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Mechatronics Education at Bulacan State University

Conference Paper · September 2009


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10th International Workshop on Research and Education in Mechatronics
September 10th-11th 2009, Glasgow, UK


Nasher G. Jimenez1, Erwin dR. Magsakay2, Nilo T. Bugtai3

Bulacan State University, Department of Mechatronics Engineering – Automation Research and Training,
Malolos City,Philippines
De La Salle University, Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management,
Manila, Philippines

Abstract: The exigency of a new multi-disciplinary engineering philosophy transpires within many indus-
tries in dealing with the challenges of integrating their human and technical resources to achieve concurrency
in all operations over the last few decades. Currently, in the Philippines, there was a growing technology gap
between the graduates produced by many state colleges and universities to the demands of high technology
industry as results of various collaborations. To address this escalating problem, a group of experts with
proven competency in their respective engineering fields relevant and vital to mechatronics was formed
among faculty members of Bulacan State University [BulSU] to spearhead the development of a full blown
mechatronics engineering curriculum in the undergraduate level in response to the call for a new and ad-
vanced engineering discipline. This paper discusses the emergence as well as advancements, designs, imple-
mentation framework, and future directives of BulSU Mechatronics Engineering.

Key words: Bulacan State University (BulSU), Mechatronics Education.

Many universities, especially in the developed coun-
tries, have started to dispense the passive learning
I INTRODUCTION and old-fashioned approaches normally found on
traditional engineering systems with an active educa-
The exigency of a new multi-disciplinary engineering tion being set out in mechatronics.
philosophy transpires within many industries in deal- Currently, in the Philippines, there was a growing
ing with the challenges of integrating their human technology gap between the graduates produced by
and technical resources to achieve concurrency in all many state colleges and universities to the demands
operations over the last few decades. The develop- of high technology industry as results of various col-
ment of even more sophisticated technologies had laborations. To address this escalating problem, a
posed an increasing demand on a new engineering group of experts with proven competency in their
approach [1]. Thus, the term mechatronics had come respective engineering fields relevant and vital to
into its existence and was first used in the late 1960s mechatronics was formed to spearhead the develop-
by a Japanese Electric Company to describe the en- ment of a full blown mechatronics engineering cur-
gineering integration between mechanical and elec- riculum in the undergraduate level in accordance
trical systems [2],[3]. with the top management ideals and objectives of
Recently, mechatronics system engineering has Bulacan State University [BulSU], that is, to bridging
gained much recognition and importance in the in- the gap between academe and industry.
dustrial world, and therefore many countries and uni-
versities have established engineering degrees in
mechatronics program [4],[5]. Exploring the mode II BULSU MECHATRONICS
and way of implementing mechatronics engineering DEVELOPMENT
education was extensively evident during the last
decade [6],[7]. Moreover, mechatronics has been
vastly spreading in all parts of the world, especially
A. Needs and motivations
in developed countries, with a wide acceptance from The emergence of mechatronics engineering at
industrial and academic community [8],[9]. BulSU was driven by various needs and motivations
Mechatronics engineering provides a holistic ap- which resulted to rapid transformations in technical
proach on the fundamentals, design modelling and and human resources that gained interest and support
methodologies, and systems integration framework from industries.
towards the realization of intelligent products and
processes. Mechatronics is an emerging discipline 1) Industrial Needs: The advancement of highly
challenging the traditional thinking and practices [5]. sophisticated technology had forced many industries
REM2009, Glasgow, UK

to seek for engineers with great deep and wide range A. Design Model of BulSU Mechatronics
of knowledge that will coherently solve specialized
problems, and capable of handling complex tasks. The BulSU Mechatronics Engineering was founded
over the systems integration platform of control,
2) Academic Needs: Recently, with the rising electronics, electrical, and mechanical systems. The
complexity of engineering, the pursuant of active synergetics of these systems brings forth the linkage
learning combined with the multi-disciplinary ap- of mechanics, electronics and informatics aspects that
proach will greatly resolved the deficiencies of tradi- reveal the mechatronics core as depicted in Figure 1.
tional and passive learning approaches.
3) Economic Needs: Multi-disciplinary re-
searches are one of the cutting edges being look upon
by many sectors in the Philippines to uplift the tech-
nology and drooping economic conditions. Knowl-
edge integrations and applications were perceived to
be the greatest creator of wealth in the next decades.
4) Social Needs: Mutual cooperation among en-
gineers as well as to other professionals will open up
roads having cohesive environment towards the at-
tainment of common goals.

B. BulSU Mechatronics Milestones

• 1995 Start of Advanced Manufacturing
Technologies [AMT] Acquisition.
• 2000 Creation of Automation Training Cen-
ter [ATC].
• 2002 Advanced Faculty Trainings were exe-
cuted on Mechatronics Systems and Technology
• 2003 Final Drafting of Bachelor of Science in
Mechatronics Engineering [BSMEE] Curricu-
lum; University Academic Council Approval Figure 1: BulSU Mechatronics Concept Model
was secured; BulSU Board of Reagents ap-
proved the curriculum; Start of the 1st Batch of B. Design Model for Multi-Disciplinary
BSMEE at 3rd year level; Creation of Mechatron-
ics Engineering – Automation Research and Engineering Education
Training [MEE-ART] Department. The synergism of the core disciplines and support
• 2004 Education and Proliferation of Mecha- disciplines/areas as depicted in Fig. 2 curved the
tronics Engineering to other SUCs. multi-disciplinary design of BulSU Mechatronics
• 2005 Creation of Association of Integrated Engineering en route to the design and/or manufac-
Mechatronics Engineering Students [AIMEES]. ture of intelligent products and processes.
• 2006 First Batch of Bachelor of Science in
Mechatronics Engineering [BSMEE] graduates.
• 2008 Establishment of Bachelor of Science in
Mechatronics Technology [BSMET] in the Col-
lege of Industrial Technology [CIT]; Design and
Implementation of Computer Integrated Manu-
facturing [CIM] Laboratory Transformation Pro-


Deliberate and careful study has been made in order
to involve all possible design aspects vital to the start
up and advancements of the new and multi-
disciplinary engineering course.

Figure 2: BulSU Mechatronics Engineering Paradigm

REM2009, Glasgow, UK

C. Design for Curriculum • Motion Control Technology Lab

• Mechatronics Training Center
The Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics Engineer- 2) Foundational Engineering Laboratories
ing [BSMEE] curriculum was initially instigated with • EE Lab
the main trust of rapid advancement in the different • ECE Lab
specialized areas of development or domains practi- • ME Lab
cally present and needed in many industries. These • COE Computer Lab
domains were explicitly described in Table 1. 3) Support Laboratories
• Physics Lab
Domain Description • Chemistry Lab
MSID Mechatronics Systems Integration Domain The succeeding figures, Fig. 3-5, provide a
IRICD Industrial Robotics and Intelligent Controls
glimpse on some of the facilities and equipments be-
ing used for students’ and professionals’ trainings.
MSMD Manufacturing Systems Management Do-
IIPCD Industrial Instrumentation and Process Con-
trol Domain
EDCD Electric Drives and Controls Domain
HMISD Human Machine Interfacing/SCADA Do-
ICD Industrial Communications Domain
SDD Software Development Domain

Table 1: BulSU Mechatronics Domains

Each domain contains sub-area called pre-

requisite(s) and co-requisite(s) subjects arranged in a
structured and ladderized manner and lateral progres-
sion respectively. Figure 2: Mechatronics Training Center

D. Design for Faculty

To support the advancement of the different domains
previously presented, faculty members excelling in
the mechatronics related field and some having in-
dustrial backgrounds was tasked to have dual or spe-
cial functions with MEE-ART Department. Various
combinations consisting 2 Mechanical Engineers, 2
Electrical Engineers, 3 Electronics and Communica-
tions Engineers and 2 Computer Engineers were
geared up to position as lead and support of each

E. Design for Laboratory Figure 4: Mechatronics Training Unit

The training and laboratory facilities of BulSU
Mechatronics Engineering were designed to have
Major Laboratories on top of the Foundational Engi-
neering and Support Laboratories.
1) Major Laboratories
• Mechatronics E-Learning Lab
• Pneumatics Lab
• Hydraulics Lab
• PLC Lab
• CNC Lab
• Electrical Machines and Motor Control Lab
• Micro-Controller and Micro-Processor Lab
• Robotics Lab
• Machine Vision Systems Lab
• Instrumentation and Process Control Lab Figure 5: Articulated RV-500 Robot
REM2009, Glasgow, UK

F. Design for Learning Methodologies, cations Engineer, Environmental Engineer, and

Materials and Projects Health/Safety Engineer, and New Job Areas such as
Circuit Design Engineer, Package Design Engineer,
The integration of theoretical knowledge and practi- Software Development Engineer, Automation and
cal skills using active education approach were im- Control Engineer, Test Development Engineer and
plemented through program delivery nearly equal to Product Development Engineer. Correspondingly,
50 percent of mechatronics theory and fundamentals mutual cooperation and linkages forms collaborations
complimented by 50 percent hands-on/practical ap- that will mitigate the mismatches and knowledge
plications. This project-based learning methodology gaps. As a result, the core competencies were estab-
builds an in-depth understanding and wide-range lished and incorporated accordingly in various year
backgrounds in the different mechatronics domains. levels of BSMEE to produce mechatronics engineers
Correspondingly, the associated learning process in- having holistic idea on the industrial floor.
• Project Planning The following are the competencies that the students
• Requirements Definition are expected of. Table 2 provides clear details of
• Conceptualization various technologies per year level that can be ac-
• Project/Product/Circuit Design quired in the BSMEE curriculum.
• Fabrication/Construction/Assembly
• Testing and Refinement Year Competency/Technology Level
Level [Expertise Acquired]
• Technical Documentations
5th Year Mechatronics Technology, Industrial In-
Currently, the projects being developed as shown strumentation and Process Control Technol-
in Figure 6 include engraving machine for manufac- ogy, Precision Motion Control Technology,
turing cell integration, and modular design of auto- Advanced PLC Technology, Expert Systems
matic storage and retrieval system for integration into Safety and Risk Assessment, Technology
an asynchronous transfer system. and Project Life Cycle Management, Human
Machine Interfacing, Industrial Robotics,
Industrial Communications and Net-
4th Year PLC Technology, CNC Technology, Indus-
trial Motor Control Technology, Advanced
Hydraulics Technology, Advanced Pneu-
matics Technology, Micro-Controllers and
Micro-Processor Systems, Power Electron-
ics Applications
3rd Year Pneumatics Technology, Hydraulics Tech-
nology, Computer Aided Drafting and De-
sign, Electrical Technology, Electronics
Technology, Mechanical Processes and
2nd Year C++ / Visual Basic Programming, Advanced
Engineering Mathematics & Sciences Profi-
ciency, Advanced Communication Skills
Figure 6: Integrated Manufacturing Cell 1st Year Engineering Mathematics & Sciences Profi-
ciency, Communication Skills
G. Design for Industrial Solutions and
Linkages Table 2: Core Competencies per Year Level
The BulSU Mechatronics Engineering was designed
to bridge the gap between high technology industries H. Design for Department’s Organizational
and the academe. Various factors were considered Structure
significantly in the strategic and careful planning to
address most of the industrial needs. This includes The organizational structure of Mechatronics Engi-
Emerging Industrial Fields of Expertise such as neering – Automation Research and Training [MEE-
Mechatronics, μElectronics, Test Technology, Circuit ART] Department as revealed in Fig. 6 was designed
Design, Quality and Reliability, Material Science, to have three functional divisions that will handle and
Competency Development, Metrology and Pecision expedite various areas of transformations.
Technology; Main Job Areas in Manufacturing Floor The Mechatronics Engineering [MEE] Division is
such as Product and Test Engineer, Process Engineer, tasked to (1) train the students in the synergistic inte-
Quality and Reliability Engineer, and quipment En- gration of precision mechanical engineering, electri-
gineer; Technical Support Job Areas such as Facili- cal and electronics control engineering, and computer
ties Enginner, Industrial Engineer, IT and Communi- science into the design, fabrication/assembly and test
REM2009, Glasgow, UK

used to accelerate the technology transfer engine as

shown in Figure 7.


and Development

and Services
Figure 7: Organizational Structure General
of intelligent products and processes; (2) embed the Tie Ups Adoption
students with the multi – disciplinary knowledge and
skills capable of responding to the global need of
high technology industry; and (3) develop and pro-
duce inter – disciplinary graduates with the sense of
responsibility, accountability, urgency and love of
work, and concerned in the enhancement of aesthet- Figure 7: Technology Transfer Engine
ics and cultural values.
The Automation Training and Extension [ATE]
K. Design for Strategic Implementation
Division is responsible for advanced trainings and
competency development of professionals both in The implementation scheme of this new engineering
academe and industry. discipline requires tactical procedures and processes
The Research and Facility Development [RFD] leading to its success. The course marketing includes
Division is in-charge in handling the step up of tech- various means to gain acceptance to incoming fresh-
nology researches as well as in the laboratory up- man and possible shifters. Step by step integrative,
grading and expansion that will further accelerate the holistic, concurrent engineering, and goal-oriented
advancement of the aforementioned divisions. and supportive management approach were simulta-
neously implemented to achieve its target objectives
I. Design for Student’s Organizational during the early stages of transformation.
Structure 1) Course Marketing and Recruitment: Different
forms of advertisements were done to disseminate
The organizational structure of BSMEE students was information and encourage secondary students to
also designed so as to facilitate free flow of informa- pursue this new field of engineering emerging all
tion and cooperation towards the attainment of accel- over the world. Campaigns were initially done
erated developments of the three divisions of MEE- through discussions with the general engineering stu-
ART Department. The student’s organization was dents of BulSU. Moreover, orientations on secondary
named Association of Integrated Mechatronics Engi- schools primarily in the province were conducted.
neering Students or AIMEES. The AIMEES also acts as a marketing arm using the
“words of mouth” to spread the good news regarding
J. Design for Technology Transfer Activi- this innovative engineering discipline. Trainings to
ties other engineering faculty in many parts of country as
well as media coverage were made, thus, providing a
Complete technology transfer scheme/roadmap was powerful means of sharing the fundamental nature
designed to successfully provide the structure and and features of mechatronics. On the other hand, ap-
blueprint to be undertaken for the target technologi- plicant(s) will undergo standard recruitment process
cal advancement. Various processes/levels such as similar to other engineering disciplines in accordance
acquisition, adoption, assimilation, application, de- with the BulSU Admission Office’s guidelines and
velopment and diffusion were gone through to policies.
achieve full understanding on the necessary technol- 2) Step by Step Integrative Approach: Due to
ogy transfer activities. Strategic alliances and complexity of this multi-disciplinary engineering
mechanisms such as research and development, mar- course, step by step knowledge integrations were
keting and services, and general purpose tie ups were applied in the laboratory sessions to enhance the
REM2009, Glasgow, UK

depth while preserving the width of knowledge on C. Challenging Issues

the essentials elements of mechatronics and to rein-
Since high level of dynamism in multi-lateral aspects
force the theoretical knowledge gain in the regular
is very crucial in the rapid advancement of mecha-
lecture sessions. The laboratory exercises were ar-
tronics education, the strategic management of the
ranged from easy to difficult to facilitate better un-
following will dictate the success of vital institutions
derstanding of the fundamental theories required to
systems integration.
• Top and middle management perception, atti-
3) Concurrent Engineering Approach: Communi-
tude, and commitment.
cation, coordination, and cooperation among faculty
• Continuous capability development
having different backgrounds provides the key in
• Organizational development
harmonizing the department and blending their capa-
• Industrial linkage development
bility towards the synchronized attainment of the set
If not handled properly, lack of technical expertise
goals and objectives. This scheme was made to be
to support the integration challenge, inflexible organ-
pronounced and replicated among the students as
izational structure, misaligned organizational learn-
model for their future groups/teams.
ing capabilities, highly bureaucratic functional struc-
4) Goal Oriented and Supportive Management
tures, etc. will posed barriers depriving the full bene-
Approach: Goal-oriented and supportive manage-
fits of mechatronics engineering/technology, and
ment styles were deliberately applied to ensure that
hampering the attainment of succeeding goals and
the lines of communications within the department
future directives.
are clear. This approach provides the idea on which
area(s) in the department is performing below the D. Future Directives
expected level during the transformation stage so that
appropriate remedy could be done immediately. The roadmap of BulSU Mechatronics Engineering
Likewise, free flow of information provides insights leads forward to the realization of the following:
on how the department’s vision can imaginatively, • The design and/or development of our own in-
strategically and procedurally achieved. dustrial components such as PLC,VFD, etc.;
complex and/or intelligent systems such as
CIM, FMS, Robotics, etc.; and technology.
IV CONCLUSIONS • The establishment of a national integrated cen-
ter for advanced engineering/technical train-
A. Characteristics of BulSU Mechatronics ings and competency development for aca-
deme and industry.
Mechatronics engineering and technology education • The establishment of a national integrated cen-
at BulSU was characterized by high level of dyna- ter for advanced engineering research and de-
mism both in technical and human resources, and a velopment which include areas such as energy
goal-oriented as well as open-ended discipline for and environment, biogenetics and biomedical
convergence and divergence in order to respond applications, mechatronics and robotics devel-
quickly to the needs of the regions and the demands opments (micro- and nano-electro-mechanical
of global standards. systems (mems/nems)), manufacturing solu-
Project – based scheme with high degree of prac- tions, transportation applications, xerography,
tical applications was encouraged to reckon the real military/defense systems, automotive, agricul-
world problems and complex tasks present in most ture


The BulSU Mechatronics Engineering and its nurtur-
ing department had already attained its target ad- The development of Mechatronics Engineering pro-
vancements, more than what is expected, during its gram greatly benefited from the strong determination
transformation period [2003-2007]. and tremendous support of Dr. Rosario Pimentel, the
Strong industrial impression has already been es- 1st President of BulSU. Likewise, the authors salute
tablished through cooperation and linkage with local the BulSU Board of Reagents and the college dean
industries. These resulted further to the establishment for their trusts and confidence on the capability of
of Bachelor in Industrial Technology and Bachelor of individuals involved in the MEE – ART Transforma-
Science major in Mechatronics Technology [BIT- tion Project 2003 – 2007 in developing this pioneer-
MET and BSIT-MET] to handle special projects and ing program. Moreover, the continuing support and
partnership with the local industries. commitment from the current university president,
Dr. Mariano C. de Jesus, and college dean is highly
REM2009, Glasgow, UK

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