Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and New York Air Brake (NYAB), a sister Knorr-Bremse company, have created the Knorr-Bremse North America Mechatronics Laboratory at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

The laboratory is located at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering in Rochester, NY and will open this fall, serving both RIT students and engineers from Bendix and New York Air Brake.

Bendix develops and manufactures leading-edge active safety and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, while NYAB focuses on braking systems and technologies for the rail industry.

Bendix and NYAB have had a long relationship with RIT and helped develop its Mechatronics Engineering Certificate Program, which allows engineers in the mechanical and engineering disciplines to become stronger contributors to multi-disciplinary design teams. Mechatronics is considered the intersection of electrical and mechanical engineering and is a critical component in advancing many commercial vehicle and rail safety technologies.

“Cross-competence and collaboration are absolutely crucial to our teams’ work at Bendix, and at NYAB as well,” said Richard Beyer, Bendix vice president of engineering and R&D. “Mechatronics projects require that approach, and we know that RIT also places a high value on cross-disciplinary work between its electrical and mechanical engineering programs. This laboratory emphasizes the importance of that philosophy in a valuable, real-world setting.”

The nearly 1,000-square-foot laboratory is located adjacent to the main lobby in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering building on the RIT campus. Inside are five equipment stations that use fully-functional Bendix and NYAB technology to provide hands-on experience covering key aspects of the mechatronics curriculum, such as vibration, pneumatic controls, and valve control software. The stations and lab work are designed to expose participants to a full range of mechatronics equipment and situations, from pure mechanics to pure electronics.

In addition to opportunities for challenging co-op assignments at Bendix and NYAB facilities across North America, the organizations have in place a selective Engineering Development Program (EDP) to ensure their engineers remain at the forefront of technology development. Aimed at new engineering graduates with undergraduate or advanced degrees, the EDP program – a blend of practical experience, career mentoring, and more – enables the participants to make an immediate contribution while fostering their professional development and advancement. Bendix and NYAB also incorporate a rigorous Technical Skills Enhancement (TSE) program available to their engineering corps, which features RIT’s mechatronics curriculum as a part of the diverse training offerings. Employees seeking mechatronics certification in these programs complete most of their coursework and lab simulation work online, then visit the KBNA Mechatronics Laboratory for an immersion week to put their learning to the test in a practical environment.

The lab will similarly serve RIT’s mechanical and electrical engineering students pursuing certification in mechatronics. Bendix and NYAB are working with RIT to develop elective mechanical and electrical engineering courses that can also make use of the laboratory resources. The KBNA Mechatronics Laboratory is expected to open in October for RIT students, and the first round of Knorr-Bremse North America employees will make use of the facility in January 2015.