Sam Cubero - PhD (USQ), BE Hons Mech (UQ)
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|My personal views about mechatronic engineering education in general|
education should mentally and psychologically prepare students to become
technically competent and effective users and designers of mechatronic
systems, sensors, computer controllers and robotic automation
Almost all modern automation systems and computer-controlled machines rely
on mechatronic engineering design and control principles, and you will
find such systems in almost all kinds of industries.
A mechatronic engineering degree course should show students how to use, design and build reliable, safe and cost-effective machine components, mechanisms, actuators / motors, sensors, electronic controllers, sensor interface circuits, and user-friendly control software. Mechatronic engineering students should be given the opportunity to analyse, design and test control systems that are tailor-made for specific motion control and measurement applications. All the subjects that I teach are updated and improved to adapt to the latest technologies and advancements, to ensure that graduates are up-to-date and aware of the latest and newest tools and technologies that they will commonly encounter and use in industry. I believe that students should be taught very important 'life skills', like how to learn effectively and quickly, how to solve unfamiliar problems, how to conduct independent research successfully, how to work effectively and achieve goals with other people in teams, how to manage and execute projects efficiently and economically and how to develop a "connective mind" in order to unlock and realize their creative and inventive potential.
A very distinguished and famous colleague of mine, Professor John Billingsley, has over 40 years of experience in teaching control engineering, robotics and automation engineering, and is widely regarded as one of the top robotics and control experts in the world. He has authored several internationally published textbooks and hundreds of technical papers, and has several patents and inventions to his credit, such as the world's first operational laser printer. Professor Billingsley had designed and created novel control systems for several internationally famous mobile and walking robots, such as Robug 2, Toad and the Hydra, and has consulted on and developed dozens of industry projects relating to control and automation, such as the auto-pilot system for the world's first "vision guided" self-steering tractor. In 2006, Professor John Billingsley was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the IEE (UK), (now called IET, one of the world's most respected institutes for engineering and technology). This award is one of 12 that are awarded each year to people who have made significant contributions to the world of science and technology. John is a shining example of a brilliant inventor, scientist, engineer and academic, a role model worthy of imitating.
The future for mechatronic and automation engineers looks very exciting and rewarding indeed, because more and more machines, devices and vehicles are being built using mechatronic design and control principles, and there is an ever-increasing number of employers who want to employ mechatronic engineers, due to their large range of practical and useful skills, and the need to be more competitive in the marketplace. More industries are turning to automation and robotic engineering technologies to boost productivity, streamline operations, eliminate dangerous or physically demanding jobs, and minimize all risks to human health and safety. A graduate mechatronic engineer is like a "Swiss Army Knife" engineer... a "Jack of all trades"... a master of the basics who does not "specialize" in any one particular area of engineering, but can competently create effective and reliable solutions and equipment by combining and using the most important knowledge and practical skills from a variety of different but relevant areas of engineering, in a synergistic manner. Mechatronic engineers generally tend to experience very high job satisfaction because they often get to work with a very wide variety of different high-tech tools and technologies. Because software and scientific technologies keep evolving at a rapid pace, mechatronic engineers can be presented with something new and useful to learn, almost every day. Mechatronic engineering work rarely gets repetitive and monotonous because each day presents new and interesting challenges and intellectually stimulating problems to solve. It is very hard to become "bored" when doing mechatronic engineering work because the very large range of useful tools and technologies that can be learned and used to solve difficult problems keeps this kind of job very engaging and interesting. Also, there is great satisfaction and excitement to be experienced when seeing newly designed machines and inventions move and "come to life" for the first time, especially after many hours of thought, design, analysis and trouble-shooting.
Words cannot describe the joy and satisfaction of building and creating useful things that work and solve real problems.
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