Mechanics Plus Electronics Equals Growing Mechatronics Major

A distinctive program coupled with hands-on experience, industry connections, and clubs help guide students into the field of mechatronics

The Aeronautics and Engineering Building on the Kent Campus is home to many classes and majors at Kent State University, including two categories of accredited mechatronics majors, Mechatronics Engineering Technology and Mechatronics Engineering.  

One major focuses on the technological aspect of engineering while the other focuses on a combined curriculum of design and theory to prepare students for success. In the professional world, mechatronics engineering creates the design and theory of something whereas mechatronics engineering technology pushes it through the technological phase.

Both programs are ABET accredited, which is recognized as the highest standard of engineering education, and, according to, receiving the accreditation adds assurance that the program is adhering to the quality of standards that will prepare graduates for the future.  

Darwin Boyd, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, has played a large role in the growth of the programs. Some of the growth is due to the program's deep industry connections.  

“We actually started getting involved with Rockwell Automation – I think it was 2002 – and they made a donation of programmable logic controllers to the college, and that kind of started it,” Boyd said. “We saw the value in that, and they encouraged us to go in this direction.”  

Mechatronics itself has combined curriculum from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and control engineering, Boyd said. One of the major differences between the two programs is that mechatronics engineering has more theory design and more coursework on the mathematical side of engineering. 

“Engineering Technology is more hands-on with not quite as much theory,” Boyd said.  

The standing student clubs popular with these students are Combat Robotics and NASA Robotics, where the teams incorporate the hands-on skills that make up mechatronics. These extracurricular groups blend the two majors very well. A third robotics club is in the works.  

Studnets work on robots for the robotics club

“It really blends in well with the programs, all types of robots are mechatronic systems, and the students get exposure to that,” Boyd said. “They see the different components. Pretty much any robot is going to have those components that I talked about, the mechanical electrical control and the computer engineering part.”

Senior mechatronics engineering technology major Nicholas Francesconi said his favorite part of the major is how many areas mechatronics covers.  

Francesconi is a member of the Combat Robotics team, and he agrees that it pairs well with the mechatronics programs.  

“Combat robotics definitely helps out with school because it helps us get more physical applications with electrical and mechanical aspects,” Francesconi said. “Combat robotics requires a lot of wiring as well as designing the weapon so that it runs the most efficiently it can.”  

In combat robotics, they use a software called Autodesk Inventor to help design the robots. The software is used throughout the curriculum as well.  

A mechatronics student works on the computer

Jude Carver, a sophomore mechatronics engineering technology major, is familiar with Inventor, which is also known as Computer-Aided Design or CAD.  

“We design stuff on Inventor, which can be 3D printed,” Carver said. “We also use Inventor for our club and our designer bots.”

Going further into the program, Carver said he is looking forward to more premium, hands-on experiences like what he has experienced with combat robotics.  

Adam Turniski, a first-year mechatronics engineering student, shares the same hopes for the rest of his time at Kent State with mechatronics.  

More specifically, Turniski thinks the automation portion of mechatronics is where he wants to take his career, so he is most excited about this.  

“Just the automation part, the systems of it have always intrigued me,” Turniski said. “It’s being able to take a robot and have it do something automatically without being told what to do with manpower.”

Students in the mechatronics program get hands-on experiences

As mechatronics becomes more prevalent, the field is growing and Boyd said the students are well-employed due to industry connections. Some of those connections are alumni.  

“I had one former student email me and said, ‘I have this great job. I love my job, and we have this position open at our Fortune 500 company, and we'd love to get more students from campus,’” Boyd said.

The alumni network is just one example of how the program has grown, Boyd said.

Learn more about the College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

POSTED: Friday, April 12, 2024 01:43 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2024 08:42 AM
Francesca Malinky, Flash Communications
Francesca Malinky