Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Do Employers Want? Engineers Versed in Mechatronics

The importance of cross-functional knowledge of engineers is emphasized more and more by industry - we read it in various articles, hear about it directly from industry representatives at various forums. Mechatronics, which combines and inter-connectes engineering disciplines like mechanical, electrical, computer and control engineering, is clearly addressing the need. Many universities recognize it - mechatronic programs are expanding - and many more universities are brainstorming the best ways how to start up such programs. Among them is Canada's Laurentian University.

A co-organizer of the ICMT 2008 Conference took
the opportunity to raise an important question with the mechatronics experts from around the world that gathered at the conference to discuss and share the best international practices and expertise - how to create an innovative Mechatronic Program at the University. Dr. Markus Timusk and Dr. Brahim Chebbi brought to the round table discussion participants from Japan, England, Mexico, Germany, China, USA and Canada. Recognizing its leadership in Mechatronics, Robotics and Control, Quanser was also invited to join the discussion. The recommendation for the Laurentian Mechatronic Program was to build on local industry, its knowledge and experience. With mining being a major influence on the local economy, the program should have a slant towards heavy machinery and mining - in that way students would benefit from local expertise and could eventually support the community they got educated in. Another suggestion - build the program around multi-disciplinary mechatronic design projects and include a “keystone” project course, in which students will be exposed to often untaught intricacies of interfacing and mechatronics design.

We at Quanser took a step back and asked: what can we do to make sure that educators have teaching tools that will ensure industry gets engineers with cross-functional skills they need?

Design philosophy for developing any mechatronic system is based on understanding control principles. And that's Quanser comes in.This collection of five hands-on experiments are much-needed teaching tools to help students understand the control principles underlying all mechatronic sytems. All experiments in our Mechatronic Controls Collection are industry-driven and reflects the type of systems students will work with in industry after graduation. Our Active Suspension experiment, for example, teaches students by simulating a quarter car model. Another experiment from the collection - the 3 DOF Gyroscope allows to study dynamic properties of gyroscopes used in various practical applications such as control and guidance systems for air, sea and space vehicles. Completing the collection are Hexapod, 6 DOF motion platform capable of moving high loads at high accelerations within a small workspace, 2 DOF Planar Robot, a parallel robotic used to teach various robot concepts such as kinematics and calibration and Industrial Mechatronic Drives Unit (IMDU) with its Web Transport and Multi-DOF Torsion modules. With exception of IMDU - all completly new products. Stay tuned. More information on the new products will be posted soon on this blog.

Quanser's Active Suspension

Quanser's 3 DOF Gyroscope

Quanser's Hexapod

Quanser's 2 DOF Planar Robot

Quanser's IMDU Web Transport


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