Mechatronics is a fast growing area of Engineering that is interdisciplinary by nature, as it combines aspects of Mechanics, Control Theory, Computer Science, and Electronics, in order to improve and optimize the design and functionality of systems, as well as making them more economical and reliable. Industrial robots and drones are quintessential examples of mechatronics systems: they include aspects of electronics, mechanics, and computing. Modern production equipment consists of mechatronic modules that are integrated according to a suitable control architecture. Popular examples include automotive subsystems, including anti-lock brakes and spin-assist, as well as everyday equipment, such as autofocus cameras, video, hard disks and CD players.
The complexity of mechatronics requires at least a bachelor’s degree to get into the field. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific salary information for mechatronics engineers, it does show that median annual wages for all specialized engineers not categorized was $92,680 as of May 2013. The middle 50% of these professionals earned between $68,610 and $117,930 yearly.
THE NEED FOR MECHATRONICS AT CI
CSU Channel Islands is the only public university in the County of Ventura. The campus is strategically located on the so called “101 Tech Corridor,” sharing the neighborhood with companies such as Amgen, Haas, Teledyne Technologies, HRL Laboratories, and many others, not to mention Point Mugu and Port Hueneme Naval bases, as well as Lockheed, Rocketdyne, and other companies in the greater Los Angeles area. Therefore there is a great need and demand for engineers in the local industry and community.
The local companies strongly support the establishment of an Engineering program on the CI campus, and a comprehensive report was produced in 2013 with recommendation for an engineering degree that would meet the needs of the community. In this report it was noted that Ventura County hires about 290 engineers each year, not to mention that the local Naval Bases send their officers to complete their Engineering degrees across the nation, which results in high costs for the Navy, and a loss of revenue for Ventura County.
We envision Mechatronics to have the following Program Learning Outcomes:
Be competent engineers and problem solvers.
Possess a high level of erudition in the field of Mechatronics Engineering.
Have knowledge of standard engineering tools, and their application in the field.
Be effective communicators.
Be prepared to undertake engineering jobs in a wide variety of engineering fields.
Based on our experience, and the experience of other programs, we propose the following initial small set of Student Learning Outcomes:
Apply knowledge of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering.
Design experiments to evaluate the performance of a mechatronic system or component with respect to specifications.
Design a mechatronic system, component, or process to meet desired needs.
Define and solve an Engineering problem.
Develop and defend a written statement of professional ethical responsibility related to their field of study.
Ability to communicate effectively.
1 will be covered in the first two years’ science and introductory courses (programming, calculus, chemistry, physics, etc.), and rigorous logical / critical thinking will be taught in many courses, for example MATH/PHIL 230. 2, 3, 4 will be covered in multiple courses, for example Engineering Design will be taught in EMEC 225, while solving engineering problems will be taught in Mobile Robotics (EMEC/COMP 470) or Embedded Systems (EMEC/COMP 462). Communication skills will be taught in General Education courses, such as first-year writing courses.