Date of Award

12-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Walker, Ian

Committee Member

Wagner , John

Abstract

Mechatronic systems integrate technologies from a variety of engineering disciplines to create solutions to challenging industrial problems. The material handling industry utilizes mechatronics to move, track, and manipulate items in factories and distribution centers. Material handling systems, because of their use of programmable logic controllers (PLC), PLC networks, industrial robotics, and other mechatronic elements, are a natural choice for a college instructional environment. This thesis offers insight and guidance for mechatronic activities introduced in a laboratory setting. A series of eight laboratory experiments have been created to introduce PLCs, robotics, electric circuits, and data acquisition fundamentals. In-depth case studies synthesize the technologies and interpersonal skills together to create a flexible material handling system.
Student response to the course and laboratory material was exceptional. A pre and post course questionnaire was administered which covered topics such as teamwork, human factors, business methods, and various engineering related questions. Quantitative scores resulting from these questionnaires showed a marked improvement by students, especially in regards to technical/engineering questions. The responses from students generally indicated an excitement about course material and a thorough understanding of the various syllabus topics. In this thesis, the multi-disciplinary mechatronics (and material handling systems) laboratory will be presented. An in-depth examination of each laboratory will be offered as well as the discussion of two material handling case studies. The Appendixes contain the PLC and robot code for a order fulfillment case study.

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