National magazine features CSU–Pueblo mechatronics program

Colorado State University-Pueblo’s mechatronics program in the College of Education, Engineering, and Professional Studies (CEEPS) was touted as one of only three schools in the nation to offer mechatronic degrees as part of a cover story in the June 2008 issue of Mechanical Engineering. The cover story investigates this blending of mechanical and electronic engineering and asks which specialty area in engineering should or will lead the development of the next generation of electro-mechanical systems.

Dr. Hector Carrasco, dean of the CEEPS, said he was proud that CSU-Pueblo was in the company of California State University-Chico and North Carolina State University (a joint program at Raleigh and Asheville) as having the foresight to offer the innovative program.

Until 2005 when mechatronics was introduced to the CSU-Pueblo curriculum, the University only offered industrial engineering, which Engineering Department Chair Jane Fraser said is an ideal platform for mechatronics because it focuses on results rather than on gears or circuits. The CSU-Pueblo Engineering Department has four majors: industrial engineering, BSE-Mechatronics (engineering), pre-engineering, and a Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering. The majors in mechatronics have grown steadily since the program’s inception, with 18 majors in 2005, 30 in 2006, and 49 majors in 2007. The program anticipates about 60 BSE-Mechatronics majors in 2008. Given that enrollment growth, Mechatronics has become the largest program in engineering.

In the article, Fraser notes that she was first against the introduction of the mechatronics program because she felt it was “too gadget-oriented,” but she now believes it is where the engineering field is heading. She said the industry professionals with whom she works have requested graduates who are trained to integrate electronics, controls, computers, and moving parts. Fraser believes the students should be engineers first and mechanical, electrical, or other types of engineers second.

CSU-Pueblo Engineering Professor Neb Jaksic speaks to the demanding nature of the mechatronics field, “It’s extremely hard for many of the University students who had a little robot in school and thought they would just play with it some more and get a degree for that,” he said. “Mechatronics does take a certain mindset, and it’s not just about playing with resistors or gears.”

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