WIP: A Systems-level Approach for an Introductory Mechatronics Laboratory Course for Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Students
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings
Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary engineering field that involves knowledge across mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. In general, undergraduate engineering programs teach mechatronics as individual topic labs that then request students in developing a full system-level mechatronics semester project utilizing skills of design, manufacturing, and electronics. This lab format may not provide effectively the necessary learning skills to perform system-level integration and
... gration and debugging for multidisciplinary problems that are typically encountered in a mechatronics project. This paper shares the development of an introductory laboratory curriculum that teaches mechanical engineering students to gain fluency in electronics and software with system-level demonstration to be a valuable employer of mechatronics. When we talk about systems, we use the NASA Systems Engineering handbook definition as "a construct or collection of different elements that together produce results not obtainable by the elements alone." This is the mindset we want students to carry throughout the mechatronics curriculum. To focus on the practical applications of mechatronics, we developed a lab curriculum that cultivates system-level thinking around the build and integration of a hypothetical NASA Mars rover project. Overall, the course aims to teach students analog/digital sensing technologies, actuation hardware, Proportional-Integral-Derivative control, and microcontroller software implementation from a system-level teaching approach ensuring crossfunctional debugging skills for each lab. This approach can be advantageous towards students completing their semester project in the design and development of their own mechatronic system.