Mechatronics involves the synergistic integration of Mechanical Engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacture of industrial products and processes.
In UVA's Mechatronics Lab, students fuse theory and practice, bringing together principles of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. Here students learn how to integrate microcontrollers, sensors, and smart actuators when designing state-of-the-art mechanisms. The recent drop in cost of embedded computer technology has revolutionized the way that modern products are developed and manufactured. The Mechatronics Lab ensures that UVA's engineering students are prepared to succeed on the cutting edge of technology. For example, our current experiments teach students how to program a microcontroller chip that houses eight, parallel, 32-bit processors, is capable of executing 200 million instructions every second, and only costs about four dollars. When students learn to incorporate this type of intelligence into their machines, their devices come alive and are able to automatically adapt to changes in their environment, that is, they read data from sensors, think about it, and then decide how to move their actuators to react to any changes. In this lab, students are also introduced to basic circuit components and measurement tools such as breadboards, oscilloscopes, function generators, and digital multi-meters. Students working on projects for their senior thesis work, capstone design courses, ASME, Baja car, Hoos Flying, and countless other creative outlets offered through the University, frequently use the resources of this lab to help bring their inventions to life.