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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MECH2200 Sensors, Actuators and Mechanisms

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Mr Roger Berry

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

In our everyday life we interact with mechanisms, actuators and sensors and in many instances all three elements must come together to create an interactive control system. From the simple automated door at a local supermarket or the home shower unit, through to complex systems such as ABS in your car or the flight control systems od a modern aircraft. Lives may depend on the decisions our engineers make when creating such systems and therefore an understanding of the types, characteristics and integration of such devices is paramount to the suite of engineering skills that our students should be armed with when they enter the professional world of engineering. This course attempts to broaden their knowledge and their practical experience of the most commonly used devices so that they have the foundations from which to grow from and to enable our students to communicate knowledgeably and intelligently about this significant aspect of Engineering.


To raise the students awareness, knowledge and practical experience of mechanisms, actuators and sensors. Students will be exposed to these industrial elements via a series of lectures, workshops and labs.
In Mechanisms students will learn to critically assess mechanisms and then apply this learning to solve practical mechanical problems which require the making of functional mechanisms which will challenge and develop their problem solving, material analysis, material application and manipulation, building skills, time management and communication skills.
In Actuators students will learn about hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical actuation. Students will learn the industrial symbology of actuator elements and their associated functionality within an integrated system. The students will be able to explore, create, solve and analyse process oriented problems using one, some or all of the actuator forms learned in the teaching sessions. Students will also experience a broad range of mechanical switch technologies from a physical and practical perspective.
In Sensors students will learn about devices associated with temperature, light, proximity (infrared, ultrasonic and magnetic) and specialist semiconductor sensors associated with audio, vibration acceleration and gyros. Students will learn the basic theory and transfer characteristics of these devices and the signal conditioning required to interface such devices to microcontrollers. The students will be introduced to, and develop, the C code required to extract meaningful data from such devices.

Learning outcomes
After successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Apply the knowledge learned to identify a series of practical solutions to a given mechanical problem. (EP4i) (G1)
2. Critically assess a mechanical solution from the perspective of functionality, performance, materials selection, longevity, cost and practicality. (EA2i)
3. Apply their enhanced construction and communication skills. (EP2i)
4. Analyse a simple industrial process control flow diagram and identify many of the component parts from which they could assess its functionality. (EA2i)
5. Apply practical knowledge on the use of industrial automation simulation software. (EP5i)
6. Select appropriate switching devices for a multitude of applications with a complete understanding of their operation, connectivity and characteristics. (EP4i) (G1)
7. Critically evaluate a sensor problem and determine the type of sensor or sensors required. (EP2i)
8. Perform an internet search to source multiple devices for given actuator/sensor types and determine their interface requirements and critically evaluate the sourced parts for suitability to the application from the perspective of functionality, precision, limitations, cost, environmental conditions and system integration. (EP4i) (G1)
9. Suggest and implement forms of signal conditioning, when required, on the selected parts (EA4i)
10. Interface the devices with a microcontroller and either activate or extract their fundamental data (EA4i)
11. Suggest/develop test environments to perform component analysis, calibration and testing. (EA2i)
12. Exercise personal responsibility, which may be as a team member. (G4i)

Skills outcomes
The creative use of limited material resources to solve mechanical problems based on the understanding of materials, mechanisms and components.
Knowledge and practical experience in the theory, industrial symbology, simulation, application and stimulation methods for a diverse range of actuation devices based on hydraulics, pneumatics and electrical systems.
To source and critically evaluate component data sheets from multiple perspectives.
Awareness and practical integration of different types of mechanisms, actuators and sensors commonly used in industry.
Practical experience in the signal conditioning and integration of semiconductor sensors into embedded control systems using the ā€˜Cā€™ programming language.
To understand, critically evaluate and develop test regimes that determine if a product meets the design specification.
Communication and collaboration with industrial engineers from a position of having had practical, applied experience of sensors, actuators and mechanisms.


- Introduction to the module
- Linear mechanisms (springs, levers, links and pulleys)
- Rotational mechanisms (universal joints, gears and cams)
- Energy storage and controlled release Mechanisms (windup, gravity and air)
- Workshop project 1
- Workshop project 2
- Workshop project 3
- Actuator symbology, types and functionality
- Lab based learning using physical components
- Lab based learning using PC simulation tool
- Sensors types and their transfer characteristics
- Sensors and their environmental characteristics
- Sensor signal conditioning
- Sensor integration into embedded systems
- Designing sensor integration software using the 'C' programming language
- Extracting and displaying sensor parameters

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment10.330.33
Class tests, exams and assessment11.001.00
Class tests, exams and assessment22.004.00
Private study hours152.67
Total Contact hours47.33
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be given a group project (2 students per group) from week 17 to 21 for presentation and assessment in week 22

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

An online discussion board will be monitored during specified times each week, plus feedback during synchronous sessions

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group Project2 students per group40.00
In-course MCQClass test semester 130.00
AssignmentVirtual assignment20.00
AssignmentVirtual assignment10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:23:29


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