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Course Catalog > Applied Science and Manufacturing in Aerospace

Mechanical Automation Systems Engineering  

3.5 Credits
Prerequisites: None, other than a strong interest in multi-disciplined mechanical and electrical/electronic systems


This course focuses on the mechanical principles of electromechanical automation (mechatronics) by having each student build a computer controlled milling machines (CNC) to learn how to apply these concepts. Our ultimate intent in our automation series of courses is to have students not only be proficient in the obvious electronic component of robotics but the mechanical fabrication process as well. With so many other electronic based robotic courses we offer, we wanted to show people the other side of the process, that in order to build your robot you'll also need some strong fabrication skills.

Nearly every part of these machines are designed in CATIA/Fusion 360 and milled on CNC machines in class. These are not kits and students will have an intimate understanding of all elements in this system. These skills can translate into many areas such as robotic technicians and maintenance, automation design, and tool fabrication.

NOTE - This course is built around learning how to build linear motion devices for any application and not just specifically how to build a CNC machine. It is also a course on manual fabrication, machining and assembly so there will be a great amount of time spent just fitting and assembling components. The majority of class days will be working at your own pace.

There are a few things that should be mentioned that this class is not or doesn't provide.
  • This course does not teach how to use 3d design software. Due to time constraints on class lengths this is not possible. This is why we have other courses specifically based on 3d design and machining.

  • A cutting spindle is not provided in the class. There are so many options available this is left up to the student to purchase.
    As with any project, there are many extra features you could purchase. We build the basic functioning device and students can then add on as much as they feel necessary.

  • Similarly, major modifications should be done after the course at home. Even adding small extra components will cause the class to run substantially longer.

  • There are no instructions. We do have CAD models, other machines to look at, and of course staff guidance, but understand that there is no step-by-step instruction manual on how to complete the task. We do all build the same machine (to some degree) and the parts used are already designed in CAD, but we want people to be able learn to fabricate parts based on the purpose and not just because the documentation says to do it a certain way.

  • The dimensions of the machine are set (About 50x60x20cm) . Much of the parts are purchased before class, but even beyond that, we don't have the room to have extraordinarily large machines in the shop.

  • Our shop is what we'd call a really nice garage shop. Multiple CNC machines, lathes, composite fabrication equipment and all the typical hand and power tools you'd imagine. What this isn't is a high end aerospace production facility with all brand new top of the line industrial tools. This is partially due to budget of course, but also we feel that learning skills you plan to use at home should be done on realistically comparable equipment. Also learning to adapt and make existing equipment work for you or fabricating your own is an important skill we believe is necessary.

We do realize that all of these specifics may not be what some people want so please be aware of all of this before registering.

Topics include:
Building the Machine
  • What is CNC and how to operate
  • Stepper motors
  • Breakout boards and controllers
  • Hardware drivers and motor control
  • Wiring
  • Various controller software (specifically open source)
  • Framework fabrication and assembly
  • Drive mechanics (Gearing, chain drives, cabling, etc)
  • Electrical systems (wiring, cable management, motor polarity)
  • Controller software configuration and calibration

Shop Skills and Tools
  • Basic CNC mill operation
  • De-burring parts
  • Sanding and Polishing various materials
  • Die Grinder
  • Drill Press
  • Hand Drills
  • Dremel Tools
  • Tapping Threads
  • Basic Measurement (Tape Measure, scale)
  • Metric Measurement and Conversions
  • Basic Precision Measuring Tools (Calipers, Micrometers)
  • Advanced Precision Measuring Tools (123 Blocks, Depths Gauge, Angle Measurement, Parallels)
  • Basic Mathematics (Addition, Subtraction, Fractions, Decimals)
  • Tolerance design for fit and function

* This is a very unique course that covers a broad range of skills so be prepared for several different areas of study. Computer hardware, electrical, mechanical motion, wood working, welding, software, 3D printing, 3D design and machining are all a potential part of this process of automation.

Student CNC Gallery
Click here to see the CNC machines students have been making:

Mailing List Signup - Get notified of upcoming classes!

To Register:
  • Click "add to cart
  • Create an account
  • Make payment online (Boeing people say PO or Check and write in "Boeing"
  • Complete the admission form below:

  • Admission Form
  • Call The BTC (425-640-1840) and give them the number of the class you wish to register for

Contact Damian Cianci at if you have any questions.

The Business Training Center of Edmonds Community College has been "off-campus" in the heart of the community providing practical industry focused education for over 17 years.


Mechanical Automation Systems Engineering  -- CLASS IS IN SESSION --
Item: M700  Credits: 3.50   BRENDON SEAVER
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM Location: WATR Center - Advanced Aerospace
Sessions: 20 M W 3008 100th ST SW Everett, WA 98204
1/27/2020 - 4/6/2020  
No Class on Feb 17

Mechanical Automation Systems Engineering  -- CLASS IS IN SESSION --
Item: M749  Credits: 3.50   BRENDON SEAVER
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM Location: WATR Center - Advanced Aerospace
Sessions: 20 M W 3008 100th ST SW Everett, WA 98204
2/3/2020 - 4/13/2020  
No Class on Feb 17

Mechanical Automation Systems Engineering  -- CLASS IS IN SESSION --
Item: M747  Credits: 3.50   BRENDON SEAVER
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Location: WATR Center - Advanced Aerospace
Sessions: 20 M W 3008 100th ST SW Everett, WA 98204
2/24/2020 - 5/4/2020  
No Class on Apr 22