HAMLET — Two engineering students who graduated last Saturday from Richmond Community College are leaving their mark on the Mechatronics Engineering program. Ian Lewis of Ellerbe and Thomas Bittle of Rockingham have spent the past year building an Autonomous Guided Vehicle that will serve as a dynamic trainer for future classes.
Two years ago, RichmondCC’s Engineering Department decided to create a trainer for Mechatronics students that would provide instrumental practice with real-time application in four major areas of study: digital/analog electronics, microcontrollers/microprocessors, programmable logic controllers, automation and system integration. To accomplish this, Engineering Department Chair Amir Niczad said they chose to design a vehicle that guides itself.
“This trainer will be a valuable tool to teach different facets of the Mechatronics Engineering subjects,” Niczad said. “Mechatronics is a two-year associate degree program that combines electronics, mechanical and manufacturing automation skills into a unique, powerful and very demanding field of study.”
“Several 2017 graduates helped assemble the platform. However, because of the shortage of time, we were not able to finish the project,” Niczad said. “Ian and Thomas took over where the 2017 graduates left off and completed the design.”
Bittle was responsible for interfacing the sensors, servo motors, drivers, relays, power supply, plc, HMI, and FPGA (field-programmable gate array). Lewis designed and implemented the line follower circuit. He also integrated the Arduino controller to the sensors and servo motor. Both Ian and Thomas used their programming skills to write complex codes to control the AGV.
“This is an ongoing project, so students next year will be adding the 68HC11 Controller and a laser guidance system to the AGV,” Niczad said. “I’m really proud of these guys. The work they put into taking a new concept for this program and turning it into a reality is inspiring.”
Bittle is an electrical technician for ITG-Burlington. He now has an Associate in Electronics Engineering and an Associate in Mechanical Engineering from RichmondCC.
Lewis earned an Associate in Computer Engineering from RichmondCC, and he will receive his high school diploma from Richmond Early College High School (REaCH) on Friday. Ian currently works for ComputerZone.