You can always learn and improve through European cooperation

Interview with Horatiu Pilsan, Professor for Electronic and Computer Engineering at FH Vorarlberg

You already have a Mechatronics degree at FH Vorarlberg allowing students to learn about smart, connected products. Could you give us some information about FH Vorarlberg and this degree?

FH Vorarlberg is a small University of Applied Sciences with approx. 1600 Students in the areas of Engineering & Technology, Business Administration, Design, Social Work and Health. In the field of Engineering, Mechatronics is the oldest degree programme with which the institution was founded, even though the name was not changed to Mechatronics until 2002. What was born out of necessity, in an attempt to provide the broadest possible education for a relatively small region, has become a unique feature over time, pioneering this education in the broader region.

Thus, what is your interest in participating in the DigiDemo project?

On the one hand, we have to keep our study programme at the cutting edge of technology, because mechatronic systems are becoming more and more networked and the role of cloud and IoT is growing. On the other hand, we can also learn a lot in the narrower field of mechatronics by participating in the project, sharing our experience with colleagues, and getting ideas and impulses from them.

You are responsible for the demonstrator framework. What is it, and what is it used for?

Even before the project started, we, the international project team, realized that there were different ideas about what a demonstrator is. This resulted in the need to define the properties and characteristics of a demonstrator and to record what information must be included in a description. We summarized this in the framework and validated it using a first prototype as an example. The suitability of subsequent demonstrators will be validated with the framework and they will be described according to it.

What is your first demonstrator, and how does it fit to the framework?

Our first demonstrator is the mechatronic setup used for the focus project (5th semester mechatronics bachelor). There is no doubt that it fits well into the framework, since it was described as a prototype in the framework. We have extended this setup and realized a cloud connection. This allows the students to learn which data to gather and how to analyse it in the cloud.