Mechatronic engineering

Close-up on an engineering student working on a robot and welding circuits

What is Mechatronic Engineering? 

Mechatronic Engineering is the discipline built up on the fundamentals of machine design, control systems and computing to develop automated systems. Mechatronic engineers design automated systems by integrating sensing and actuation with intelligent software, giving the machine the decision-making capability. 

Mechatronic Engineers develop advanced robotic systems such as those used in the world of medicine. In particular, surgical robots can assist doctors in performing intricate surgeries by integrating miniature cameras to provide close-up, clearer views of locations and advanced control systems to remove human tremors that commonly exist in manual surgeries. They also offer haptic feedback for surgeons to feel the forces at the actual site and incorporate sophisticated robotically operated surgical tools. These systems are known to deliver significantly improved outcomes for patients.

Mechatronic Engineers in the workforce 

Mechatronic engineers work in all aspects of the development of the smart machine – from design and testing right through to manufacture. This could be in industries like robotics, medical and assistive technology, human-machine interaction, manufacturing, unmanned aerial and ground vehicles and education. 

The demand for engineers with experience and knowledge of computing, robotics and engineering principles continues to grow as industries evolve. Example of industries mechatronic engineers can work in include: 

  • Automation 
  • Robotics 
  • Instrumentation 
  • Sensors and actuators design 
  • Control systems 
  • Factory automation 
  • Autonomous vehicles 
  • Software 

Mechatronic engineers create smart machines that are aware of their surroundings and can make decisions. These smart machines are complex beings made up of several parts: the mechanical system itself, the sensing and actuation, the control systems and the software. The opportunities available to develop such intelligent machines are constantly evolving. 

What do Mechatronic Engineers do? 

Here are some tasks you might be expected to perform in your role as a mechatronic engineer: 

  • Develop new solutions to industrial problems using mechanical and electronic processes and computer technology 
  • Design and build completely new products by integrating various technologies such as developing robotic vehicles for underwater exploration 
  • Build and test factory production lines introducing automation to improve existing processes 
  • Maintain and improve previous industrial and manufacturing processes and designs such as robotic lawn mowers and robot floor cleaners 
  • Design, develop, maintain and manage high technology engineering systems for the automation of industrial tasks 
  • Apply mechatronic or automated solutions to the transfer of material, components or finished goods 
  • Apply advanced control systems, which are usually computer-driven 
  • Apply electronic and mechanical processes and computers to tasks where the use of human labour may be dangerous. For example. underwater exploration, mining or forestry 
  • Study the feasibility, cost implications and performance benefits of new mechatronic equipment 
  • Carry out modelling, simulation and analysis of complex mechanical, electronic or other engineering systems using computers.