, they faced the challenge of designing a system involving interface electronics and a different set of programming skills to program a microcontroller. Based on these observations, we developed a two-tiered project approach. In the following section, we describe the details. To the best of our knowledge, we are not aware of a similar approach available in the literature.

Gurocak, H. (2007, June), Mechatronics Course With A Two Tiered Project Approach Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1549

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