Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering


Industrial and Agricultural Technology

First Advisor

D R. Raman


In this study, we examined influences, differences, meanings, and economics of mechatronic experiences in a first-year, fundamental technology course. Our first objective examined the primary and secondary influences of mechatronic experiences on student engagement. Using a systematic review methodology, we collected n=402 articles. Screened by title and abstract, we mapped six parent and 22 child codes to the remaining n=137 articles. From these, we appraised n=17 studies, assessing eight as high quality. Our synthesis included these n=8 articles, from which we identified five primary influences (Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Course Rigor, Learning Retention, and Gender) and two secondary influences (Accreditation and Ease-of-Implementation). In these influences, we found evidence that mechatronic experiences can increase student motivation, self-efficacy, and course rigor. Also, positive impacts on learning, gender diversity, accreditation efforts, and ease of course content implementation were identified.

Our second objective was to quantify differences in students’ motivational orientation and academic success in a mechatronic experience vs. a non-mechatronic experience. To this end, we developed, piloted, and deployed a mechatronic experience in a first-year technology course. Using a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent control vs. treatment design (n=84) we found no statistically significant difference in students’ motivational orientation – specifically value choices [F(6,77)=0.13, p=0.7224] and expectancy beliefs [F(6,77)=0.38, p=0.5408] – between mechatronic and non-mechatronic experiences. This is an encouraging outcome, as literature would indicate students’ motivation drops over the course of a semester and wane towards the end of a project. In contrast, statistically significant increases in project scores [F(5,78)=6.51, p=0.0127, d=0.48, d95%CI=0.00 to 0.98] and course grades [F(5,78)=7.76, p=0.0067, d=0.70, d95%CI=0.20 to 1.20] were observed in the mechatronic experience group (three and eight percentage points, respectively). However, when we analyzed the correlation between motivational orientation and academic success, we found no relationship. We concluded that students’ motivational orientation did not moderate differences in academic success, as others have indicated.

Our final objective was to quantify the costs and scalability of implementing our mechatronic experience. We found limited literature focusing on costs of such efforts, and therefore developed a novel costing method adapted from medical and early childhood education literature. We implemented this method using marginal (above baseline) time and cost ingredients that were collected during the development, pilot, and steady-state phases of the mechatronic experience. Our evaluation methods included descriptive statistics, Pareto analysis, and cost per capacity estimate analysis. For our 121-student effort, we found that the development, pilot, and steady-state phases cost just over $17.1k (~$12.4k for personnel and ~$4.7k for equipment), based on 2015 US$ and an enrollment capacity of 121 students. Total cost vs. capacity scaled at a factor of -0.64 (y = 3,121x-0.64, R2 = 0.99), which was within the 95% interval for personnel and capital observed in the chemical processing industry. Based on a four-year operational life and a range of 20 – 400 students per year, we estimated per seat total costs to range from $70 – $470, with our mechatronic experience coming in just under $150 per seat. The development phase cost, as well as the robot chassis and microcontroller capital cost were the primary cost terms for our mechatronic experience.

Copyright Owner

John R. Haughery



File Format


File Size

137 pages