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Mechatronics: the Evolution of an Academic Discipline in Engineering Education
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Mechatronics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3699-5049
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Machine Design (Div.).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5673-1027
2005 (English)In: Mechatronics (Oxford), ISSN 0957-4158, E-ISSN 1873-4006, Vol. 15, no 2, 179-192 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 In a didactic approach to mechatronics, the academic subject can be defined according to four dimensions: identity, legitimacy, selection and communication. A result of defining the legitimacy of mechatronics as functional is that the ultimate identity can be viewed as thematic. Following this, a model is proposed to describe the evolution of mechatronics, from a disciplinary identity towards a thematic. The move from a disciplinary identity to a thematic is divided into six stages, each represented by a characteristic view and academic practice of the subject. To further illustrate this evolutional process examples from various universities in northern Europe are given. The universities analysed for this purpose presents examples for stages 3-5 in the model; stages represented by a change in courses (stage 3), a change in curricula (stage 4) and by a change in organization (stage 5).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 15, no 2, 179-192 p.
Keyword [en]
mechatronics evolution, education, didactical analysis
National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8952DOI: 10.1016/j.mechatronics.2004.07.010ISI: 000226871200003ScopusID: 2-s2.0-12244291933OAI: diva2:14456

QC 20100922

Available from: 2005-12-21 Created: 2005-12-21 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Mechatronics Engineering Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mechatronics Engineering Education
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Since its emergence in the late 1960s, mechatronics has become well-established as an academic subject, and is now researched and taught at a large number of universities worldwide. The most widely-used definition of the subject today is centered on the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering, electronics, and intelligent computer control.

The aim of this thesis is to work between the disciplines of engineering education and mechatronics to address both the question of the identity of the subject of mechatronics and the ways in which this identity can be reflected in the practice of mechatronics education.

Empirical data from the literature is supplemented with further data from four case studies with approaches varying from exploratory case studies and ethnographic in-depth studies to explanatory studies with an action research based approach.

The process and results of the investigation can be divided into three aspects. Firstly, analysis of the subject of mechatronics shows that its identity is thematic and its legitimacy is functional, implying that the selection and communication of the subject ought to be exemplifying and interactive respectively. Secondly, and following this analysis, the concept of international collaboration is used as the implementation for the first two case studies. The results of these studies show a relationship between collaborative projects and enhanced disciplinary learning and skills, increased awareness of cultural differences, and improved motivation. Another potential implementation, experimental learning, is then tested in two action research based studies focusing on fast prototyping and individual access to laboratory equipment.

Mechatronics is a special subject, not easily understood or taught. To be mechatronic is to be synergistic, and to be synergistic generally demands expertise in all underlying subjects. The conclusion of this thesis is that this requires a non-traditional education where the focus is on training rather than studying, coaching rather than teaching, experimenting rather than reading, working together rather than apart, and being mechatronic rather than studying mechatronics.

Abstract [sv]

Mekatronik som ämne uppstod under 1960-talets senare del och har sedan dess etablerats som akademiskt ämne som beforskas och undervisas på ett stort antal universitet runt om i världen. Den idag mest utbredda definitionen av ämnet fokuserar på synergi och synergistisk integration av maskinteknik, elektronik och intelligent datorstyrning.

Målsättningen med denna avhandling är att bidra till forskning i området mellan de två fälten ingenjörsutbildning och mekatronik. Forskningsfrågan behandlar identiteten hos ämnet mekatronik och hur denna identitet kan återspeglas i undervisningens praktik.

Empiriskt material för denna avhandling har hämtats från litteraturen tillsammans med fyra fallstudier. Forskningsmetodiken i fallstudierna har varierats från utforskande fallstudier och etnografiska djuplodande studier till förklarande studier med en aktionsforskningsansats.

Studien och resultaten därutav kan delas in i tre delar. Den första delen behandlar ämnet mekatronik och visar att ämnets identitet är tematisk och att legitimiteten är funktionell. Detta innebär att ämnets selektion och kommunikation bör vara exemplifierande respektive interaktiv. I den andra delen används denna definition för studier av internationellt samarbete i mekatronik, vilket utgör basen för de två första fallstudierna. Resultaten från dessa studier visar på en relation mellan det internationella samarbetet och ett ökat disciplinärt lärande, ökad medvetenhet om kulturella skillnader samt en ökad motivation. Den tredje delen relateras till ytterligare en tänkbar implementation av definitionen, en idé om experimentellt lärande. Denna prövas i två studier baserade på aktionsforskning som behandlar snabb prototypframställning och individuell tillgång till avancerad laborationsutrustning.

Mekatronik är ett speciellt ämne, inte helt enkelt att förstå eller undervisa. Att vara mekatronisk innebär att vara synergistisk, och att vara synergistisk kräver vanligtvis expertkunskap i de underliggande områdena. Resultatet av denna avhandling är att detta kräver en icke-traditionell undervisning där fokus är på träning snarare än studerande, handledning och guidning snarare än undervisning, experimenterande snarare än läsning, arbete tillsammans snarare än individuellt och att vara mekatronisk snarare än att studera mekatronik.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2006:01
mechatronics, thematic subject, synergy, engineering education, international collaboration, experimental learning, didactical analysis, mekatronik, tematiskt ämne, synergi, ingenjörsutbildning, internationellt samarbete, experimentellt lärande, didaktisk analys
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-569 (URN)91-7178-213-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-01-13, Salongen, KTHB, Osquars backe 31, Stockholm, 10:00
QC 20100609Available from: 2005-12-21 Created: 2005-12-21 Last updated: 2010-06-09Bibliographically approved
2. Learning Mechatronics: In Collaborative, Experimental and International settings
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning Mechatronics: In Collaborative, Experimental and International settings
2002 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The academic subject of mechatronics has been definedpreviously in numerous publications. This study aims atanalyzing mechatronics by using categories developed within theeducational science of Didactics. The result of the analysis,that relies on data from mechatronics education at KTH andother universities, shows that the identity of mechatronics canbe described as thematic, and the legitimacy as functional,which gives implications for the questions of communication andselection: what should be taught, and how. This is combinedwith a study of the evolution of the subject of mechatronics,where it is possible to see the gradually changing identity,from a combination of a number of disciplinary subjects to onethematic subject.

The first part of the thesis concludes that mechatronics isautonomous, thematic and functional. Teaching and learningmechatronics according to the identity and legitimacy of thesubject benefits from collaborative, experimental andinternational settings. The functional legitimacy todayrequires the collaborative and the international setting,meaning that the mechatronics employer requires these skillswhen employing a mechatronic engineer. Further, an exemplifyingselection requires the experimental setting, in particular whencomparing a representative selection with the reproduction ofknowledge, and an exemplifying selection with the creation ofknowledge.

To conclude, there are a number of important aspects to takeinto account when teaching and learning mechatronics. Three ofthese aspects, collaborative, experimental and internationalare suggested as important, and also a direct consequence ofthe identity of mechatronics. This thesis shows that thesethree aspects are indeed possible to integrate intomechatronics education, which will benefit greatly fromthis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2002. xi, 34 p.
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2002:20
Mechatronics, engineering education, collaborative-, experimental-, distributed- and opportunity learning, prototype design
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-1515 (URN)
QC 20100609Available from: 2003-02-13 Created: 2003-02-13 Last updated: 2010-06-09Bibliographically approved

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