“Everything starts with a dream, a vision, and a passion,” says Michigan Tech alumnus Mr. Mark Gauthier, president of Donald Engineering, Grand Rapids, Mich. “In life, we have very few opportunities to be able to put our hand into something and achieve an earth moving event.”
Mr. Gauthier’s dream is to build a vital, well-trained Mechatronics workforce, and to grow industry in southwestern Michigan. The College of Computing wishes to do the same for that region and the entire state of Michigan.
And the dream is becoming a reality. The digital revolution is well underway in the College of Computing. Throughout the last few years, dozens of individuals, companies, and organizations have channeled their passion, expertise, and resources into building and equipping world-class Mechatronics degree programs at Michigan Tech.
Mechatronics: The Key to Digital Transformation
Key to the digital transformation of our regional and national economy, Mechatronics combines mechanical systems, electrical systems, computing, and control in one holistic discipline.
It is central to smart manufacturing and other high-tech industries, employing technologies ranging from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to process control and utility power systems. Most mechatronics-related entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree.
A common degree in Europe, China, Japan, Russia, and India, advanced study in Mechatronics is an underdeveloped academic discipline in the United States, even though the industrial demand for these professionals is enormous, and continues to grow.
Learn more. What is Mechatronics?
Mechatronics is an industry buzzword synonymous with robotics, controls, automation, and electromechanical engineering.
Passion, Support, Expertise
Mr. Gauthier is always certain to warmly recognize the support, involvement, and expertise of Donald Engineering employees and the company’s key vendors. He says that without them, this dream would never have become a reality. The DE vendors include Continental Hydraulics, Schunk, Milwaukee Cylinder, Clippard, Oilgear, and Ross Controls.
“Equipping industry with 21st century talent and technologies is central to the success of the University and critical for the economic success of the state of Michigan.” says Dr. Dennis Livesay, dean of the College of Computing.
“I am impressed and grateful to all of you. The Mechatronics programs at Tech have become world class in a few short years,” says Dr. Livesay. “The creative thinking and proactive actions of Mark Gauthier, Donald Engineering and its key vendors, and the dedicated support of College Of Computing faculty, staff, and students made this happen.”
The MS in Mechatronics Class of 2021
The Michigan Tech Master of Science in Mechatronics, launched in 2019, has congratulated its first graduates this spring: Chinmay Kondekar, Chukwuemeka George Ochieze, and Ahmat Oumar. Read their stories here.
Promising Fall ’21 Enrollment Numbers
Preliminary fall ’21 enrollment numbers for Mechatronics programs indicate a very high interest in the program.
“I am very proud of the degree we launched at Tech and would like to express special appreciation to Adrienne Minerick, who not only believed in me when I proposed this degree, but actually helped to propel it at Michigan Tech,” says Dr. Aleksandr Sergeyev, professor in Applied Computing. Dr. Minerick was dean of the College of Computing from summer 2019 until February of this year.
Mr. Gauthier adds, “Both Adrienne’s and Aleks’s embrace of this vision, and their efforts to implement programs that prepare Michigan Tech students for careers as mechatronics professionals has been amazing.”
“I am so impressed by people like Alex, Adrienne, and Mark, who have a vision for what can be, and put in the hard work to turn that vision into reality,” says Dr. Dan Fuhrmann, chair of the Applied Computing department. “The early enrollment numbers are a testament to that hard work, and that is only the beginning. I will do what I can to to help keep this train rolling?”
Developing Creative Minds
“Michigan Tech is much more than a University to me. I believe in the University and the drive to develop creative minds,” Mr. Gauthier says. “It is also one of my passions. I call the Houghton city limits the ‘front door to my home.'”
“The effort and vision of the College and University have been amazing, ” Mr. Gauthier adds. “To be able to work with you ALL is a dream come true, for me.”
Mr. Gauthier adds that Michigan Tech did so much for him in a time of deep sadness, as well as helping direct and educate him to become a leader.
“It [my Michigan Tech education] made me work through some tough times and thickened my skin in the meantime,” he says. “I may not be able to pass a calculus class anymore, but I can certainly remember what it did. My entire experience taught me how to learn, how to educate myself, and become independent and accountable to myself. These are key factors that need to be emphasized.”
“Passion moves mountains. Let’s keep this moving. We owe it to our future.”
B.S. in Mechatronics
The College of Computing added a Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics to its degree programs, beginning in Fall 2020.
M.S. in Mechatronics
The College of Computing added a Master of Science in Mechatronics to its degree programs, beginning in Fall 2019.
Chinmay Kondekar, ’21
ECE graduate student Chinmay Kondekar, advised by Professor Sergeyev, designed and produced an interconnected system that is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. The system is used to machine different patterns on a block of foam.
Donald Engineering, (DE), an engineering and distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, and several of the company’s key vendors, have generously designed, built, and funded significant improvements to the Mechatronics Engineering Lab.
In spring 2020, students were using the all-new custom industry-grade equipment, and learning stations. The lab has been dubbed, “The Mechatronics Playground.”
Paul-222: A Smart Disinfector Robot
Funded by Institute of Computing and Cybersystems seed grant from Michigan Tech alumnus Paul Williams, Assistant Professor Nathir Rawashdeh, Applied Computing, has developed a mobile robot disinfector with the help of a seed grant from Michigan Tech alumnus and donor Paul Williams ’61 EE.
“Building a multidisciplinary robot like this, one that contains mechanical, electrical, and computational components, is an example of applied mechatronics at work.,” Rawashdeh says.
Donald Engineering, Mechatronics in Chamber Publication
A February 2021 issue of the “Manufacturing Matters” newsletter, published by the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg (Michigan), includes a feature article about Michigan Tech’s Mechatronics degree programs and learning lab, and the work that alumnus Mark Gauthier is doing to support and promote Mechatronics careers in southwestern Michigan.
Mechatronics, EET Topics of Copper Country Today Radio Program
In a segment on the weekly Copper Country Today radio program, Professor Aleksandr Sergeyev, Applied Computing, and four EET undergraduate students were interviewed about the Mechatronics BS program and an Electrical Engineering Technology Senior Design project benefiting a mobility-impaired girl in Alabama.
Listen to the radio program.
Read two stories about this challenging student project.
EET Project on TV6 Marquette
The Senior Design project completed this academic year by four graduating Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) students was the topic of a news story aired on WLUC-TV6 (Marquette) on April 23, 2021. The students designed and produced a motorized swing set that will help a disabled child enjoy herself and sleep comfortably.
Tackling the project top to bottom, the students designed the electrical system, control and drive systems, and portions of the mechanical design. The students, all graduating EET students, are Joe Barbercheck, Seth Cherry, Heather Harris, and Cole Kubick.
CTE High School Mechatronics Program
Michigan Tech recently launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in Mechatronics for high school juniors or seniors. The new program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD).
Faculty in the Applied Computing disciplines, and faculty in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) department in the College of Engineering are administering the program. The course is instructed by two Mechatronics/ECE master’s degree students (now graduates), George Ochieze and Chinmay Kondekar.
“Teaching for local schools is an opportunity for me to give back to people in the community who welcomed me as an international student,” says Kondekar. “I hope to create a strong interest in robotics and automation in my students. People with these skills will be the future of manufacturing and will have plenty of opportunities.”
Leidos Equips EET, MET La
In 2018 a generous gift from Leidos expanded and refurbished the EET and MET lab spaces on the 4th floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC) and the electrical was upgraded.
With a second Leidos gift in 2019, lab refurbishment was completed and six new state-of-the art learning stations were installed in time for the fall 2019 section of Electrical Machinery (EET 2233). Eagle Mine and the College of Computing each also funded a learning station.
“Selecting and controlling electrical machines are prime examples of the electrical, mechanical, and computing aspects of hardware equipment,” said Professor Nathir Rawashdeh, Applied Computing. “And the new learning units and exercises provide all the tools students need to thoroughly understand these subjects.”