I have got myself a job… And the best thing is, it is quite related to my degree… Hmmmmm, well, not so, I would say.
Alright then, let us start from the beginning… I have a diploma and a degree in Mechatronics Engineering. I did my diploma in Malaysia, where I was born and somehow, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to further my study in degree in Australia.
So you ask, what the heck is MECHATRONICS?
Ahhhhh, a very good question indeed. If you ask one of my lecturers during my diploma time, he would answer with:
Mechatronics is a field for someone who is very greedy and unsure of what to do. It is a field where the students learn nearly everything and yet they are not good in anything. They just want to do everything…
Thank you sir, that is very supportive!
Anyway, I give you what Wikipedia said about Mechatronics:
Mechatronics is the combination of Mechanical engineering, Electronic engineering, Computer engineering, Control engineering, and Systems Design engineering to create useful products.
Better answer if you compare to the previous answer… At least you do not feel bad for doing that course…
And here are some technical definitions for Mechatronics, taken from Mechatronics: An Introduction edited by Robert H. Bishop:
The definition of Mechatronics has evolved since the original definition by the Yasakawa Electric Company.
In trademark application documents, Yasakawa defined Mechatronics in this way:
The word, Mechatronics, is composed of “mecha” from mechanism and the “tronics” from electronics.
In other words, technologies and developed products will be incorporating electronics more and more into mechanisms, intimately and organically, and making it impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.
The definition of Mechatronics continued to evolve after Yasakawa suggested the original definition. One oft quoted definition of Mechatronics was presented by Harashima, Tomizuka, and Fukada in 1996.
In their words, Mechatronics is defined as the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering, with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacturing of industrial products and processes.
That same year, another definition was suggested by Auslander and Kempf:
Mechatronics is the application of complex decision making to the operation of physical systems.
Yet another definition due to Shetty and Kolk appeared in 1997:
Mechatronics is a methodology used for the optimal design of electromechanical products.
More recently, we find the suggestion by W. Bolton:
A Mechatronics system is not just a marriage of electrical and mechanical systems and is more than just a control system; it is a complete integration of all of them.
All of these definitions and statements about Mechatronics are accurate and informative, yet each one in and of itself fails to capture the totality of Mechatronics.
Despite continuing efforts to define Mechatronics, to classify Mechatronics products, and to develop a standard Mechatronics curriculum, a consensus opinion on an all-encompassing description of “what is Mechatronics” eludes us.
This lack of consensus is a healthy sign. It says that the field is alive, that it is a youthful subject. Even without an unarguably definitive description of Mechatronics, engineers understand from the definitions given above and from their own personal experiences the essence of the philosophy of Mechatronics.
For many practicing engineers on the front line of engineering design, Mechatronics is nothing new.
Many engineering products of the last 25 years integrated mechanical, electrical, and computer systems, yet were designed by engineers that were never formally trained in Mechatronics per se.
It appears that modern concurrent engineering design practices, now formally viewed as part of the Mechatronics specialty, are natural design processes.
What is evident is that the study of Mechatronics provides a mechanism for scholars interested in understanding and explaining the engineering design process to define, classify, organize, and integrate many aspects of product design into a coherent package.
As the historical divisions between mechanical, electrical, aerospace, chemical, civil, and computer engineering become less clearly defined, we should take comfort in the existence of Mechatronics as a field of study in academia.
The Mechatronics specialty provides an educational path, that is, a roadmap, for engineering students studying within the traditional structure of most engineering colleges. Mechatronics is generally recognized worldwide as a vibrant area of study.
Undergraduate and graduate programs in Mechatronics engineering are now offered in many universities. Refereed journals are being published and dedicated conferences are being organized and are generally highly attended.
It should be understood that Mechatronics is not just a convenient structure for investigative studies by academicians; it is a way of life in modern engineering practice.
The introduction of the microprocessor in the early 1980s and the ever increasing desired performance to cost ratio revolutionized the paradigm of engineering design. The number of new products being developed at the intersection of traditional disciplines of engineering, computer science, and the natural sciences is ever increasing.
New developments in these traditional disciplines are being absorbed into Mechatronics design at an ever increasing pace. The ongoing information technology revolution, advances in wireless communication, smart sensors design (enabled by MEMS technology), and embedded systems engineering ensures that the engineering design paradigm will continue to evolve in the early twenty-first century.
Phew, that is a long one…
And if people ask me, what is Mechatronics? I will just say,
“It is a mix of Mechanical and Electronics and we play with robots.”
Most of the people will be happy with that and they will be more interested with how much my salary will be and which big companies I will work with instead…