Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions per week, 1.5 hours per session

Labs: Self-scheduled


This course is an introduction to designing mechatronic systems, which require integration of the mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines within a unified framework. There are significant laboratory-based design experiences. Topics covered in the course include: Low-level interfacing of software with hardware; use of high-level graphical programming tools to implement real-time computation tasks; digital logic; analog interfacing and power amplifiers; measurement and sensing; electromagnetic and optical transducers; control of mechatronic systems.


We assume that you have taken a course in frequency-domain based control system design. Examples include:

Specifically, you need to be able to design control loops for performance and stability using concepts of loop shaping via lead / lag controllers. You should also know about root locus and Nyquist analyses.

We also assume that you have a basic familiarity with electronic circuits and operational amplifiers. Either of these courses:

Laboratory Assignments

The class will use LabVIEW—based control electronics, and it will be best if you have a running version of LabVIEW 2013 installed on Windows on your own laptop. We do not assume prior experience with LabVIEW, but you will need to learn it during the course. MIT students borrow an NI myRIO unit during the course.


We will occasionally use the scheduled lab sessions, but you will mostly work in the lab on a self-scheduled basis. If you are a registered student in the class, and once we set up the access list, your MIT card key should give you access to the lab. This freedom to use the facility also entails the responsibility to take good care of it. Please be sure the lab is locked when you leave it. Do not let others into the lab; registered students should be able to get in with their own MIT ID. Please let us know if something is wrong with any of the equipment, and be careful to leave the lab benches and equipment ready for the next person to use. When you leave, please be sure equipment other than the computers is powered off.


A pre-lab will be assigned in the week preceding the lab exercise. The pre-lab will help you to get prepared and make calculations and design choices for the laboratories. The pre-lab may also contain homework-like problems. The pre-lab is generally due in class one week after the lab assignment goes out. Late pre-labs will not be accepted. Please turn in a copy of your work to us, retaining the original, as you will generally need the pre-lab material for your lab experiments. Attach the original of your pre-lab to the back of the lab report, to be turned in at the lab check-off.

Lab Reports

Your lab report is due at a scheduled check-off with one of the teaching staff. This check-off consists of a 30 minute interview in which we will ask you to demonstrate your working lab experiments. Check-offs will be scheduled about a week in advance. Please come to the lab well in advance of your check-off to be sure that you have a properly functioning lab setup in order to be able to demonstrate your system, and make good use of the 30 minute time window. Lab check-offs will not generally be rescheduled other than in the event of an emergency or illness. Late lab reports will not be accepted.

Final Project

The final project will take place in the last 3.5 weeks of the semester. You can work in groups of 2–3 people for this project. The project will be of your own definition, although we have a number of example systems you can work with if desired. The final project will count the same as two labs, and will include a presentation to the class.

Every team will have 30 minutes, with 15 minutes presentation with slides and 15 minutes hardware demo, plus questions and answers. Please come early to prepare the hardware and rehearsal your talk to make sure it fits the time constraints.

Some suggestions for the slides: It will be good if you present the hardware overall design, major results, and any take-home message that you want to deliver in the first slide. It is a great way to catch the attention of your audience.


The grade of each lab is based upon the pre-lab (30%), check-off (35%), and lab report (35%) scores.

ACTIVITIES Percentages
Lab 0 12.5%
Lab 1 12.5%
Lab 2 12.5%
Lab 3 12.5%
Lab 4 12.5%
Lab 5 12.5%
Final Project 25%

Collaboration Policy

Collaboration in the form of discussion between students is permitted and encouraged in all aspects of the course. You can learn a great deal from the perspectives of others in the class. However, what you turn in for pre-lab, lab, and project reports must be your individual solution. The check-offs are one-on-one, and give you a chance to show us your own understanding of the material. If you make use of insights from another student, good scholarship entails citing their contribution in your report. We will think more highly of you if we see such assistance acknowledged.