Title

Mechatronics for sophomore-level mechanical engineering students

Semester

Summer

Date of Graduation

2000

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Charles Stanley.

Abstract

As mechanical product designs become more complex, integrating electromechanical components with embedded control circuitry, the need for engineering graduates with a diversified educational background in multidisciplinary applications has been recognized within many facets of industry. The focus of this research was to create a series of laboratory experiments and a capstone project based on a survey of literature from current educators that could be used to introduce sophomore-level mechanical engineering students to fundamentals in the field known as "mechatronics", which incorporates the traditional disciplines of mechanical, electrical and software engineering. The lab exercises utilize the Handy Board microcontroller from MIT Media Laboratories to introduce analog and digital concepts as well as simple C programming. The project, which is based on application of the material presented in the labs, involves design and construction of an autonomous vehicle that is capable of collision detection, automatic start-up and line following behavior. A prototype of the vehicle, equipped with photoresistors and subminiature switches for sensors, successfully negotiated a 79-inch long, winding course, which was created using white tape on a black background, in approximately 6 seconds. The prototype demonstrated the application of material covered in the exercises and the viability of the project as a tool for demonstrating mechatronics concepts.

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