A mechatronics engineer develops innovative new systems by combining elements of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science. Professionals in the field design a wide range of consumer products and industrial machinery, from cars to televisions to robotic assembly lines. In addition, a mechatronics engineer may lend his or her skills to the creation of safer and more efficient medical equipment. Regardless of the nature of the work, a mechatronics engineer must be creative, determined, and able to intuitively understand the complex relationships between mechanics, electronics, and computers.
When planning a new project, a mechatronics engineer might consult with experts from many different disciplines. He or she may speak with marketing managers to determine if there is a demand for a new design; consulting with factory workers to see if they could benefit from changes to their equipment is common as well. The engineer can then begin brainstorming, drawing schematics, and creating computer models with drafting software. The design phase of a project can take anywhere from a few days to several months depending on the complexity of the system and the available budget.
Once plans are finalized, a mechatronics engineer leads a team of technicians in building a prototype. Many engineers personally participate in testing and inspecting a machine or product once it is constructed. They try to identify potential setbacks or problems before they occur in order to make the proper adjustments. Engineers who are confident in their products may write technical user manuals and apply for patents on their designs. Successful systems can then be mass produced and distributed.
Mechatronics engineers are responsible for many modern advancements in medical equipment. Engineers have improved vital sign monitoring machines, computerized tomography scanners, and magnetic resonance imaging devices, among dozens of other innovations. In addition to having traditional engineering knowledge, many mechatronics engineers in the medical industry have some practical or academic experience in the biological sciences.
A person who wants to become a mechatronics engineer can look into bachelor's degree programs in the specialty. In recent years, the demand for new engineers has dramatically increased the number of mechatronics programs offered worldwide. If such a degree plan is unavailable, a student can still benefit from majoring in mechanical, electrical, or software engineering. A graduate can look for entry-level opportunities at local manufacturing plants and product development centers. New engineers typically spend several years in supervised junior positions to gain experience before advancing to official mechatronics engineer jobs.