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  • Category: Mechatronics

    1010 with … Dr. Alex Sergeyev, Applied Computing

    Are you a high school student, current undergraduate student, or a recent BS graduate? Are you are interested in robotics, automation, and controls?

    You are invited to spend one-zero-one-zero—that is, ten—minutes with Dr. Aleksandr Sergeyev on Thursday, April 15, from 4:30 to 4:40 p.m. EST.

    “If you’d like to learn more about the Mechatronics and the BS and MS programs at Michigan Tech, please join this 1010 conversation,” Professor Sergeyev urges.

    Join the Zoom meeting here.

    Dr. Sergeyev is a professor in the Applied Computing department and director of the Mechatronics graduate program. He also directs the FANUC Certified Industrial Robotics Training Center at Michigan Tech.

    He will discuss his research, the Applied Computing department, and the Mechatronics BS and MS programs. He will answer questions following his presentation.

    Michigan Tech is a pioneer in Mechatronics education, having introduced a graduate degree program in 20xx, and a bachelor’s program in Fall 2019.

    “Mechatronics is an industry buzzword synonymous with robotics, controls, automation, and electromechanical engineering,” Sergeyev says.

    In his presentation, he will discuss Mechatronics in general, explain what the degree has to offer, job opportunities in Mechatronics, and some of the research he is conducting in this field.

    In Spring 2021, a Mechatronics Playground was opened on campus. The hands-on learning lab and industry-grade equipment was funded by alumnus Mark Gauthier of Donald Engineering, Grand Rapids, MI, and other major companies.

    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.

    Sergeyev’s areas of expertise are in electrical and computer engineering, physics, and adaptive optics, and his professional interests include robotics. He is principal investigator for research grants totaling more that $1 million. He received both his MS and PhD degrees at Michigan Tech, in physics and electrical and computer engineering, respectively.

    We look forward to spending 1010 minutes with you!

    A Mechatronics student operates a robotics arm.

    Paul-222: How to Make a Better Robot

    Written by Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing

    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.

    Rawashdeh is looking to develop this idea further and is searching for collaborators, such as those studying human-centered computing and intelligent algorithms. And he’s looking for public facilities interested in helping test the Paul-222 robot, including libraries, grocery stores, and health clinics.

    Read about this timely research below.

    “Building a multidisciplinary robot like this, one that contains mechanical, electrical, and computational components, is an example of applied mechatronics at work.”

    Nathir Rawshdeh, Applied Computing

    Some Background: (UV)-C Light

    Airborne microbial diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, and now the new corona virus, represent major public health challenges. Ultraviolet (UV)-C light, discovered more than a century ago, effectively inactivates these types of pathogens in minutes by damaging the virus’s DNA. It has been studied widely and is used in applications like water treatment and preventing the spread of pathogens in hospitals.

    And UVC light is safe when used correctly. However, its widespread use in public settings is limited because it is harmful to human skin and eyes and it has been shown to cause cancer.

    There are many UV-based surface and air disinfecting systems out there, and they typically use the germicidal UVC 254 nanometer light. And while it is easily obtained, low cost, and very effective, UVC 254 nanometer light is harmful to humans and can be used only when a space is vacant.

    A Safer Alternative: Far-UVC Light

    Recently, experiments have been performed on the shortwave length of 222 nanometer, also knows as Far-UVC light.

    “Far-UVC 222 nm light, on the other hand, efficiently inactivates bacteria and it doesn’t hurt humans,” Rawashdeh explains. “But it’s expensive and difficult to acquire, although as the technology is used more, I expect it will become less costly.”

    Researchers began focusing on Far UVC in the last decade, and it was recently shown to effectively kill viruses and pathogens. (Nature, 2020). The shorter 222 nm wavelength cannot penetrate the tear layer of the eye or the outer dead-cell layer of skin, so it cannot reach or damage living cells in the body. And because Far-UVC is safe for skin and eyes, the products can run constantly, continuously killing pathogens like viruses and bacteria without worry about human exposure.

    “Far-UVC light has a been shown to be incapable of penetrating the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard,” confirms Rawashdeh. “Continuous very low dose-rate Far-UVC light in indoor spaces is a promising and safe tool to reduce the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases.

    Paul-222: An Opportunity for Innovation

    Only a few manufacturers are currently producing Far-UVC products, and Rawashdeh believes the time is right to develop this disinfection technology further.

    “Today’s robots are just carts, they drive into room to irradiate it, then leave the room,” says Rawashdeh,” They don’t have the intelligence for detecting humans or deciding what to disinfect. Several companies are now developing intelligent disinfection robots, but I am convinced that the 254 UVC will remain too dangerous, and that the application of the 222 nm wavelength is much more suitable”.

    Rawashdeh has developed what he calls “Paul-222”, a tele-operated mobile robot disinfector with first-person-view and two wavelengths: a standard 254 nanometer UVC light side and a 222 nanometer Far-UVC side, as a prototype to compare the disinfection efficiency of the two technologies relative to power requirements, radiation intensity, and disinfection times.

    “The next version of this prototype will be an autonomous and collaborative robot,” says Rawashdeh. “It will be aware of human presence and disinfect while the room is occupied. This doesn’t exist today.”

    Designed and Built at Michigan Tech

    The prototype was designed and built at Michigan Tech during the COVID-19 quarantine in summer 2020.

    There was an emergency call for Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) seed grant proposals in May 2020 to address COVID-19, and Rawashdeh had only two weeks to apply. But in less than a month, he had won the funding—as did several colleagues in the College of Computing—received access to the funds, and started building and testing.

    “This was a very generous gift from Paul Williams through the ICC,” Rawashdeh said.

    Rawashdeh completed the disinfector as a solo project while the labs were closed for group work, with help from EET undergraduate Austin Kucharski, who helped build the remote-control components.

    Thorough testing has confirmed the effectiveness of both sides of the unit. The UVC side kills the coronavirus in ten seconds at a distance of three feet, while the Far-UVC side needs three minutes. The disinfector can be recharged simply by plugging it into an electrical outlet.

    Rawshdeh oversees the Mobile Robotics Lab, which pursues work in mobile robots, depth sensing, robot environment simulation, image analysis, thermal imaging, sensor fusion, electrical engineering and control. Visit the lab’s website at

    The Prototype

    Paul-222 is a prototype, which means that it is composed of a mix of off-the-shelf parts and materials. For instance, a camping battery powers the lights and electronics, and the oscillating light bar in the front of the unit is an automotive accessory. A separate battery powers the motion of the unit, and the first-person-view is based on a wireless backup camera and screen system for RVs. One of the reflecting fixture backsides is a metallic automotive dash cover.

    Safety was an important consideration in the design of the disinfector. A camera in the front of the unit provides first-person view for remote operation. Flashing lights alert those in the vicinity, and remote operation means it can be controlled from a distance only when it’s safe.

    Searching for Collaborators

    Rawashdeh is looking to develop this idea further and is searching for collaborators, such as those studying human-centered computing and intelligent algorithms. And he’s looking for public facilities interested in helping test the Paul-222 robot, including libraries, grocery stores, and health clinics.

    “There will likely be a next pandemic, and such robots can be deployed at outbreak hot spots” Rawashdeh says. “Fighting pathogens will continue to be a priority.”

    Rawashdeh plans to present his invention at a future technical conference. He also expects to demonstrate the protype at future campus events and technology exhibits.

    Watch a video demonstration of the disinfecting robot.

    The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems

    Rawashdeh is a member of the Center for Data Sciences (DataS) research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) focuses on the research of data sciences education, algorithms, mathematics, and applications.

    “The ICC is always encouraging and supporting us to write proposals and collaborate,” Rawashdeh says. “The results of this research are a great example of what the ICC can do in a short time. I’m grateful to Paul Williams, the ICC, and ICC director Tim Havens for their support.”

    Chamber Publishes Article about Mechatronics Playground

    The most recent issue of the “Manufacturing Matters” newsletter, published by the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, 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.

    View the newsletter here. The text appears below. A video about the Mechatronics Playground, also included in the article, can be viewed here.

    Donald Engineering Supports Mechatronics Playground at Michigan Tech

    From the February 2021 issue of Manufacturing Matters, a newsletter published by the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg.

    With increases in smart technology, including IoT and Industry 4.0, things are changing in manufacturing. To help its graduates remain competitive, Michigan Technological University has combined the technologies of mechanical and electrical engineering into one degree: Mechatronics.

    The multidisciplinary program combines these disciplines, along with fluid power, robotics, software, and computational hardware for a comprehensive education in the most current Mechatronics standards and products.

    M.S. in Mechatronics was begun at Michigan Tech two years ago, and this year a B.S. in Mechatronics was added with encouragement and support from Mark Gauthier, Michigan Tech alumnus and president of Donald Engineering (DE).

    Mechatronics courses and degrees can be pursued on-campus, with some courses available online. Co-op options and graduate certificates are available for those interested in expanding their on-the-job knowledge. FANUC industrial certification in robotics is available for those already working in industry.

    View the full article here.

    1010 with … Nathir Rawashdeh, Weds., Dec. 16

    Nathir Rawashdeh (right) and Dan Fuhrmann, Interim Dean, Dept. of Applied Computing

    You are invited to spend one-zero-one-zero—that is, ten—minutes with Dr. Nathir Rawashdeh on Wednesday, December 16, from 5:30 to 5:40 p.m.

    Rawashdeh is assistant professor of applied computing in the College of Computing at Michigan Tech.

    He will present his current research work, including the using artificial intelligence for autonomous driving on snow covered roads, and a mobile robot using ultraviolet light to disinfect indoor spaces. Following, Rawashdeh will field listener questions.

    We look forward to spending 1010 minutes with you!

    Join 1010 with Nathir Rawashdeh here.

    Did you miss last week’s 1010 with Chuck Wallace? Watch the video below.

    1010 with … Chuck Wallace, Assoc. Prof, Computer Science, December 9, 2020.

    The 1010 with … series will continue on Wednesday afternoons in the new year on January 6, 13, 20, and 27 … with more to come!

    College of Computing Convocation is December 18, 3:30 pm

    Congratulations Class of 2020!

    We are looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates at a Class of 2020 virtual Convocation program on Friday, December 18, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. EST.

    Join the virtual event here.

    The celebration will include special well-wishes from CC faculty and staff, and many will be sporting their graduation regalia. It is our privilege to welcome Ms. Dianne Marsh, 86, ’92, as our Convocation speaker. Dianne is Director of Device and Content Security for Netflix, and a member of the new College of Computing External Advisory Board.

    We may be spread across the country and world this December, but we can still celebrate with some style. We look forward to sharing our best wishes with the Class of 2020 and wishing them continued success as they embark on the next phase of their lives!

    This December, 40 students are expected to graduate with College of Computing degrees, joining 92 additional Class of 2020 PhD, MS, and BS alumni.

    Dianne Marsh

    Dianne Marsh ’86, ’92 is Director of Device and Content Security for Netflix. Her team is responsible for securing the Netflix streaming client ecosystem and advancing the platform security of Netflix-enabled devices. Dianne has a BS (’86) and MS (’92) in Computer Science from Michigan Tech.

    Visit the Class of 2020 Webpage

    Congratulations Graduates. We’re proud of you.

    “It’s Working!” — CCISD, Michigan Tech Launch New CTE Program in Mechatronics

    Michigan Tech recently launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for high school juniors or seniors in the area of Mechatronics. The new CTE Mechatronics program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). 

    Teaming up to deliver the instruction are faculty in the Mechatronics, Electrical and Robotics Engineering Technology (MERET) program in the College of Computing, and faculty in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) Department in the College of Engineering

    Michigan Tech faculty administering the CTE program include Prof. John Irwin, Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, or Prof. Alex Sergeyev in the College of Computing. 

    “Students in the program will find careers in smart manufacturing fields, or they can find a pathway at Michigan Tech into undergraduate or graduate degrees in Engineering Technology, Engineering, or Mechatronics.” says Irwin.

    There are 10 students enrolled this fall 2020 from the local area school districts of Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, and L’Anse. CTE Director Shawn Kolbus expects the program to only increase in popularity. “Local business owners approached us last year wanting to get more students from the area interested in Mechatronics, CADD and Engineering,” he says. “The result was the Mechatronics program which encompasses standards from each area.” 

    The course is taught by two mechatronics professionals who possess both industry and teaching experience. One of those instructors is George Ochieze, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Mechatronics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Even in difficult times during the pandemic, these young scholars show overwhelming potential to conquer the mechatronics field—a glimpse into a welcoming future in engineering,” says Ochieze.

    The second instructor, Chinmay Kondekar, will earn an MS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2021. “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.”

    Program enrollment is closed for 2020, but will be available again starting in fall 2021. This spring there will be the opportunity for area sophomore and junior students to visit Michigan Tech to tour the labs and meet the instructors. Both the Applied Computing and MMET department labs used at Michigan Tech are equipped with state-of-the-art electronics and mechanical systems partially provided through generous startup funding from the CCISD.

    Mechatronics uses electromechanical systems, typically automated for the design of products and processes. Industry 4.0—sometimes called the “fourth industrial revolution”—applies various aspects of mechatronics to manufacturing enterprises. Topics in the CTE Mechatronics program include; automation, computer integrated manufacturing, high speed manufacturing, embedded systems design and controls, industrial robotics, pneumatics, hydraulics, and computer-aided design. 

    For more information please contact Shawn Kolbus, Director, Career and Technical Education, Copper Country Intermediate School District (906) 250-5353.