Lawrence Technological University and the Thuringia Center for Innovation and Mobility, which is associated with Ilmenau University of Technology in Germany, have signed a three-year agreement to cooperate in the development of mechatronic vehicle systems and other innovative technologies for “green” mobility such as hybrid and electric ground vehicles.

The agreement was signed in Southfield by Lawrence Tech President Lewis Walker and Matthias Machnig, minister for economics for the central German state of Thuringia where Ilmenau University of Technology is located.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that incorporates aspects of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, computer engineering, software engineering, control engineering, and systems design engineering. Lawrence Tech’s master’s program in mechatronics, launched in 2006, concentrates on conventional and unmanned ground vehicle and industrial robot engineering.

The two institutions agreed to explore programs to benefit researchers, students and faculty in Germany and the United States, in keeping with their commitment to “mutual understanding for scientific and academic growth through transatlantic research activities and intercultural education.”

The cooperation will begin with a work plan developed by Professor Vladimir Vantsevich, the director of the Mechatronic Systems Laboratory at Lawrence Tech, and Professor Klaus Augsburg, the director of the Thuringia Innovation Center for Innovation and Mobility and vice provost of science at Ilmenau University of Technology. They have set the following goals for 2011-2013:

* Prepare proposals to create a transatlantic double master’s degree in autonomous ground vehicle engineering.
* Initiate bilateral research projects with the support of regional industry and the state development corporation of Thuringia.
* Submit a joint research paper to the SAE Congress.
* Contribute to planned books on ground vehicle engineering and robotics engineering.

This agreement continues collaborative research initiated four years ago between Lawrence Tech’s Mechatronic Systems Laboratory and the Department of Automotive Engineering at Ilmenau University of Technology when a German PhD student worked at Lawrence Tech for eight weeks in 2007.  Five research papers have been jointly published, and Augsburg and PhD students visited Lawrence Tech in 2010.

Vantsevich joined the Lawrence Tech faculty in 2001 after a nearly 20-year academic career in the eastern European country of Belarus, where he specialized in designing driveline systems and control devices.

A mechatronics engineer unites the principles of mechanics, electronics, and computing to generate a simpler, more economical and reliable system. The use of mechatronics in industry is much more widespread in Europe than in the United States, according to Vantsevich.

“We can gain much from working with German professors who are very familiar with the industrial applications of mechatronics. Lawrence Tech’s location at the center of the automotive industry in the United States should provide new opportunities for our German colleagues,” Vantsevich said.


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