With kids returning to school, parents and academics alike are gravitating to the annual college ratings hitting the newsstands. One of note is the World University Rankings 2018, published by Times Higher Education, a spin-off of London’s The Times newspaper. It reviewed about 20,000 research-intensive universities around the world and ranks the best from 1 to 1,000—the top five are Oxford, Cambridge, Cal Tech, Stanford and MIT. Ratings are based on criteria like staff-to-student ratio, PhD percentage, published research, international scope and industry funding for R&D.
Granted, most of the institutions that made the grade do not focus on fluid power. But those that do fare surprisingly well, as numerous schools affiliated with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), the European CETOP association and major Asian fluid-power centers are on the list. These ten rated among the top 1% of all schools surveyed.
33. Georgia Tech. Houses labs for acoustics, biorobotics, computational hydrodynamics, fluids and intelligent machine dynamics. Work includes research on compact fluid-power systems for surgery and rehabilitation.
37. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Research focuses on the dynamics of mobile-hydraulic systems, and on human-scale devices like soft pneumatic actuators for orthosis devices.
56. University of Minnesota. The Fluid Power Controls Lab applies advanced control and mechatronic concepts to fluid-power systems in innovative ways, in human-friendly, transportation and renewable-energy applications.
60. Purdue University. The Maha Fluid Power Research Center conducts fundamental research on piston pumps and motors, and on control systems, acoustics, high-efficiency drives, and machine prognostics.
79. RTWH Aachen University, Germany. The Institute for Fluid Power Drives and Controls (IFAS) is widely recognized as a premier academic and research facility. It’s involved in all aspects of fluid power and areas like IT, servocontrols, tribology and environmentally friendly systems.
105. Vanderbilt University. Is developing power supplies for human-scale robots that outperform the best batteries and motors. CCEFP projects include Stirling thermocompressors, strain-energy accumulators and miniature medical devices.
133. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. A member of the prestigious TU9 German Institutes of Technology, specialties include futuristic mobile machinery as mechatronic systems, anthropomatics and robotics.
155. Technical University Dresden, Germany. The Institute of Fluid Power focuses on novel drive and control concepts for mobile and autonomous machines. And fluid-mechatronic work melds mechanical and electronic technologies with innovative hydraulic and pneumatic drives and controls.
177. Zhejiang University, China. Home to the State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power Transmission and Control; National Engineering Research Center of Electrohydraulic Control; and the Institute for Mechatronic Control Engineering.
190. Aalto University, Finland. Mechatronics-focused education integrates hydraulics, pneumatics and control systems with mechanical, electrical, telecommunications and computer engineering for industrial and mobile machines.
Note that the rankings exclude many entities because they specialize in just one core area or don’t offer doctorate degrees. So by default places like the Milwaukee School of Engineering, one of the top U.S. fluid-power institutions, aren’t on the list.
The authors say that in general, American and European ratings have dropped in recent years at the expense of Asian universities. Nonetheless, the 2018 numbers offer a nice endorsement for fluid-power education in the U.S.