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New Mechatronics Lab Established at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and New York Air Brake, working in conjunction with Rochester Institute of Technology, have created the Knorr-Bremse North America Mechatronics Laboratory at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.

The laboratory will open this fall and serve both RIT students and engineers from Bendix and New York Air Brake.

“Cross-competence and collaboration are absolutely crucial to our teams’ work at Bendix and at New York Air Brake as well,” said Richard Beyer, Bendix vice president of engineering and R&D. “Mechatronics projects require that approach, and we know that RIT also places a high value on cross-disciplinary work between its electrical and mechanical engineering programs. This laboratory emphasizes the importance of that philosophy in a valuable, real-world setting.”

Mechatronics is considered the intersection of electrical and mechanical engineering and is a critical component in advancing many commercial vehicle and rail safety technologies. The nearly 1,000-square-foot laboratory is adjacent to the main lobby of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Inside are five equipment stations that use fully-functional Bendix and New York Air Brake technology to provide hands-on experience covering key aspects of the mechatronics curriculum, such as vibration, pneumatic controls and valve control software.

Bendix and New York Air Brake enjoy a long-standing relationship with RIT and helped develop its Mechatronics Engineering Certificate Program, which allows engineers in the mechanical and engineering disciplines to become stronger contributors to multi-disciplinary design teams.

Both Bendix and New York Air Brake are members of the Knorr-Bremse Group, and together make up Knorr-Bremse North America. New York Air Brake is based in Watertown, N.Y. Bendix develops and manufactures leading-edge active safety and braking system technologies, while New York Air Brake focuses on braking systems and technologies for the rail industry. Based in Munich, Germany, Knorr-Bremse is a top manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles.

In addition to opportunities for challenging co-op assignments for RIT’s engineering students at Bendix and New York Air Brake facilities across North America, the organizations have in place a selective Engineering Development Program to ensure engineers from the two corporations remain at the forefront of technology development. The companies also incorporate a rigorous Technical Skills Enhancement program available to their engineering corps, which features RIT’s mechatronics curriculum. Employees seeking mechatronics certification in these programs complete most of their coursework and lab simulation work online, then visit the laboratory for an immersion week.

The lab will similarly serve RIT’s mechanical and electrical engineering students pursuing certification in mechatronics. The KBNA Mechatronics Laboratory is expected to open in October for RIT students, and the first round of Knorr-Bremse North America employees will make use of the facility in January 2015.

“Incorporating Knorr-Bremse North America-inspired, real-world learning experiences for mechanical and electrical engineering students will allow RIT to continue producing world-class engineers that make a world of difference to their employers and communities,” said Edward Hensel, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies at RIT.

Bendix and New York Air Brake are also working with RIT to build a curriculum in supply chain management skills within the institute’s industrial and systems engineering program, as well as to develop elective mechanical and electrical engineering courses that can also make use of the laboratory resources.

“We are incredibly proud of the ongoing collaboration and the robust exchange of ideas between Bendix, New York Air Brake, and the faculty and administration at RIT. That dialogue led to the concept and the curriculum, as well as the equipment design for this laboratory,” said Bill Kleftis, vice president of engineering at New York Air Brake.


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