Open house feature: Mechatronics motivates grad
This weekend’s open house at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus will highlight more than 60 university programs – including one that has opened doors for Sunny Sandhu.
This fall, the 22-year-old Surrey resident will be among the first class of graduates from the popular Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) program, which melds various aspects of engineering – mechanical, electrical and software – opening wide-ranging possibilities for students in the field.
Sandhu expects the program’s exhibits – from first-year students’ sumo-wrestling robots, to MSE’s so-called car “shaker” technology – will be popular draws at Saturday’s event.
He recalls his own early motivation for figuring out how things work. “I’ve always been keenly interested in taking things apart and putting them back together,” says Sandhu, whose family moved to Surrey from Bahrain when he was six. His father, a tradesman, inspired his inquisitive nature and instilled a desire to pursue his interest in the field.
During the intensive four-year program Sandhu did three co-op terms, including two research stints in SFU labs and a third term overseas in Budapest, Hungary, where he worked at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics to develop hockey-playing robotic systems. “It sounds like a fun project, but this has many applications, including the control and coordination of unmanned vehicles,” he explains.
Sandhu and a team of classmates are keenly involved in MSE’s quarter car shaker project, which harvests energy from the car’s own suspension system to power itself. The SFU team is working with Maple Ridge’s Future Vehicle Technologies to refine the system (both the system and their car of the future, called eVaro, will be among displays at Saturday’s open house).
Sandhu found his strengths to be the electrical and mechanical aspects of engineering (“I’m not the best at the computing aspect of mechatronics, so I tend to stay away from it,” he admits). He hopes to eventually create a startup business and work as a consultant.
“It’s a diverse field, and the program has given me a broad understanding of it, “ adds Sandhu, who’ll be one of about 25 first grads of MSE in October.