Mechatronic Engineer

Mechatronic engineers research, design, develop and maintain machinery with electronic and computer control systems, such as aircraft, robots, motor vehicles, cameras, power generators and mining and chemical plant machinery.  They also test automation, intelligent systems, smart devices or industrial systems control.



Mechatronic engineering is a new focus area in engineering that promises to become even more important in the future, in South Africa as well as internationally. With automation currently regarded as the key to improved productivity, the need for mechatronics (which makes it possible to generate simpler, more economical, reliable and versatile systems) increases by the day.

Mechatronic engineering is a combination of precision mechanical engineering, electronics and computer systems; it incorporates computer, control and systems design engineering, and can be used to create intelligent machines and advanced manufacturing and processing systems.

Mechatronic engineers may perform the following tasks:

  • design, develop, maintain and manage high-technology engineering systems for the automation of industrial tasks
  • identify and select materials appropriate for mechatronic system designs
  • apply mechatronic or automated solutions to the transfer of material, components or finished goods
  • apply advanced electronic control systems for mechanical systems, which are usually computer-driven
  • design and assist in the manufacture of mechatronics components for computer-controlled products, such as cameras, video recorders, cars or aeroplanes
  • upgrade the design of existing devices by adding mechatronic elements
  • create mechanical models and tolerance analyses to simulate mechatronic design concepts
  • develop electronic and mechanical or computerised processes to perform tasks where the use of human labour may be dangerous, such as underwater exploration, extraterrestrial mining or forestry
  • carry out studies into the feasibility, cost implications and performance benefits of new mechatronic equipment

Other tasks are to maintain technical project files, oversee the work of contractors in accordance with project requirements, to provide consultation or training on topics such as mechatronics or automated control and to publish engineering reports documenting design details or qualification test results.  They also need to monitor or calibrate automated systems, industrial control systems or system components to maximise the efficiency of production.

Workplaces range from laboratories, workshops and processing plants to engineering design offices.  They may be required to travel to view new design ideas or technologies, or to present at or attend conferences.


Personal Requirements

  • enjoy technical and engineering activities
  • have good communication skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to think creatively and solve problems
  • interested in mechanical equipment, such as robotic and production equipment, and good at Physics and Mathematics


How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects


Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science 
Recommended subjects: Engineering and Graphic Design 
Additional: 





What to Study

Degree: BEng (Mechatronic) degree can be taken at various universities, e.g. NMMU, UCT, UKZN, US. Mechatronic engineers need to have a degree in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, control systems engineering or in a similar field in order to be eligible for employment as a mechatronics engineer.

Postgraduate: For research posts, a Masters or PhD is required with courses taken in the field of mechatronics

At US, for example, the BEng (Mechatronic) programme contains elements from the BEng (Mechanical) and the BEng (Electrical and Electronic) programmes. The most important difference between the mechanical engineering programme and the mechatronic programme is that mechanical engineers are equipped to develop mechatronic systems with existing controllers (computers, PLC’s, etc.), while mechatronic engineers are also equipped to develop the necessary electronic controllers themselves (e.g. for built-in controllers) and the relevant electronics. In the BEng (Mechatronic) programme, some of the more specialised elements of the BEng (Mechanical) programme are replaced by electronics and computer engineering from the BEng (Electrical and Electronic) programme.


Employment

Companies and organisations involved in:

  • aerospace industry
  • automotive industry
  • chemical Processing
  • computers
  • communications
  • education
  • electronics
  • healthcare
  • manufacturing and process
  • marine engineering
  • mining
  • research and development


Further Information

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) 
1st Floor, Waterview Corner Building
2 Ernest Oppenheimer Avenue
Bruma Lake Office Park, Bruma
Johannesburg, 2198 
Tel: (011) 607-9500
www.ecsa.co.za


Getting Started

  • speak to a mechatronic engineer about this career
  • read up on mechatronic engineering
  • try and do voluntary work for companies that make use of automated processes or other high technology engineering solutions


Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations


Robotics, AI, Mechatronics in producing food

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