Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering technology. This complex field blends mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems to design engineering solutions. Mechatronics professionals must be experts in robotics, electronics, computer science, and much more.
Mechanical Electronic Systems Engineering Technology
The name 'Mechatronics' may sound like a cartoon supervillain, but its origin story is far from sinister. The word was first coined in Japan in the sixties and was trademarked in the same country in 1971. Mechatronics is a combination of the words Mechanics and Electronics, appropriate since the discipline is a blend of the two fields.
Today, Mechatronics is more of a general industry term used to refer to mechanical engineering technology, its experts, and its applications.
What Do Mechatronics Professionals Do?
Professionals in this industry can be found in many environments. Their knowledge of mechanics, electronics, and computing can help manufacturing facilities simplify and streamline systems and processes, saving time, money, and hassle.
The main responsibilities of a mechatronics professional include improving and repairing existing systems or processes, developing new products or prototypes, designing and testing mechanical or electrical systems, and implementing automation wherever possible.
Mechatronics in Manufacturing
Mechatronics is an integral part of modern manufacturing. As manufacturing facilities rely less on human assembly line workers and more on robotics, mechatronics professionals are called on to maintain the machinery. They ensure that automation continues seamlessly, troubleshooting and repairing as issues arise. Manufacturing robots are a direct result of mechatronics in the field.
Mechatronics in Your Smart Home
Another big development to stem from mechatronics is the Internet of Things (IoT), or network of smart devices all connected to the internet. A perfect blend of mechanics, electronics, and computer science, smart devices would not be possible without innovations in the field of mechatronics.
Because there is some overlap between most all major technological fields, mechatronics professionals now face unexpected technological challenges with the IoT:
- Data Security: Now that objects are connected and communicating with one another, the challenge becomes how to protect that communication, so that hackers are not easily able to invade networks.
- Machine Ethics:As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more advanced, moral and ethical questions must be addressed.
- Human-Machine Interface (HMI): HMIs are dashboard displays from which humans connect to or control machinery. Touchscreens, remote controls, or smart devices’ web applications are all examples of HMIs. Best practices for User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design principles are extensive, making this another unexpected challenge.
Disciplines of Mechatronics
As an incredibly dynamic and evolving field, Mechatronics is split into five unique yet overlapping disciplines:
- Mechanics: Scientific study of physical energy and its effects on objects
- Electronics: Scientific study of the physics surrounding electrons and electronic devices
- Informatics: Study of computation in natural and engineered systems
- Automation: Technology which has been programmed to operate automatically
- Robotics: Intersection of computer science and engineering, used to assist with human tasks
Mechatronics connects these otherwise unrelated fields, and harnesses each to streamline systems and processes related to design and production.
Mechatronics Educational Programs
Due to the incredibly complex and technical nature of the mechatronics industry, it is crucial to obtain formal education before attempting to work in this field.
Mechatronics is a combination of so many other advanced fields that it would be extremely difficult to teach oneself the intricacies of each, and nearly impossible for the sum of those parts to add up to a comprehensive knowledge of Mechatronics.
A Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics could provide the necessary education, training, and experience needed to break into this field. A degree also demonstrates that you’ve received the proper education and instruction.
What Does a Mechatronics Course Cover?
As a complex field, a mechatronics bachelor’s degree program has a lot of ground to cover. A typical program would include:
- 2D & 3D CAD designs for engineering parts
- Hydraulic & Pneumatic systems implementation
- Analyzation of forces and their effect on systems
- Analog & digital electronics
- Engineering & mathematical principles
- Strong communication skills (written & oral)
- Technical teamwork & leadership skills
Remember that a college degree does more than simply teach you about the industry you’ve chosen. A bachelor’s degree program works to develop a well-rounded and work-ready graduate who is skilled in communication, collaboration, professionalism, and ethical behavior.
It is not enough to memorize information, you need to be able to communicate clearly and respectfully, as well as behave appropriately. Formal education can help prepare students not just for the work, but also for the workplace.
What to Look for in a Mechatronics Degree Program
Education is like communication: it’s easier with the right person. Find the right school for you, and learning will feel natural. Colleges and universities are not one-size-fits-all, and you may have to do some research to find a good fit for your lifestyle and goals.
Use the items below as a checklist while you conduct your research, and you’ll be elbow-deep in mechanics and electronics before you know it!
Education shouldn’t require a sacrifice; it should be accessible and convenient. Whether you’re looking for a fresh start or have just graduated high school, it can be difficult to fit schooling into a busy schedule. Some colleges offer courses during the day, evening, on weekends, and online to accommodate students with jobs, families, or other obligations.
- TL;DR: Pick a school that works around your existing schedule, and you’ll find it easier to buckle down and hit the books.
Four years is much too long to put your life on pause—especially if it’s a fresh start you seek. As the world evolves and changes, so does the way we learn. Some universities offer accelerated degree programs which can be completed in as little as 2.5 years. It may be a busy 2.5 years, but it’s manageable if you’re dedicated to your path.
- TL;DR: Look for schools offering accelerated mechatronics degree programs, and you could graduate with a bachelor’s degree in as little as 2.5 years.
Experience is always the catch 22—sort of like needing a job to get a car, and needing a car to get to a job. These days, technical schools are catching on to this catch 22, and making it work for them and their students with practical labs, weekend workshops, and mandatory externships to provide real experience. Hands-on education is available in many industries, and it is a huge benefit to mechatronics students.
- TL;DR: Search for schools offering practical mechatronics exercises (labs, externships, workshops, etc.) which adds up to tangible experience you can put on a resume after graduation.
Education should be convenient. The more stressful it is for a student to get to class, complete assignments, study for tests, and attend workshops, the less likely they are to push through and graduate. Ask yourself: would all of that be easier in person, or online? You have the choice of studying mechatronics online or on-campus—isn’t living in the future great?
- TL;DR: Ask yourself whether you would perform better online or on-campus, and look for schools offering your preference. Online classes can offer convenience without compromise, as students can still gain hands-on experience at workshops, seminars, or competitions.
Easily forgotten, but very important: accreditation is a 3rd party seal of approval on the quality of an academic institution, or its program curricula. Why is this important to you? Because:
Accreditation ensures that a degree earned is a degree with value. Accreditation demonstrates that the institution is committed to quality education and keeps its courses up to date with the industry. This translates to education that meets industry standards, and credits which are more likely to be transferable to & from other educational institutions.
- TL;DR: Accreditation ensures that you’re not wasting time and money on a degree that holds no value. Take a moment to check the regional (the school itself) and programmatic (mechatronics curriculum) accreditation status of any universities you’re considering.
What If I’m Not Tech Savvy?
Would you like to spend your days improving mechanical systems, developing new products, designing and testing systems, or working with automation and robots. Whether you have any prior knowledge or experience doesn’t matter—that's what school is for.
If you’re fascinated and enthusiastic about the idea of working with robots and automation, that’s all you need to get started.
You Could Have a Future in Mechatronics
Consider EPCI University for your Bachelor of Science in Electronic Systems Engineering Technology with a concentration in Mechatronics. Our Mechatronics program is accelerated, hands-on, and convenient. Even better, you could graduate in as little as 2.5 years—this could be the BEST decision you ever make!
DISCLAIMER - ECPI University makes no claim, warranty, or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program we offer. The ECPI University website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the ECPI.edu domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.