Mechatronics

Industry and the consumer market require engineering processes and products that are more  reliable, more efficient, smaller, faster, and less expensive. The production and development of these devices require engineers who can understand and design systems from an integrated perspective. A discipline that shows particular promise in this arena is mechatronic design, based on the integration of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science (figure below).

Mechatronics is an especially important and interesting domain for modern industry for a number of reasons. The automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, power systems, test and instrumentation, consumer and industrial electronics industries make use of and contribute to mechatronics. Mechatronic design has surfaced as a new philosophy of design, based on the integration of existing disciplines primarily mechanical, and electrical, electronic, and software engineering. Design elements from these traditional disciplines don’t simply exist side by side, but are deeply integrated in the design process. Whether a given functionality should be achieved electronically, by software, or by elements from electrical or mechanical engineering domains requires mastery of analysis and synthesis techniques from the different areas. Being a successful mechatronics design engineer requires an in-depth understanding of many, if not all, of its constituent disciplines.

One of the distinguishing features of the mechatronic approach to the design of products and processes is the use of embedded microcontrollers. These microcontrollers replace many mechanical functions with electronic ones, resulting in much greater flexibility, ease of redesign or reprogramming, the ability to implement distributed control in complex systems, and the ability to conduct automated data collection and reporting. Mechatronic design represents the fusion of traditional mechanical, electrical, and software engineering design methods with sensors and instrumentation technology, electric drive and actuator technology, and embedded real-time microprocessor systems and real-time software. Mechatronic systems range from heavy industrial machinery, to vehicle propulsion systems, to precision electromechanical motion control devices. (By Principles and Application of Electronics, McGraw Hill)