Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
Mechatronics originally was a simple combination of mechanical and electrical systems, but as technology and capability advanced, mechatronics expanded to include mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering, and control engineering. This multidisciplinary nature of mechatronics makes it ideal to construct new capabilities and knowledge. As a mandatory senior level course for mechanical engineers at (Institution), mechatronics is a course that allows students to exercise their creativity and problem solving skills in an environment where they comprehend some basics of several of these disciplines, but now they must work to integrate these areas while implementing new devices. This paper describes four hands-on labs that progress in difficulty. These challenges follow the course material and design, pushing them to work through the lecture material and example problems. Students are encouraged to think about the final product they will present, and work towards implementing portions of it in each lab requirement. For those that adhere to this advice, the final integration is much easier than those who treat each lab as a disjointed exercise. Each lab requirement has at least one in-class work session, and two require the student teams to present their prototype or proof of concept. The faculty member and a lab technician are available to support the groups and provide additional information or assistance on implementing their devices. Student reviews and grades show they are meeting the desired learning objectives and enjoy the challenges. Students with no prior programming experience in C++ quickly gain proficiency and are more confident with their critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills as well as their ability to be self-learners. Instructors report that the hands-on nature motivates students to achieve more than the bare minimum and be creative. Their imaginations and innovative solutions require the integration of introductory computer programming and microcontroller functions with electrical and mechanical engineering applications. Students mention the open ended, hands-on activities in the course feedback as relevant applications that helped them improve their understanding and appreciation for the theory learned in the classroom. Additionally, students have learned to incorporate some of the lab requirements into their senior capstone projects. Working through the labs provides an excellent vehicle for deeper understanding and solving open-ended problems while contributing to a number of ABET student outcomes.
Rabb, R. J., & Washuta, N. J., & Floyd, C. D. (2018, June), Using Mechatronics to Develop Self Learners and Connect the Dots in the Curriculum Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31209
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