Purdue University Calumet (PUC) in Northwest Indiana has recently approved a B.S. in Mechatronics Engineering Technology curriculum. PUC has partnered with the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) and the regional packaging industry in the development of the curriculum. Northwest Indiana and greater Chicagoland are home to over 30 packaging machinery manufacturers and many end users of packaging machinery. PMMI has more than 500 member companies that gross over six billion dollars annually (PMMI, 2008). In addition, the total packaging industry represents a $500 billion dollar market worldwide, of which, the United States accounts for 1/3 (Packaging Digest, 2008). PMMI has recognized that there is a dire need for engineering technologists with an understanding of packaging machinery and the necessary systems integration knowledge to design and implement complex packaging systems. Furthermore, the need for graduates of such a program is so strong that the regional packaging industry and companies from other industries have donated over $30,000 worth of new equipment and have committed to hiring 80 to 110 interns for this program over the next three years. Currently, there is no other four-year degree program available in the area of machine design and systems integration that addresses the needs of the packaging industry (Kowal, 2007).
The goals of this CCLI project are: 1) Implement the new curriculum by enhancing six existing courses in electrical and mechanical engineering technology; developing two new mechatronics engineering technology courses; and establishing one new mechatronics laboratory facility to provide hands-on experience in designing, controlling, and integrating packaging machinery systems, 2) Incorporate experiential learning in the curriculum so that the courses are beneficial, practical, and appealing to employers, industry, and students. The project goals will be accomplished through a triadic partnership among PUC, the packaging industry, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The proposal requests $149,697 from NSF for implementation of this project. Formative evaluation and summative evaluations will be performed at appropriate times for assessment of curricular materials, objectives, outcomes, student learning, experiential learning, and overall impact of the grant. The dissemination plan includes conferences, journals, industry trade shows, and industrial publications.