Science and Mechatronics Aided Research for Teachers with an Entrepreneurship Experience (SMARTER)


What is Mechatronics?

Mechatronics is a synergistic integration of mechanical engineering, control theory, computer science, and electronics to manage complexity, uncertainty, and communication in engineered systems. The typical knowledgebase for the optimal design and operation of mechatronic systems comprises of dynamic system modeling and analysis, decision and control theory, sensors and signal conditioning, actuators and power electronics, hardware interfacing, rapid control prototyping, and embedded computing. The relevant technology applications of mechatronics include:

  • Smart consumer products: home security, camera, microwave oven, toaster, dish washer, laundry washer-dryer, climate control units, etc.
  • Medical: implant-devices, assisted surgery, haptic, etc.
  • Defense: unmanned air, ground, and underwater vehicles, smart munitions, jet engines, etc.
  • Manufacturing: robotics, machines, processes, etc.
  • Automotive: climate control, antilock brake, active suspension, cruise control, air bags, engine management, safety, etc.
  • Network-centric, distributed systems: distributed robotics, tele-robotics, intelligent highways, etc.

Why Mechatronics?

Mechatronics is an exciting, multidisciplinary application, which facilitates a basic introduction to various engineering disciplines in a unified setting.

Measurement systems consisting of sensors and instrumentation are well suited for physics-based modeling, so that teachers, drawing upon their existing science and mathematics skills, can collect/analyze data and gain valuable insights to draw conclusions.
Control systems consisting of physical plant, actuators, and power electronics provide teachers an opportunity to apply their existing science and mathematics skills for physics-based system modeling.

Exposure to computer hardware and software for measurement and control introduces the teachers to modern tools such as data acquisition boards, micro-controllers, LabVIEW, Matlab, etc.

Each skill learned in the program is valuable in itself and provides a foundation for applying a systems approach to problem solving.

Teachers are given an opportunity to learn and apply modern, state-of-the-art, computerized, remote data acquisition, monitoring, and control and computerized delivery tools such as presentation graphics, document preparation, and spreadsheets.

Entrepreneurship Module

Guided instruction: Address four of the following six topics:

  1. Business planning;
  2. Social entrepreneurship and technology;
  3. New product development;
  4. Intellectual property;
  5. Raising funding; and
  6. Social media and entrepreneurship.

Case studies: Combine topics in innovation and novel applications of mechatronics. Examples:

  1. iRobot’s Roomba: Bringing Robots into Homes,
  2. Segway Human Transporter: More Than a Cool Invention, and The Wii: Nintendo’s Video Game Revolution.

Technology-based social entrepreneurship:

  1. Mobile-phone based money transfer,
  2. robotic pets for elderly,
  3. promotion of public health using Wii.

Shadowing an Entrepreneur: Gain a firsthand experience of the day-to-day life at a start-up by joining an entrepreneur for a half day session.