Calumet has teamed with eight corporate sponsors to create the country's
first bachelor's degree program in mechatronic
The new program,
which will focus heavily on packaging technology, will provide students with
exposure to programmable logic controllers (PLCs), conveyor systems, machine
vision and servo motors, as well as other technologies and various industry
manufacturing companies – particularly packaging machine companies – need
people who have expertise in mechanical and electronics technology," says Masoud
Fathizadeh, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering
technology at the school. "But rather than hire two individuals, they would
like to have someone who has competency in both areas because that's what they
need for machine development."
Calumet hopes to meet the needs of such companies by exposing students to both
disciplines through coursework and through its new mechatronics laboratory,
which has been outfitted by at least eight companies and one industry
organization. Sponsors include Mitsubishi
Electric Automation Inc., Morrison
Container Handling Solutions, Dorner
Manufacturing Corp., Elau
Corp., Schneider Electric,
Shuttleworth, Inc., Triangle Package
Machinery Co. and the Packaging Machinery
sponsors say they believe the new degree program will create a breed of
graduates with more practical engineering knowledge. "They will come out with
an understanding of production, manufacturing, and development of control
schemes," says Imran Ishaq, senior manager for technical support centers at Mitsubishi
Electric Automation, Inc.
In contrast, Ishaq says,
conventional engineering has lacked the specificity needed for mechatronics
design. "A traditional engineering education teaches students how to program,
but not how to apply it to the dynamics of a machine," he says. "This program
teaches them how to handle current technologies."
Calumet says it has worked with sponsors to secure as many as 70 corporate
internships for the program's students. The university has also received a
$150,000 National Science Foundation grant to help enhance its efforts in
mechatronics engineering technology.
Calumet professors say they founded the program after being urged to do so by the
industry. For the past six months, industrial partners have been helping to set
up the university's mechatronics lab by donating conveyors, motion controllers,
human-machine interfaces, servo modules, data acquisition systems, box labeling
machinery, selective inverting machinery and high-speed cameras, among other technologies.
help make these students more attractive to employers because they have the
knowledge and because they can use that knowledge right away," Fathizadeh says.