Mechatronics is the synergistic combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, control systems and computers. The key element in mechatronics is the integration of these areas through the design process. The essential characteristic of a mechatronics engineer and the key to success in mechatronics is a balance between two sets of skills: modeling / analysis skills and experimentation / hardware implementation skills. Synergism and integration in design set a mechatronic system apart from a traditional, multidisciplinary system. So the answer is YES! There is something new here — in the way mechanical engineers are expected to design and in the way professors must now teach design!
This paper describes the undergraduate program in mechatronics at Rensselaer, i e, two senior-elective courses, Mechatronics (fall semester) and Mechatronic System Design (spring semester), and in particular, the integration of the theory covered in lectures with the laboratory exercises. The hardware systems used in both courses are described. Also discussed are observations from conducting professional training in mechatronics both in industry and for the ASME Professional Development Program.