Mechatronics Engineering added to Kent State Fall 2018 BS Programs
Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE) is offering a brand new engineering program: Mechatronics Engineering. What is mechatronics you ask? The word mechatronics is a combination of mechanical engineering and electronics, but has since evolved to include computer and control systems. Robotics and automated systems are good examples of mechatronic systems.
The college also recently moved three of its concentrations under the Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering to their own majors, which means the college now offers a Bachelor of Science in:
- Computer Engineering Technology
- Mechanical Engineering Technology
- Mechatronics Engineering Technology
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Engineering still exists with two concentrations: Applied Engineering and Technology Management and new Fall 2018 - Foundry Technology.
The College is also offering non-credit FANUC Industrial Robotics training. Upon successful completion of the course, participants will receive the FANUC Robotics CERT I industry credential.
So now the questions is, what is the difference between engineering and engineering technology? The line between the two is becoming more blurred since responsibilities overlap more now than ever. In general, an engineer has a theoretical understanding of how and why something is happening. The curriculum for engineers includes high-level math, theory and conceptual design. Whereas, the curriculum for engineering technology programs focus on the implementation of engineering principles to solve problems. Engineering technology tends to be more hands-on and application oriented teaching students to operate, maintain, trouble-shoot, inspect and test systems.
According to a 2015 Deloitte report based on U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics and Gallup Survey, by 2025, 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be needed nationally to manage growth. Approximately, 2.7 million baby boomers are expected to retire and an estimated 700,000 new manufacturing jobs due to economic expansion will be created, but only 1.4 million jobs are likely to be filled. This suggests 2 million will remain unfilled, due to a lack of workers garnering appropriate skills and knowledge.
When thinking about industrial robots used in automated systems, we traditionally think about the automotive industry. However, a recent article by ATI Industrial Automation stated that almost 11,000 robots valued at $507 million were shipped to North American customers during the first three months of 2018 with substantial growth in non-automotive areas. Life sciences experienced a 262 percent increase while plastics/rubber (130 percent), and food/consumer goods (64 percent). This suggests that a skilled workforce is necessary across many different industries to design efficient, cost effective systems and keep them operational.
In addition to academic clout, CAE student organizations enhance learning by allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios. The Robotics Club annually builds a competition robot that in theory would be capable of traversing the surface of Mars and digging into its crust to gather soil for testing. They test their design every May at the Kennedy Space Center. The Xtreme Bots team builds robot(s) that face other teams’ robots in battle. The team participates in competitions in Dayton, Ohio in fall and spring. Students in the College are encouraged to volunteer at the First Tech Challenge robotics qualifying tournament for middle and high school students. The College has hosted this event every February for the past three years.