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As an engineering discipline, Mechatronics is the synergistic combination of mechanical, electronic, control and computer engineering. The key factor is the integration of these areas during the design process.
The Mechatronic Control Engineering (MCE) specialisation covers the fundamental scientific principles and technologies used in the design of modern computer-controlled machines and processes, and it puts special focus on the synergies in the design process.
Today, the technical background necessary for a mechatronic engineer to design an automated machine, component, or process is very different from that of 30 years ago.
The underlying difference is the availability of embedded computers used to control such machines. Where much functionality earlier on was placed in mechanics, using complicated linkages and cams to coordinate motion, today functionality has shifted to electronics, controlling small actuators, e.g. a car engine which today is packed with electronic control features.
Optimal design of these new multi-disciplinary systems not only requires from the mechatronic engineer that he or she needs to have knowledge of proper mechanical design principles, but also embedded computer control hardware and software sensors in order to measure variables of interests and actuation technologies.
You will study topics like
- How can we design and control wind turbine systems?
- How can we develop and control wave energy systems?
- How can we develop mechatronics and mechatronic systems, e.g. robots and Segways?
- How is it possible to control all types of advanced energy systems?
Mechatronic Control Engineering is a specialisation in the MSc programme Energy Engeneering.
Job and career
Mechatronic Control engineers have a wide range of job opportunities. The gained knowledge enables MSc graduates to work in project engineering, research, development and management in Danish and international industries or public institutions.
Examples of possible employers:
- Sauer Danfoss in relation to control and development of hydraulic systems and components
- Vestas and Siemens Wind Power in relation to control, machines and hydraulic systems in wind turbines
- Wave energy industry
- Grundfos designing and controlling pumps
- Danfoss Drives for developing controllers
During the MSc programme in Mechatronic Control Engineering (MCE), you will study fundamental scientific principles and technologies used in the design of modern computer-controlled machines and processes. Mechatronics is the synergistic combination of mechanical, electronic, control and computer engineering enabling you to analyse, design a model, design and control all types of energy systems and advanced electro-mechanical products.
The teaching of programme is carried out in an innovative, dynamic and challenging environment through a combination of research-based courses, team-based project work and a high degree of interaction with industrial partners and energy supply companies. The companies take an active part in providing project proposals for the problem-oriented project work, guest lectures and visits to the companies.
The teaching is carried out in English because many international students are enrolled in the study programme.
Content of Study Programme
For students with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from Aalborg University the credit of the project work on this semester is 15 ECTS, whereas it is 10 ECTS (INTRO project) for students with a BSc degree from another university.
The project technical topics are the same, but students from another university have one extra course which includes theory of Problem Based Learning (PBL). This method is the primary teaching method used at Aalborg University, and it is applied in all projects. The documentation of the project work is also different:
Students with a BSc degree from Aalborg University should:
- Document the project work by a paper, a poster and a presentation at an internal conference (CES) together with an appendix report, all in English
Students with a BSc from another university should:
- Document the work by a project report written in English
1st Semester Project for Students with a BSc from Aalborg University: Control of Hydraulic Actuated Mechanical System
On this semester, focus is on a hydraulically actuated mechanical system. The system is to be controlled as a feedback system. The mechanical structures and the actuation systems are to be modelled. System identification methods may be used for finding the model for critical parts where no component or system information is available. The models, or parts hereof, are to be experimentally verified to show the validity of the models.
Next, control algorithms must be developed based on the derived models and use of different non-linear control methods. These algorithms are to be implemented and verified experimentally, and the results should be compared to what may be obtained with standard linear controllers.
- Design of high performance hydraulic system to a race car
- Multi-axis control of a HMF crane using SMISMO valves
1st Semester INTRO Project for Students with a BSc degree from Another University than Aalborg University: Problem-based Project-organized Learning in Control of Hydraulic Actuated Mechanical Structure
The purpose of this semester is to give the students a comprehension of the problem-based learning method (PBL) as applied at Aalborg University. Focus is to give the students experience in carrying out project work in connection with problems in the subject area of Mechatronic Control Engineering. The students will write a project report documenting their project work. Knowledge will be given to students of subjects areas related to their chosen specialisation. The technical problem for this semester is related to a hydraulically actuated mechanical system, which is to be controlled as a feedback system. The mechanical structures and the actuation systems are to be modelled, and system identification methods can be used for finding the model for critical parts where no component or system information is available. Next, control algorithms must be developed based on the derived models and utilising different non-linear control methods. These algorithms should be implemented and verified experimentally and the results should be compared to what may be obtained with standard linear controllers.
The assessment of the INTRO semester project is a stop-test. It is a precondition that this project is passed to be able to continue on the 2nd semester of the MSc study.
- Design of controllers for hydraulic servo robot
- Separate meter-in separate meter-out control of excavator arm
2nd Semester: Advanced Control of Electrical Machines
2nd semester projects study a given motor used to drive a mechanical load. To control this motor, a frequency converter is to be used. The latter must be developed in the project, including designing the power stage of the frequency converter, and an interface-board between the power stage and a DSP-system. Related to this, modulation strategies and modes of operation for the converter are to be analysed as basis for the control strategy of the converter. Based on the developed frequency converter, one or more vector control strategies for the motor must be developed, enabling the motor to operate within pre-specified demands for the system. The frequency converter is to be built in the laboratory, and developed control strategies must be implemented, tested and compared to standard scalar control.
- Modelling and control of electrically driven servo robot
- Design and control of "Segway human transporter"
3rd semester: Optimisation, Diagnosis and Control in Mechatronic Systems
The projects on the 3rd semester should be based upon a mechatronic system which is to be optimised, and/or to which a control- or diagnostic system is to be set up. Firstly, the system is to be modelled and different system identification methods may be applied to determine the parameters of the system. The system model is verified by simulations and data time series from either a real system or a laboratory set-up. Based on the model, the system is optimised and/or a control- or diagnostic system is set up to improve the performance of the system, either with regard to power output, energy efficiency, life time extraction, fault detections, etc. The system should be implemented and verified experimentally.
To practice scientific communication skills, the project result, or parts of it, must be published in an article written in English. This article is to be presented at an internal seminar (CES).
Courses are offered of which 10 ECTS are to be chosen. The courses may vary from year to year, depending on the number of students on the various specialisations and the on-going projects and research performed at the Department of Energy Technology. Courses from other universities might be used as electable courses. However, the following two courses are always available:
- Neural network and Fuzzy logic - 5 ECTS
- System identification and diagnosis 5 ECTS
- Development and control of a fuel cell system
- Design and control of an active suspension system for a road vehicle
- Observer based flux vector control of induction machines
4th Semester: Masters Thesis in Mechatronic Control Engineering
The Master's Thesis may study new subjects or be an extension of the project work of previous semesters. It will normally be carried out in collaboration with an industrial partner, e.g. in the area of hydraulic systems, electrical machines, fuel cell systems, wind turbines, wave energy systems or other mechatronic systems.
Alternatively, it may support one or more research projects at the Department of Energy Technology, or another research facility, assuming the character of research. Often, students write scientific papers reporting the work of their Master's Theses. As courses are not normally offered on this semester, the entire semester is dedicated to the thesis work.
Examples of Masters Theses:
- Load reduction in wind turbines using advanced pitch control development of control strategies for power take-off systems for wave energy converters
- Design and control of fast switching valve for pumping operation