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What Is Mechatronics?

Those in mechatronics often work on robots.
Mechatronic systems enable bomb-defusing robots to work with precision.
Mechatronics engineers design household appliances, including clothes dryers.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
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The term "mechatronics" comes from the words "mechanical" and "electronics" combined. It combines traditional fields of mechanical and electrical engineering, fused together with IT or computer science and mathematics. The application of mechatronics in everyday life ranges from power systems to transportation; optical telecommunications to biomedical engineering, along with a long list of related disciplines. It was coined by Tetsuro Mori, a Japanese engineer from Yasukawa Electric Company, in 1969.

Mechatronic systems exist in almost every science, mechanical or industrial field, and it seems that there are no limits to the future of this discipline. Development of robotic systems, implants in the human body to improve physiological functions, and other technologies may improve knowledge and human life. The field has long been popular in Japan and Europe, and since the 2000s, it is slowly gaining academic and industrial acceptance as a scientific field and practice in the U.K. the U.S.

Those who study or complete a degree in the field can have careers in a large spectrum of industries. Career opportunities in this fast emerging and evolving discipline exist both in the private and public sectors. Graduates can have a successful career in aerospace, robotics, defense and automotive production, food processing, space systems, modern industrial systems, manufacturing, sales and manufacturing of engineered products, information technology, and even business.

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A person with a degree in this discipline can contribute greatly as a software engineer, project manager, project planner, project designer, or design engineer. Statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that mechatronics engineers have had excellent employment opportunities. Furthermore, the demand for highly qualified professionals possessing multidisciplinary skills, combined with knowledge of mechanical and electronic systems, may continues to rise.

Products considered mechatronic devices or smart devices have become ubiquitous. Engineers can employ their services to companies that develop, design, manufacture, and market these smart devices. People make use of these devices, often without even being aware of the mechatronic field. Some of these smart devices include computer disk drives, robots, photocopiers, robots, clothes dryers, and windshield wipers.

These mechatronic devices can be found in industries such as agriculture, medicine and surgery, homes, buildings, automobiles, entertainment, and the toy industry. Products may also be used as aids for the disabled and elderly. As a highly dynamic and multi-faceted discipline, students and teachers must constantly be aware of new academic discoveries, and regularly update and sharpen their skills in order to fully exhaust the discipline’s possible contributions to mankind.

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Discuss this Article

bythewell
Post 3

@browncoat - I don't think this is going to be limited to the elderly, to be honest. People already use robotics and mechatronics in their houses and I don't just mean the window wipers on their cars. I've heard of people getting attached to their automatic vacuum cleaners, talking to them like they are a pet.

And that's not even getting into the fact that we have real cyborgs around now. People who have lost a limb can get replacements that are electronic and entirely worked by the person's mind.

The future is going to be really fascinating. If I was doing my schooling over again I would definitely consider this field.

browncoat
Post 2

@irontoenail - Well, if anyone is thinking about going into mechatronic engineering, that field is going to absolutely explode in the next few decades. So many countries are heading into a position of having a massive glut of elderly and not enough workers to take care of them. Especially China, but Japan and the USA and most of Europe are heading that way as well, mostly because of declining birth rates.

Without robots or other mechanical devices, we'd be in a much worse state. But, I did read an article recently which examined whether this is the ideal solution. Using robots for things like transport aren't that bad, but the companion robots that are being developed could be a moral dilemma.

Because people get genuinely attached to robots, like they do with pets, and unlike a dog, there is no way to fool yourself into thinking the robot really returns your affection. That kind of false love seems like a poor way to repay the elderly.

irontoenail
Post 1

I've seen quite a lot of articles and videos recently on how mechatronics design is going to revolutionize the care of the elderly. They seem to have robots for transport and for reminding people to take their medicine and for vacuuming the carpets and for dozens of other things.

They even have robots to take the place of human attention. For example, they have a little robot seal who coos when it is stroked and does a few other things. Apparently people get really attached to it and it can help their stress levels.

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