Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje (MACEDONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7290-7296
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The current trends in technology development introduce smart systems (products and processes) in every day life based on integrated functionality of mechanical and electrical components upgraded with information technologies. Mechatronics, as a synergy of basic engineering disciplines (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics, controls and computer science) has established itself as one of the leading engineering disciplines all over the world. Following this ubiquitous trend in engineering development, many universities developed and implemented mechatronics as an engineering study program in their curriculum, taking in consideration that besides the theoretical background the engineering students require more practical-problem based education.

This paper presents the practical-problem based learning implemented in the course of Mechatronic systems at the Faculty of mechanical engineering, Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Macedonia and summarizes the experiences and benefits from implementing this approach.

The practical-problem based education focuses on integration of modern teaching methods, experimental labs, student projects and development of real world mechatronic prototypes, as a step towards better integration of the graduates in the industry environment. Students learn graphical programming using Labview as common software developing platform for all provided mehcatronic kits. Computer based data acquisition and signal processing is supported by practical work on mechatronic kits consisting on simple acquisition card (USB NI6008) and basic electronic components (buttons, switches, potentiometer, DC motor, piezo buzzer, LED diodes: white and RGB, IR diodes, photo resistor and opto switch). The students go through set of exercises simulating real engineering processes and learn how to wire the components, acquire the signals and do simple processing. The second part of the course is devoted to control tasks based on Labview Control Design and Simulation toolkit where the students learn modeling and simulation of dynamic systems, as well as controller design and implementation. The experimental labs are developed on real time and FPGA controllers (NI RIO evaluation kit) where the students learn the basic concepts of controller implementation in real time using FPGA. At the end of the Mechatronic systems course the students are given the possibility to work in team projects such as development of autonomous vehicle and after successful completion using this as their bachelor thesis.

Based on the experiences, it can be summarized that the main features of the practical-problem based education are the students’ motivation for learning initiated by their active lab work. Hand-on lab work yields students to feel success for making a real-world project and to identify the project as their own, which significantly increases the students’ motivation. The traditional education is based on gathering knowledge by memorizing large quantity of information and the practical-problem approach engages students to combine their knowledge and develop engineering reasoning, emphasizing the meaning of engineering problems.
Mechatronics, problem based learning, experimental labs.