What Is Mechatronics?

Mechatronics 101

Technology is ever-changing and expanding. So are the fields that fall under the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) umbrella and the careers available in those fields.

One field that’s relatively new is that of mechatronics. Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary field that plays a critical role in the development and manufacture of the devices and gadgets that power the modern world.

People who pursue careers in mechatronics gain a wide skill set that covers the disciplines of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computing, pneumatics, electronic systems, and robotics. Learn more about the history and evolution of mechatronics and what you can expect if you decide to pursue it as a career.

Mechatronics Defined

The word mechatronics comes from a combination of “mechanical” and “electronics.” When the field was first developed in the 1960s[1], it focused on combining electronics with mechanical engineering. As technology developed, other fields, such as computing and robotics, began to fall under the mechatronics umbrella.

Mechatronics unifies fields that might seem to have little connection with one another to create systems that are streamlined and simplified. In recent times, people working as mechatronics technicians have worked with the development of 5G, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT), among other disciplines and technologies.

What Do Mechatronics Technicians Do?

Mechatronics technicians typically work with mechanical and electrical engineers. Their job responsibilities can range from testing machines at job sites and factories to operating the machines. They might work in an industrial setting, where they are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and installing robotic, automated, or computer-controlled systems.

On a work or job site, a mechatronics technician might be responsible for testing, maintaining, and operating robotic equipment, such as unmanned drilling equipment, submarines, or aircraft.

How Can You Start a Career in Mechatronics?

If working as a mechatronics technician sounds interesting to you, the first place to start is in a career certificate program. The Mechatronics Technology certificate program at Orange Technical College takes 1,550 hours to complete, or about 16 months full-time. Once you complete the course and earn your certificate, you will be ready to take the four Certified Production Technician assessments offered by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council[2] and ready to earn the Industrial Technology Maintenance credential from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

During your training to become a mechatronics technician, you can expect to study the following systems:

  • Electronic
  • Mechanical
  • Hydraulics and pneumatics
  • Programmable Logic Controllers
  • Robotics

What Skills Will Help You Succeed in Mechatronics?

As mechatronics combines a variety of disciplines, you can expect that it also combines a variety of skill sets. Having the following skills will help you do well in the field:

  • Logical thinking. A mechatronics technician needs to be able to think logically and follow instructions.
  • Writing. A mechatronics technician should be able to write clear reports.
  • Math. Whether they are designing a system or troubleshooting, mechatronics technicians often need to use math.
  • Hand-eye coordination/Dexterity. It’s important that technicians have good hand-eye coordination, as the job might require them to solder or work with small parts.
  • Interpersonal skills. Technicians will work with engineers and with other technicians and need to be able to communicate effectively, to give and take advice, and to cooperate with their team members.

What Can You Expect From a Career as a Mechatronics Technician?

Career opportunities for mechatronics technicians are expected to increase by about 3% over the next 10 years[3]. Careers are likely to be available in the following industries:

  • GPS and control instruments manufacturing
  • Machinery manufacturing
  • Motor vehicle parts manufacturing
  • Engineering services
  • Semiconductor/electrical component manufacturing

The median salary earned by mechatronics technicians in 2019 was $58,350. Technicians working in certain industries had a slightly higher median salary while those working in other industries had a slightly lower median salary. Technicians employed in engineering services had a median salary of $60,360 per year while those working in semiconductor manufacturing earned a median annual salary of $53,580.

If you’re interested in a multi-disciplinary career and are excited about the possibilities presented by technology, mechatronics might be the right career field for you. Orange Technical College offers its Mechatronics Technology career certificate program at our Mid Florida campus. Request more information today to learn more about the program and how to enroll.

Sources:

  1. What Is Mechatronics? Northeastern University, https://www.northeastern.edu/bachelors-completion/news/what-is-mechatronics/
  2. Certified Production Technician 4.0, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, https://www.msscusa.org/certification/production-certification-cpt/
  3. Electro-Mechanical Technicians, BLS, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electro-mechanical-technicians.htm

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