Who is the “TAF-Computational Mechatronics” intended for?

The TAF Computational Mechatronics is dedicated to students interested in the aspects of computer modeling-based engineering, including computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and physicists. Therefore, a Bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering, computer science, or mathematics, and a strong interest in solving engineering problems will be a good basis for the Master Program Computational Engineering with TAF Computational Mechatronics.


What is “TAF-Computational Mechatronics” about?

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field which combines mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. The aim of mechatronics is to design systems, devices, and products with optimal overall performance by integrating the modeling and simulation of entire multi-field systems. From the combination of the different fields, synergy can be obtained if accurate investigations are carried out early in the development phase. Coupled numerical simulations represent one of the most efficient ways to achieve an optimal design of multidisciplinary systems.

In many industrial processes, systems which combine several physical phenomena have always been present. For example, in the case of an electrodynamic loudspeaker, the interaction of electromagnetic, mechanical and acoustic fields is integral to the performance of the final product. Until recently, isolated simulation of each of these physical fields provided an effective option for optimization. But, high market competition between such optimized systems has driven efficient solutions to the limits of current methodologies. This evolution has resulted in advanced and complex systems which require a faster and more accurate design process to fulfill current demands. Therefore, in many real-world applications the interaction of the different physical phenomena can no longer be neglected and must be taken into account. The development of a new technical system is more and more performed by system-level, multi-field, precise numerical simulations in order to optimize the system well before an initial prototype is fabricated. Typical examples of real world applications are:

  • Design of electrodynamic loudspeakers
  • Design of electromagnetic and piezoelectric drives
  • New injection actuators for common-rail diesel engines
  • Noise reduction of electric power transformers
  • Design of ultrasound array antennas for medical imaging and therapy
  • Design of SAW-filters for mobile phones
  • Design of micro-machined CMOS microphones

The TAF Computational Mechatronics aims to combine the three requisite disciplines: engineering, computer science and mathematics.

With the TAF Computational Mechatronics, students will be provided with the necessary knowledge to start a successful career in the field of CAE (Computer Aided Engineering), either with academic research, or in industry, including: automotive, power generation, medical engineering, and many others.

How is the program designed, what will be taught?

The two main courses, which interweave physics with mathematics and computer science, are CAE of
Sensors and Actuators and Numerical Simulation of Electromechanical Transducers

  1. CAE of Sensors and Actuators
    This lecture introduces numerical calculation schemes for computer simulation of electromechanical sensors and actuators using practical examples. In a first step, the basic concepts of the finite element method will be explained. The main emphasis will be the physical modeling of electromagnetic, mechanical, acoustic and thermal fields.
    In the exercises, students will learn step by step all the necessary tasks for successfullyperforming numerical simulations of electromechanical sensors and actuators.
  2. Numerical Simulation of Electromechanical Transducers
    This lecture presents the current state of numerical simulation for coupled field problems, building on the basics from the previous course. These methods are used in the modern design process of mechatronic sensors and actuators. The main topics will concern the efficient numerical treatment of coupled field problems, including the difficulties of nonlinearity. For numerical discretization we will use the finite element (FE) method. Through exercises, students will be trained in the correct simulation of industrial sensors and actuators.

The goal is to impart knowledge of the physical fields, skills in numerical simulation both in using commercial programs as well in the development of own numerical simulation package, and in the functionality of modern mechatronic systems.

The master thesis will have a strong connection to an actual research or industrial project currently being investigated at the Department of Sensor Technology.

Some selected topics for master theses:

  • Finite Element Simulation of Plate and Shell Structures
  • Simulation of Flow Induced Noise
  • Measurement of Flow Induced Noise – Design of an Aeroacoustic Wind Tunnel
  • Numerical Simulation of Load-Controlled Vibrations and Noise of Electric
  • Power Transformers
  • Numerical Simulation of Fluid-Structure Interactions
  • Numerical Simulation of the Biomechanical Behaviour of Human Tissue

What prior knowledge is required to enroll in this TAF?

Because mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field, previous knowledge in several fields is required. Concerning the physical phenomena involved, background in standard mechanical engineering subjects such as mechanics of materials, strain and stress analysis and understanding of the physical meaning of mechanical quantities is required. Additionally, previous knowledge of the fundamentals of electric and magnetic fields is a requirement (basics of Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic properties, etc.). Some background in acoustic and piezoelectric fields is also of advantage.

Regarding the numerical approach used to tackle our problems, some previous understanding of the FE method is desired. However, this field will be further enhanced in the initial lectures of the master program.
Another building block for the simulation of mechatronic systems is the mathematics behind the numerical methods applied. The student should have some knowledge of partial differential equations. The numerical discretization of partial differential equations is a co-requisite and will be imparted in a corresponding lecture.
The courses offered in the TAF Computational Mechatronics will enable students to analyze and optimize many complex problems in which the coupling of the different physical fields and some of their nonlinear effects must be considered.

The guide book will be Numerical Simulation of Mechatronic Sensors and Actuators, M. Kaltenbacher, Springer Verlag, 2004, and can be consulted in advance for further orientation on this TAF.

There is a course called Mechatronics held during the orientation semester, where basic knowledge in electric circuit theory, electromagnetic, mechanical and acoustic fields as well as physical effects are taught.

What research is done in Erlangen?

The Department of Sensor Technology was founded in 1999, belonging to the Institute of Electrical Engineering. The main research topic is the development of new mechatronic sensors, actuators and sensor-actuators systems. The central research topic is the development of efficient numerical schemes for the design and optimization process.
Research is performed on the following topics:

1. Electrostatic sensors and actuators:


  • Capacitive acceleration sensor (airbag sensor)
  • CMOS microphone (mobile phones)
  • Micro-machined gyro sensor (stability control of automobiles)
  • Ultrasound array antennas (medical diagnostics)

2. Piezoelectric sensors and actuators:


  • Ultrasound transducers (non-destructive testing, imaging)
  • Surface acoustic wave devices (television, mobile phones)
  • Bimorph actuators (video recorder)
  • High intensity ultrasound sources (cancer treatment)

3. Magnetomechanic sensors and actuators:


  • Loudspeaker (e.g., in a car)
  • Acoustic shock wave sources (lithotripsy)
  • Angular sensor (automotive application)
  • Electromagnetic acoustic transducer (non-destructive testing)

4. Acoustic / Solid Interactions:


  • Acoustic shields (environment)
  • Loudspeaker enclosure (Hi-Fi applications)
  • Sound emission of diesel engines (automotive industry)
  • Flow induced noise (automotive industry)

For some detailed description of research projects see our website.

TAF Adviser

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Philipp Beckerle

Department of Electrical-Electronic-Communication Engineering
Chair of Autonomous Systems and Mechatronics