Kingston native reflects on first-year Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering program

Posted on August 25, 2022


Stuart Logan grew up in Kingston and knew, perhaps instinctively, that he’d attend Queen’s.

“My mom went to Queen’s,” he says, “and my dad worked at Queen’s for a little while, so I think I was always gonna go to Queens!”

It was in his last year of high school, coincidentally at the same time when Queen’s Engineering launched its newest discipline, Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering (MRE), that a teacher in his high school suggested he consider applying to the program. Unlike most programs of Engineering at Queen’s, MRE is direct-entry, meaning the cohort does not share the entire first year curriculum with most Engineering students who select their discipline just prior to year two.

“We got to do a lot of the common first-year stuff that every engineering student needs to do,” he says, “but there were a few courses, like some chemistry courses and geology, we didn't have to do. They were replaced with more robotics and computer science focused courses, which I enjoyed a lot.”

Because “mechatronics” and “robotics” do not fall into common secondary school curricula, the first cohort of students in the program, according to Logan, was a diverse one.

“I had only ever taken two computer science classes in high school,” he says. “That was my entire background in terms of any robotics or computer science. But I think that was actually true for a lot of students in the mechatronics program. I feel the [professors] were expecting everyone to come in having been on robotics teams in high school and stuff like that, but I don't think most people were.”

When on-campus housing options seemed scarce last fall and a number of incoming first-year students found themselves waitlisted, Logan assumed he’d begin the fall term living at home. A last-minute invitation to live in a residence hall on west campus changed that. “I enjoyed residence,” he says, “and it was really funny because there was a lot of mechatronics people on west campus as well. I have no clue how that ended up being a thing.”

With one year complete, he is anticipating the challenges of year two. “In engineering each year you have to take an engineering design course,” he says, “and in our year-two course, they've already told us that we're going to be getting basically small RC cars and we're going to attach LIDAR to them and we'll be able to make them self-driving and they'll navigate a course all by themselves.”

As for incoming first-year students to the MRE programs second cohort, Logan offers this advice. “Enjoy it. I mean, first year can be pretty stressful, especially engineering and the courses and the workload, but I think mechatronics, especially in second semester and as you get more into it, you get to do a lot of really fun things that not every other engineering discipline gets to mess around with, so I think if you just look forward to that stuff, that'll be really good for you.”

 

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