MURFREESBORO — MTSU senior Daniel Kiviniemi enjoyed showing off his other workplace space when the Precision Metalforming Association’s Tennessee district met recently on campus.
Kiviniemi works for Feintool Tennessee Inc., an Antioch, Tennessee-based company making parts through a special process for its customers. When not at Feintool, he is a student majoring in mechatronics in the MTSU Department of Engineering Technology.
Early on, Kiviniemi, who lives in Murfreesboro, majored in electromechanical engineering technology. But when mechatronics — a program that combines mechanical, computer and electrical engineering, systems integration and project management — became a reality in 2013, he was among the first to jump on board.
Kiviniemi and his fellow Precision Metalforming Association colleagues and a 40-member group from The Academy of Information Technology at Overton High School met March 19 in the Tom H. Jackson Building and toured the engineering technology facilities.
“I love it,” Kiviniemi said of the mechatronics program. “It’s definitely a lot of math. You learn a lot of skills you don’t learn anywhere else. As soon as mechatronics started, I switched.”
The program has grown to more than 120 students in its second year and engineering technology Chair Walter Boles anticipates nearly 200 by the time classes begin for the 2015-16 academic year in August.
Along with mechatronics director Ahad Nasab, Kiviniemi showed the program’s equipment to the veteran members of the association and to 35 Overton IT academy students who also were impressed.
“This was like my first exposure (to mechatronics),” said junior Noah Aldridge of Nashville. “It’s not that I’m skeptical, but it piqued my interest.” He added that he learned “how much MTSU cares for students” from the visit.
Junior Regan Holmberg of Nashville, who has older siblings who have attended and graduated from MTSU, found it “good to see how hands-on engineering technology is, how it works and how mechatronics works.”
“Mechatronics is something I’m interested in now and really like to be exposed to — how the technology part I’m familiar with can impact the mechanical part,” she added.
Precision Metalforming Association Tennessee district Chair Perry Hytken, who works in sales for Nashville-based Ace Machine and Metal Fabrication, said he found the tour and total experience “to be life-changing … for business groups and several of these students. I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see some of these students in mechatronics some day.”
The tour included the various classroom and shop areas, which include the MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program featuring the NASA Lunar Rover, solar boat, SAE Formula One and Mini Baja racing vehicle.
Saeed Foroudastan, associate dean for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, shared his passion for the program and how MTSU students learn through teamwork and hands-on experience. Dean Bud Fisher toured with the association members and their Overton guests.