June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1180.1 - 12.1180.8
Preparing Mechanical Engineering Students for Senior Design Projects with Electronics Components
Many mechanical engineering students try to avoid having to work on senior design projects that include electronics because they feel like they are in over their heads. The attitude is understandable because most mechanical engineering students have very little opportunity to do any type of hands-on activities with electronics, and their graduation hinges upon completing their senior project. Most have taken one course in circuit analysis, but have never designed or built anything that includes any electronic components. This paper describes attempts to break down the stigma that mechanical engineering students often hold: “It is a job for the EE’s.”
For the past two years, Tri-state University has had successful senior design projects in mechanical engineering that included electronic components. Some of the projects have been with multi-disciplinary teams including electrical and computer engineering students, and some of the projects have been exclusively mechanical engineering students. Providing the mechanical engineering students with the necessary background to be successful with the projects has come from two different methods. The first was to require the students to take a prerequisite course in mechatronics, and the second was to complete basic electronics projects in the two-semester mechanical engineering senior design course itself. Both methods have proven to be effective, and often provided benefits after graduation to the students participating in the projects.
More and more of today’s mechanical engineers are doing work that requires them to have a strong background in electronics. With industries struggling to keep costs down by implementing more automation, there is a strong desire for mechanical engineers working in manufacturing positions to have hands-on experience with electronics and robotics.1 Manufacturing environments are not the only place mechanical engineers are required to have a strong background in electronics. Mechanical engineers in design positions are also finding microprocessors and electronic devices often must be included in the most cost effective design solutions. Many universities currently have entire research centers solely for the study and development of mechatronic and robotic devices because of the industry demand for the technology and for students with this background.2 Furthermore, Admissions Departments3 are getting more and more requests from prospective undergraduate students wondering what mechanical engineering programs have to offer in the field of robotics or mechatronics.
When they are ready to begin their senior design projects, it is not surprising that most mechanical engineering students feel unprepared to handle projects that include electronics because most mechanical engineering programs require very little background in electronics. For example, mechanical engineering students at Tri-State University receive a general introduction to electricity and magnetism in a physics courses, and take one basic circuit analysis
Kiefer, S. (2007, June), Preparing Mechanical Engineering Students For Senior Design Projects With Electronics Components Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2873
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