With engineering positions rising in necessity and demand, AU is expanding the School of Science and Engineering. Beginning in Fall 2020, students will have the option to major in Mechatronics.
Mechatronics is the engineering and design side of robotics, involving controls and automation. Mechatronics marries electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and computer engineering to create intelligent and useful robots for tasks such as manufacturing cars and performing medical procedures. Mechatronics continues to grow in demand as technology advances.
AU School of Science and Engineering currently offers degrees for majors including computer science, computer engineering, engineering physics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. The engineering program is in its seventh year and is fully accredited in mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.
The engineering majors range from 83 to 87 credit hours, and Mechatronics will be 83 hours, 31 of which are major-specific. It heavily involves courses in math and science and includes engineering courses such as Machine Design, Solid Mechanics and Electronics. The new major is designed so that a student in a different engineering major can add about 15 credit hours and obtain a second degree.
The engineering department provides students with opportunities for discovery and growth in the field. Students will be traveling to a remote village in Costa Rica over spring break to learn how their engineering skills can be of assistance. AU engineering students are also reigning world champions of the evGrandPrix after winning last year, which was their first year competing. The competition involves students creating an autonomous electric vehicle to race.
The mechatronics program will prepare students for numerous careers in the engineering field, many of which involve designing assembly robots or surgery robots. Dr. Chad Wallace, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, explained how AU prepares its engineering students for careers.
“After graduating, all of our engineering students have found good-paying jobs instantly,” said Wallace. “They have been well-prepared in their engineering and STEM skills, but our graduates are also good writers and speakers because of their strong liberal arts backgrounds. These are all skills that are highly sought after by employers.”
He continued, noting why mechatronics is important.
“It is an important major with the recent advances in autonomous vehicles, rovers on Mars, and increased use of robots in industry,” he said.
Dr. Ben McPheron, assistant professor of electrical engineering and department mechatronics expert, further explained the importance of mechatronics.
“It is very rare that when you go out into your career, that if you’re an electrical engineer, you’re only going to work with electrical engineer problems,” he said. “There’s probably some mechanical aspect or programming aspect.”
McPheron also spoke on the demand of mechatronics knowledge and experience.
“It’s an area that’s really exploding in the industry and there are a number of companies, even in the Indianapolis and Central Indiana area, that are desperate for engineers with backgrounds in Mechatronics,” he said.