Mechatronics Moments & Roadmap to Building a Community of Practice

In the fall of 2015, FLATE started an informal monthly Mechatronics Community Exchange
(MCE) as monthly conference calls for a few mechatronics focused faculty across the country. Growing out of the FLATE sponsored annual HI-TEC conference “Mechatronics Moments” reception the regular exchange is becoming a real Community of Practice with participants sharing questions about curriculum, equipment, applications, certification, alignment with Fab Lab activities and many other related topics. The MCE can potentially help new programs in their start-up phases, existing programs upgrade equipment and curriculum as well share tips about how best to help students meet their learning objectives.

Although in its infancy, the MCE is planning its future in hopes to:
  • Identify critical topics or issues important to Mechatronics program practitioners
  • Provide inbound delivery of Mechatronics resources, techniques and expertise to enrich program startups and major enhancements to improve practitioner productivity
  • Integrate MCE with other FLATE Mechatronics offerings
  • Become a facilitated forum to identify related needs and the means to fulfill them
  • Provide a portal for selected resources and curriculum for program practitioners using concierge support model
  • Be a vehicle for program practitioners to share their programs, resources and ideas via a central repository and regular communication
Last month’s call, for example, highlighted the new Mechatronics Program at Gateway
Technical College (WI). Greg Chapman shared photos of his PLC and electronics workstations as well as his other laboratories. Engaged discussions ensued about how and what is available from various vendors and how equipment is set up, integrated, and organized for student use and learning. Next month we anticipate an overview of the South Central College (MN) program’s portable “kits” developed by their NSF ATE iMEC project. In the months ahead, FLATE hopes to transform the MCE learning pilot into: an ongoing sponsored program; refine the MCE model and best practices; selectively add new MCE partners; document the monthly MCE teleconferences, and evaluate the project’s impact.

Learn more about this MCE Community of Practice, and if you are interested in joining the MCE contact Jim Janisse, project coordinator  at janissej@uwstout.edu, or FLATE, Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger mbarger@hccfl.edu.