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Teaching Mechatronics To First Year Engineering Students

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.422.1 - 1.422.5

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Paper Authors

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Saeed B. Niku

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

Session 1253

Teaching Mechatronics To First-Year Engineering Students

Saeed B. Niku California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


A number of experiments have been prepared consistent with the knowledge level of freshman engineering students to familiarize them with the concepts of mechatronics. The experiments are based on both dissection of products as well as experimentation with components which comprise mechatronic devices.

Mechatronic devices are thought to be products with mechanical components which perform their function under a microprocessor based controller. Thus, products and components used for this purpose fit the definition.

The experiments are based on a Mini-Board controller, a microprocessor based controller originally designed at MIT and now under production by Progressive Solutions of Columbus, Ohio. The Mini-Board comes equipped with input and output ports, microprocessor, memory, and documentation. It runs programs in Micro-C which are downloaded into it from a computer via the serial port. Lab experiments include connecting the components to the board, development of small programs for controlling d.c. motors and stepper motors, control of lights and buzzers, and conditional control with sensors such as micro-switches, light sensors, and proximity sensors.

The dissection modules include investigation of a video camera and its components.


Mechatronics, as an interdisciplinary subject created by the marriage between mechanical design, micro- processor control, and electronics, has become one of the important new subjects in many institutions. New labs and courses are offered in many universities in order to prepare students with very little background in electronics and micro processors control to design devices which are controlled by a micro processor. There are also many books published about mechatronics which are written specifically for engineers interested in mechatronics ‘ > ‘ ‘ . The trend is partially fueled by the Industry which demands that their new employees be knowledgeable in this area. The result has been course offerings in the senior years in many disciplines.

Additionally, many institutions have been supported by the National Science Foundation, both directly and through NSF Coalitions, to create programs in Mechatronics and to prepare teachers in mechatronics . Additionally, NSF has supported the idea of inclusion of mechatronic concepts in other courses, including first year engineering courses (Synthesis Coalition).

The basic thrust of this project is to introduce students to mechatronics ideas and concepts in their first year engineering course although they do not yet have the basic necessary knowledge. As a result, it is essential that in every project all introductory steps that will be necessary be included, on a need-to-know-basis.

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Niku, S. B. (1996, June), Teaching Mechatronics To First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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