Exploring this Job
One of the best ways to learn about the field is to talk with mechatronics engineers about their careers. Ask them how they prepared for the field in high school and college, what they like and dislike about their jobs, and any other questions that will help you to better understand the field. Your science teacher or a counselor can help arrange an information interview. Read books and visit Web sites that discuss mechatronics engineering. One useful resource is the Mechatronics page of the ASME Web site, https://www.asme.org/topics-resources/content/mechatronics-and-the-role-of-engineers. Finally, join the Technology Student Association, which provides students a chance to explore career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, enter academic competitions, and participate in summer exploration programs. Visit https://tsaweb.org for more information.
IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, the first refereed journal on mechatronics published in the U.S., defines mechatronics as the “synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacturing of industrial products and processes.” It identified 10 areas that are categorized under the general category of mechatronics: Modeling and Design; Motion Control; System Integration; Vibration and Noise Control; Actuators and Sensors; Micro Devices and Optoelectronic Systems; Intelligent Control; Automotive Systems; Robotics; and Manufacturing.
A mechatronics system consists of mechanical, electrical, and computer components. The physical system typically includes sensors, actuators, electronic components, and an embedded digital control system. Mechatronic systems can be a sub-component of a product (e.g., antilock brake systems in a vehicle) or a complete product (a household thermostat). A true mechatronic system consists of mechanical, electrical, and computer components that have been simultaneously linked and optimized from the design stages of a project through the end stage of the manufacturing process. Major duties of mechatronics engineers include:
- creating mechanical design documents for parts, assemblies, or finished products using computer-aided design programs
- using software (SolidWorks, MATLAB, Simulink, etc.) to model system behavior
- creating mechanical models and tolerance analyses to simulate mechatronic design concepts
- developing and deploying feedback control algorithms that improve the dynamic performance of motion control and other systems
- researching, selecting, or applying sensors, communication technologies, or control devices for motion control, position sensing, pressure sensing, or electronic communication systems
- identifying and selecting materials appropriate for mechatronic system designs
- conducting engineering studies and product evaluations to support new product development
- planning, developing, and implementing new electro-mechanical systems for new product development
- conducting studies to determine the feasibility, costs, and performance benefits of new and existing mechatronic equipment
- troubleshooting and solving problems with electromechanical systems
- supporting other departments with technical support and development as required
- publishing engineering reports documenting design details or qualification test results