Mechatronic machines are all over the place. From your car’s memory-adjust seats to your computer’s hard drive to your coffee maker, they are intertwined with our daily activities. So, while the term may be unfamiliar, why not take a few moments and learn a little about this fascinating field? It could change your life. The fact is that, mechatronic technology is one of the great engineering breakthroughs of the past few decades. So, if you plan to study engineering at ECPI University, consider a concentration in mechatronics.
Coined by Japanese engineer Tatsuro Mori in 1969, “mechatronics” refers to any technology that integrates computer, control, mechanical, and electronic systems. To work in mechatronics is to design computer-controlled devices which can operate remotely.
Originally, machines that combined the above systems were not designed by a single team. Rather, a separate company or team would design the electronic, control, and computer components, while the manufacturer would design the machine as a whole. The manufacturer would not share its designs with the other companies, as its competitive advantage depended on keeping its designs a secret.
Nowadays, however, business competition is tighter, and companies can no longer afford to sacrifice efficiency for trade secrets. Manufacturers have to make the simplest, most effective machines, which means bringing all types of engineers and designers together in a collaborative effort. Mechatronics have thus become the norm.
Welcome to the future:
To say that mechatronic technology represents the future of engineering would undersell how important it already is. The most successful manufacturers are invariably the ones who have integrated mechatronics into their design processes. According to a study of 170 companies by the Aberdeen Group, a technology think-tank, businesses that encourage mechatronics and other collaborative processes are more profitable. Such companies bring key specialists together for design, or give them information-sharing software so they can collaborate remotely.
Many universities, including ECPI, have incorporated mechatronics into their engineering programs. Even schools that don’t offer mechatronics degrees still require their mechanical engineers to learn the basics of controls, programming, and electronics.
Many companies have also taken mechatronics training into their own hands. Proctor & Gamble Co., for example, trains all of its engineers in mechatronics upon hiring them.
The importance of mechatronics is expected to keep growing in the future. International engineering interests have hosted mechatronics conferences with delegates from all over the globe, while peer-reviewed engineering journals focus heavily on the concept. No engineering graduate can afford to ignore this brave new technology.
Interested in studying mechatronics? Contact ECPI for more information.