What is Mechatronics ?
The name Mechatronics stems from mechanical and electronics and is a relatively new approach to product design and development, merging the principles of electrical, mechanical, computer and industrial engineering. It addresses the four interconnected disciplines used for all complex modern devices. Mechatronic systems are typically composed of traditional mechanical and electrical components but are referred to as "smart" devices or systems because of the incorporation of sensors, actuators and computer control systems. Over the years, the term "mechatronics" has come to mean the integrated methodology for designing products that exhibit fast, precise performance.
Mechatronics is an emerging field of engineering that integrates electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, control engineering and information technology. In layman's terms, mechatronics combines these areas of engineering to allow the design, development and application of "smart devices" in an integrated, cross-disciplinary manner. The mechatronics concept establishes basic principles for a contemporary engineering design methodology. In this methodology, engineering products and processes have components that require manipulation and control of dynamic (moving) constructions to the required high degree of accuracy. Also, the design process requires integrating enabling technologies such as information technology and control engineering. A key factor for the design process involves integrating modern microelectronics and the engineering of software into mechanical and electromechanical systems.
Why Study Mechatronics?
Mechatronics has been popular in Japan and Europe for many years but has been slow to gain industrial and academic acceptance as a field and practice in Great Britain and the United States. In the past, machine and product design has been the domain of mechanical engineers. After the machine was designed by mechanical engineers, solutions to control and programming problems were added by software and computer engineers. This sequential-engineering approach usually resulted in less-than-optimal designs and is now recognized as less than optimal itself.
The prime role of mechatronics is one of initiation and integration throughout the whole of the design process, with the mechatronics engineer as the leader. Experts in the interdisciplinary mechatronics field must acquire general knowledge of various techniques and be able to master the entire design process. They must be able to use the special knowledge resources of other people and the particular blend of technologies that will provide the most economic, innovative, elegant and appropriate solution to the problem at hand. Industry needs mechatronics engineers to continue to rapidly develop innovative products with performance, quality and low cost.
Where do Mechatronic Engineers work?
Mechatronic devices or "smart" devices have become common in our technologically advanced society. Mechatronics engineers can work in any company that develops, designs or manufactures and markets "smart" devices. Opportunities exist in manufacturing, sales and as well as research. Mechatronic devices have crept into everyday life.
- Anti-lock brakes
- A sophisticated control system takes over the braking function when the sensors recognize one or more wheels are locking up.
- Computer disk drives
- Humidity sensitive clothes dryers and windshield wipers
- How do these devices "know" if clothes are still damp or drizzle is hitting the windshield? Sensors, that's how.
Mechatronic devices can be found in medicine and surgery, agriculture, buildings, homes, automobiles, the toy and entertainment industry, intelligent aids for the elderly and disabled. For more information