In fall semester 2018, five students enrolled when the mechatronics program started at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Now there are 65 students.
“We’re hoping to get close to 100 this fall,” said Ahad Nasab, head of the Department of Engineering Management and Technology and creator of the mechatronics program.
Today, the program took a huge step into its future when it opened a new lab filled with equipment now being used in the manufacturing industry worldwide.
“We are going to show our students the exact technologies being used today and in the near future,” Nasab said.
Located on the second floor of the Engineering Math and Computer Science building, the lab is a bustling array of stainless-steel and metallic machines. Robotic arms lift tiny plastic pieces, swing around, then drop the pieces neatly into small, square boxes. Nearby machines are a production line that mimics the same job as bigger cousins in factories.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, UTC Chancellor Steve Angle described the lab as “incredible.”
“It makes me want to go back to school and figure out how to learn all these things,” he said.
The lab and the mechatronics program are giving students the knowledge they need to succeed after they graduate, he said.
“It’s important to our campus to put our students on the cutting edge, so they’re ready to go into the workforce with the skills the businesses want,” Angle said.
The mechatronics lab does that, Nasab said, because the same machines and processes are used across the manufacturing spectrum, from pharmaceuticals to cars, from cosmetics to airplanes.
“Any industry—cookies or cars—to us it’s all the same,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the machine does as long as you know how to control it.”