Mechatronics for smart household appliances


To educate specialists in mechatronics is the target of the Second-Level University Master in Mechatronics & Management – Mema, promoted by Liuc –Cattaneo University in collaboration with Whirlpool and other sector companies, addressed to young graduates in mechanical, industrial, physical, electronic, electrical, biomedical and automation engineering.

Lorenza Peschiera

It will be held from October 2013 to July 2014 the second edition of the Second Level University Master in Mechatronics & Management – Mema, promoted by Liuc –Cattaneo University in collaboration with Whirlpool and other sector companies. The Master addresses young graduates who have a master’s degree or an equivalent qualification in mechanical, industrial, physical, electronic, electrical, biomedical or automation engineering, willing to widen their competences and to acquire knowledge in a driving sector such as mechatronics today.

Mauro Piloni, Whirlpool R&D president and Global Advanced Development vice-president.

“Main target of the Master is to give a concrete answer to automation companies that search for a specific technical education for the sector, coupled with managerial competences and behavioural skills”, explains Elena Tosca, Coordinator of the Master in Mechatronics & Management. “For this reason programmes themselves have been drawn up together with companies in order to create the best alignment.  This educational proposal is unique in the present university survey, both in terms of structuring and of content organization. On one hand, the matching of methodological aspects with practical and concrete applications, submitted by companies themselves, on the other hand the mix of technical and managerial education allow transferring high added value contents and contributing in the establishment of a complete professional profile”. The Master, to which you gain access after passing an admission interview, requires full time attending to participants, providing for about 400 hours in classroom, by the home of Liuc, at Castellanza (Va) and 720 hours of stage, to be spent at leader companies of the automation sector, to implement a project work.  The core of the course is composed by the following modules: technicality for the automation sector; sale and marketing competences; management and human resource management concepts; problem solving & decision making and management of change processes. Teachers are partly academics and partly professionals operating in companies that will be able to give great concreteness to the themes treated. The participants of the Master are also given the opportunity of attending in-depth courses of English language and of taking the examination to obtain the Business English Certification (BEC).

Paolo Crosta, manager of Whirlpool washing innovation.

The importance of partners
An important role, concerning the Master, is also played by partner companies, not only from the economic support point of view. “Besides the economic contributions paid, partner companies hold a primary role in the Master ambit, both in the phase of the selection of suitable candidates and in the course of the classroom phase, during which accredited and acknowledged professionals of the automation sector carry out teaching activities, presenting their realities and putting at disposal of all participants their knowledge and competences”, explains Elena Tosca. “The further contribution provided by these companies is in the stage phase, time in which candidates will have the opportunity of knowing in-depth the corporate environment business and will become acquainted with the peculiarities of each context, thanks to the guide of experienced and skilled personnel. In the 2013-2014 edition we can boast partners that already accompanied us in the first edition, such as Fameccanica Data, Festo and Loccioni and new enterprises, like D’Andrea, IMS Deltamatic, Kuka Roboter, Schaeffler and Whirlpool, which have come aboard recently but are willing to make available all of their know how for our students”. Paolo Crosta, manager of Whirlpool washing innovation, explains the reasons for the involvement of Whirlpool: “At Whirlpool mechatronics has become a core discipline, a distinguishing factor of our products, resulting therefore in a competitive advantage. Today mechatronics and automatic controls are a fundamental heritage of knowledge for our engineers called to develop forefront products that meet in more and more punctual way users’ requirements. Having succeeded, for instance, in measuring the load quantity and in determining the optimal quality of detergent for washing with a virtual sensoring system has resulted in an advantage for end users, who purchase a product with higher performances without that increase of costs that a real weighing device would generate ».

Mechatronics finds application, in particular, in the sector of washing machines, where the need of controlling the forces generated during the spin-drying cycle calls for surgical precision in measuring signals and in promptly reacting to dampen them. Thanks to the integrated approach, exactly mechatronic, washing machines not only assure a linen always “squeezed” at the right point under all use conditions, but they also reduce vibrations and noises produced in the spin-drying phase. Mechatronics is applied by Whirlpool on all household appliances, as explained by Mauro Piloni, Whirlpool R&D president and Global Advanced Development vice-president of the multinational: “Mechatronics and automated controls constitute, in fact, the backbone of our Sixth Sense, the technology that allows household appliances to read with sensors the necessary information and to adapt the behaviour according to the best performances, both for cooking and for the food preservation with the minimum use of resources. We deem mechatronis as strategic and this gives birth to our commitment to this Master realized by Liuc not only as sponsor, but also contributing with the experience of two of our best experts in the role of teachers, the engineers Gaetano Paviglianiti and Jurij Paderno”. In the second part of the master, starting from February 2014, Whirlpool will give hospitality to some participants for the canonical stage period. “In Italian Universities mechatronics has joined by full right teaching disciplines – reports Crosta -, but the most applicative phase, which only the equipped laboratory of a company can offer, is still lacking. We believe that this step is essential for the education of professionalisms that will be increasingly strategic in our industry”.

Headquartered at Castellanza (VA), LIUC – Cattaneo University was established in 1991 upon the initiative of the Industrialist Union of the Varese Province. The strong concentration of entrepreneurs in the territory and the will of giving birth to an important educational project are at the base of a concept of University able to match the needs of the work world and culture and academic knowledge Today the University, which maintains a relationship of strict collaboration with the world of enterprises and of professions, stands out for a strong international character. For a long time, besides the degree programs in Business Economics, Law and Managerial Engineering, they have started also first and second level University Masters that meet the need of a more intense specialization level.

Some moments of the 2012-2013 edition of the Second Level University Master in Mechatronics & Management – MEMA.