Mechatronics in Switzerland

Hello Mechatronics Educators,

My job takes me to some of the most beautiful place in the world and puts me in front of the greatest and most creative minds in engineering education. Admittedly I have to fight back nerves when I’m speaking with most of them but I love to get their insight into what’s new in mechatronics and what they feel is important. Here is an interview between Dr. Mirko Mebolt of ETH Zürich and I on a recent visit I had to Switzerland. (Can you tell I was nervous?)

Travis Escoffery
Mechatronics and Controls Product Marketing Manager
National Instruments

Mechatronics Education Community Update

Hello Mechatronics Education Community members,

 Thanks again for joining us! Here are some highlights from the recent activities:

New Forum discussions:
There are several new discussions on the Forum. Share your thoughts on these and other topics, or start a new conversation. Please note you need to have a Forum account in order to comment or to add a new discussion.

  • What mechatronics textbook is the best? (posted in the Mechatronics Curriculum category): Tell us what is your favorite mechatronics textbook and why.
  • Mechatronics-oriented mathematics homework (posted in the Mechatronics Curriculum category): How about giving access to a simple DC motor, through IoT, to undergraduate students taking differential equations and linear algebra courses?
  • Managing complex systems (posted in the Mechatronics Curriculum category): Any suggestions or examples of courses that could be incorporated into mechatronics curricula to prepare students for managing complex systems?

New in the Shared Resources repository

  • Student projects at Lawrence Tech: In a dual-level (senior/graduate) mechatronic design course, students are tasked with designing small robots to complete a simple task. The experience is wrapped in a real-world problem and a structured lecture and labs are provided to guide the process. Find more about the course in the paper presented at the 2015 ASEE conference, as well as the course hand-outs from Fall 2016 - materials shared by Dr. Mynderse from the Lawrence Tech are posted in the repository's Student Projects folder.
  • Preparing Undergraduates for Ambitious Engineering System Design through Mechatronics (webinar recording): How do we close the gap between introductory mechatronics concepts based on hobby-grade embedded platforms and advanced methodologies required to perform modern mechatronic magic?

Share your resources with the community - send us your program's curriculum, project ideas, demo videos, and other materials that would be helpful to mechatronics educators building or revising their mechatronics programs and courses. You can email the materials directly or send a link to downloadable files to And tell us what other types of materials would you like to find in the repository.

A Token of Appreciation
This month, we would like to reward Dr. Mynderse for his contribution, sharing materials on the student projects at Lawrence Tech. We hope the laptop backpack will come handy when traveling to the next mechatronics conference, or to carry the gear around the campus.

Community Meetup
If you are attending this year's American Control Conference (May 24-26, Seattle, WA), we would like to invite you to an informal dinner on Wednesday, May 24 (time and place to be confirmed). Please email us at and let us know if you are interested in networking with fellow colleagues from the mechatronics community.

We are looking forward to seeing you on the Mechatronics Education Community often!


Nima Lotfi, Ph.D.
Mechatronics Education Community Ambassador
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Zuzana Fabusova
Mechatronics Education Community Coordinator

Global Mechatronics Workshop hosted by Quanser and National Instruments

Mechatronics, as an area of study and methodology, is driving global mega trends in cyber-physical systems, autonomous vehicles, internet of things, industry 4.0, factory of the future, and countless other areas. The ability to effectively prepare students for the complex and ambitious engineering systems they will soon work on is the challenge that educators around the world are facing today.

If you plan to attend the NIWeek 2017,  join us for the Global Mechatronics Teaching Workshop on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Austin and see how, as a global community, we can develop the best practices to address the challenges and opportunities in mechatronics education. This exclusive, invite-only session will bring together global leaders in education who are setting the stage for how students will learn today and in the future.

Academic Panelists include:
Dr. Bob Bishop, University of South Florida
Dr. William Melek, University of Waterloo
Dr. Michael Frye, University of the Incarnate Word

For more details and to register, visit the event site.

NI Engineering Education Webinar Series Focuses on Mechatronics

At the beginning of March, the Engineering Education Webinar Series presented by National Instruments is focusing on mechatronics education. As this topic is of main interest for our community, here is a brief description of the webinars as shown on the NI website, for all those who would be interested in joining:

Transforming Labs to Accelerate Student Understanding of Core Mechatronics Concepts

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 11 am CST
Presented by Dr. David Mac Nair, Director of Laboratory Development, Georgia Tech

Laboratory experiments are a mainstay of undergraduate engineering education. To increase inquiry-based aspects of the lab, a redesign is necessary. Future engineers must both gain an understanding of the fundamental concepts as well as build their engineering intuition on the how, why, where, and when these concepts must be applied. Dr. David MacNair explains the techniques he uses at one of the largest engineering universities in the world and shows how they can enhance the preparation of students to meet the growing needs of industry and research. 

Preparing Our Undergrads for Ambitious Engineering System Design Through Mechatronics

Wednesday. March 8, 2017 - 11 am CST
Presented by Dr. Tom Lee, Chief Education Officer, Quanser; Adjunct Professor of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo

Most engineering schools have introduced some form of mechatronic design into undergraduate curriculum over the past few years. Ambitious mechatronic design, however, refers to the skills and insight that the emerging generation of engineers needs to create driverless vehicles, travel to and from Mars, and technologically respond to severe physical ailments. But how do we close the gap between introductory concepts based on hobby-grade embedded platforms and the advanced methodologies required to perform modern mechatronic magic?

To establish a comprehensive framework for mechatronics education, Dr. Tom Lee has been working with institutions around the world. Technologically, he has worked with commercial partners to establish flexible, scalable, and persistent lab platforms. Pedagogically, he has been working to reconcile the theoretical foundations of the engineering sciences and mathematics with the digital realities of modern design. Practically, he has explored techniques to make new teaching strategies consistent with the course structure of academic programs.

In this webinar, see an overview of these new approaches in the context of global trends fundamentally changing if not challenging the way we teach undergraduates.

To find out more about the webinars and to register, visit the NI website.

Mechatronics Educators Exchange Ideas

Professor Kapila from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering believes that “mechatronics as a field has grown sufficiently mature, that instead of simply offering individual courses or a sequence of courses, we must be at a stage now to create entire academic programs.” He wanted to share his experiences from building a Mechatronics and Robotics program at NYU Tandon with other educators facing similar challenges, and see how they approach mechatronics education at their institutions.

In June 2016, Dr. Kapila invited a small group of fellow professors to NYU Tandon. They represented institutions that already designed and launched mechatronics programs, as well as those who are just starting. He also brought in Quanser, a leading developer of experiments and courseware for mechatronics, robotics, and controls research and teaching, to get the perspective of the industry. The Mechatronics Education Workshop: Designing and Building Effective Programs was a great success, and all the participants agreed this type of forum was extremely useful and needed. Professor Kapila started working on a second workshop, wanting to bring a larger group of educators and companies to engage in discussion on the future of mechatronics education.

Dr. Kapila hoped for some 30 participants for the second workshop. Being able to secure an NSF funding, as well as support from companies such as Quanser, National Instruments, and Dassault Systemes, the Mechatronics Education Innovation Workshop by far exceed his own expectations.

More than seventy attendees representing universities and two- and four-year colleges from all over the U.S., UK, and Denmark, convened to NYU Tandon’s Brooklyn campus in mid-November. Together with the panelists from a wide range of industries, they discussed the skills engineering graduates need, the role of industry in shaping mechatronics education, key components of the mechatronics programs, and how best to balance the theory and applied work, the new mechatronics courses and related traditional courses. They also heard how their peers at the California University at Berkeley, University of Illinois, Chicago, US Naval Academy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Alabama, and the University of Sheffield, UK, approached creating mechatronics programs, what challenges they encountered and what are their plans for the future. And as hands-on approaches to learning are inherent to mechatronics, the workshop concluded with the demonstration session and a tour of the labs at NYU Tandon.

There’s still a lot to discuss – and that’s way the participants welcomed the idea of creating a community site for mechatronics educators, where they would be able to exchange ideas, share curricula, and best practices and continue the conversation.