As industrial technology evolves, further blurring the lines between mechanical and electrical disciplines, industry and academia are striving to keep pace. Purdue University Calumet's School of Technology recently received a $150,000 National Science Foundation grant in support of the school's new mechatronics engineering technology program. From Purdue's perspective, mechatronics engineering technology combines mechanical design, manufacturing, and electrical control within a foundational context of packaging machinery. The program prepares students for jobs as machine designers, packaging engineers, automation specialists, and service technicians in the growing field of high-speed packaging.

In other university news, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), which in 2006 established the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering, has announced that it will also offer a master of science degree in the field starting this fall, becoming the only university in the U.S. with both undergraduate and graduate programs in robotics engineering. Students completing an MS program in robotics engineering will complete 36 credit hours of work along with either a thesis or capstone design project.

“Robots are already transforming fields as diverse as medicine, manufacturing, and battlefield surveillance,” says John Orr, WPI's provost. “As we move from the age of automation to the age of robotics, we will see a tremendous demand for graduates who understand all aspects of robotic design and control. Our interdisciplinary approach to robotics engineering education prepares students for leadership in the industry by providing a firm grounding in the fundamentals of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering, as well as the management and systems contexts in which robotic technology is developed and marketed.”

For more information, check out www.calumet.purdue.edu or www.wpi.edu.