About Mechatronics [Mechanical engineering]

About Mechatronics

What is Mechatronics?

Mechatronic engineering is concerned with the design of automated machines. It is strongly based on a combination of mechanical, electronics and software engineering, but is a distinctly different discipline to all three.

Mechatronics engineering differs from automation engineering in that its practitioners have a deep understanding of the performance analysis and design of complex machines. It differs from mechanical engineering in that its practitioners understand how automations can be designed and integrated into a machine very effectively to achieve an outcome. A mechatronics engineer is capable of thinking holistically about a mechatronic system, rather than focussing on certain domain specific elements such as the mechanical system or the software. An understanding of how to model a system from a power perspective (rather than thinking in terms of voltages or forces) is fundamental to this.

Many mechatronic engineers work with the electronic instrumentation and computer control systems which nearly all machinery relies on for efficient and reliable operation. We take it for granted that automatic systems monitor process plants for leaks and faults, and keep the plant operating all the year round. Mechatronic engineers build and design these systems and need expertise in computing and electronics, core mechanical engineering knowledge, and the ability to bring these together to make working systems which meet the safety and reliability levels we take for granted.

Mechatronic engineers also have roles in project engineering, reliability engineering and power engineering where their cross-disciplinary knowledge gives them an edge on mechanical or electrical engineers. Mechatronic engineers can work with electrical and mechanical systems together and solve problems that cross discipline boundaries. Their strength in IT, computer hardware and networking as well as software also helps them to be very versatile problem solvers. Writing and testing software for specialised computer systems and micro-controllers forms a major part of the work of many mechatronic engineers.

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