The past week I’ve been keeping tabs on mechatronics articles across the Internet and I’ve found a large number of articles about incorporating robotics and mechatronics into higher education and elsewhere.
Georgia Tech recently announced their finalized plans to offer a Robotics Ph.D. program. A January 30th Georgia Tech (GT) press release stated, “The College of Computing at Georgia Tech today announced the nation’s first interdisciplinary doctoral degree in robotics…” (strangely this press release was recently removed). The GT robotics website shows the robotics doctorate program in detail with three new required courses targeted in multidisciplinary robotics. The program is slated to begin spring 2008.
Marquette University in Wisconsin recently received a 25 million dollar gift to their College of Engineering. The engineering dean said in a press release that the donation will accelerate plans for a new building, scholarships and faculty. He continued to say that the college is striving to “change the way engineering students learn” and “shape a new breed of engineers.” Among the new facilities are plans for “houses” where classrooms, research, faculty and students are grouped together for optimal collaboration and development of communication and teamwork skills.
Of other interest, some community colleges across the country have added various mechatronics programs. A community college in the Lancaster, PA area, Reading Area Community College, has a 1080-hour training program in Mechatronics and Robotics that includes teaching electronic and software skills in addition to the strong traditional mechanical and electrical skills. Also Turkey Hill Dairy worked with the Reading Area Community College to create a 200-hour program to train workers in the plant in a nationally certified mechatronics program as reported by in article titled “Package deal for local industry.”
Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon recently added an associate’s degree program titled Mechatronics Technician/Industrial Maintenance of Applied Science aimed for technicians to maintain automated systems for various industries. The program is the result of a 2-year NSF study that determined a great need for cross-trained technicians. The program is slated to begin fall 2008.
A 200-hour mechatronics program certainly does not have the depth of any electrical engineering degree, but the implications are much greater. If community colleges already offer mechatronics programs, when will engineering schools begin to offer concrete degrees in mechatronics and robotics among the ranks of mechanical, electrical, systems, civil and other engineering degrees?
What does this all mean for engineers? No matter whether the designer, engineer or user has a degree related to mechatronics, the knowledge and relatability to areas beyond a specific field are becoming required. The ability to communicate, work together, design for an entire product life cycle and more are also a part of the bigger picture of integration and mechatronics.
In our world where a computer can automatically override a driver’s control of a car, tunnel vision in no longer allowed.
(Car computer in reference to my look at the 2008 Honda Fit.)