UVa Mechatronics: State-of-the-Art Rapid Prototyping Lab

If creating models and mechanical devices constitutes a hands-on curriculum, UVA’s mechatronics projects could be called “hands- and minds-on” learning. Mechatronics combines mechanical, electronic, computer, software and control engineering with systems-design engineering to imagine and manufacture useful products.

Developing students’ design skills beyond the theoretical is critical as employers increasingly seek graduates with applied, tested skills. “3D CAD modeling and theoretical models are only part of the process — there must be a concrete application for the concepts students are learning,” said UVa lab design engineer, Dwight Dart. Emerging engineers must embrace the challenges involved in building functional parts — mating, press fits, tolerances and threading, for example.

To bring well prepared graduates into the business world, UVA has brought a real business into its curriculum. The school’s state-of-the-art prototyping lab resulted from a $2 million grant from Rolls Royce as part of the school’s partnership with the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). CCAM brings together best-in-class manufacturers and Virginia’s top higher-education institutions (University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University) to deliver new production-ready solutions to factories. “Our partners at Rolls Royce have praised UVA graduates for immediately understanding crucial design concepts and knowing how to fix design errors,” Dart said.  “The Stratasys 3D Printer is a huge part of how we teach students to build smart machines.”  Read more at Stratasys Web site.

Learn more about the University of Virginia Rapid Prototyping Services