A combination of the principles of various fields of engineering (mechanical, electronics, computer and software, system design and control systems), mechatronics engineering deals with internal working of almost all electronic things—from mobile phones to computer processors, from coffee makers and other home appliances to computer hard disks, from medical devices to artificially intelligent systems. A mechatronics engineer basically uses mechanical, computer and controls knowledge to design and create products, researches components of design and tests products for their efficiency and adaptability.
Various fileds that make up Mechatronics
(Image courtesy: Wikipedia)
Mechatronics engineering jobs are focussed mainly on creating uncomplicated, more profitable and reliable systems. An industrial robot is a good example of a mechatronics system at work, as it combines mechanics, electronics and computing aspects.
“Mechatronics is a study related to the application of mechanical, electronics and computer science engineering, and the future belongs to this blend of engineering,” believes Sudhir Reddy, managing director, Jay Robotix. He says, “When we look at any industry, the advancements in technology are happening at an extremely faster pace and every innovation involves advancements in either software or hardware. There is tremendous scope for automation in industries, which requires research in these combined sciences. There are terrific career opportunities for students who would like to pursue a career in this direction. We cannot predict how advanced the technology will be five years from now, but we can confidently predict that the team that designs it will include computer programmers and electronic embedded systems experts.”
“There is a lot of scope in the mechatronics sector,” believes Dr S.K. Saha, Naren Gupta chair professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Delhi. He says, “Today almost everything we use in our daily life, like mobile phone (it has a motor for vibration and of course other electronic items inside to show the display, communicate with other users, etc), washing machine, motor car, etc, is a combination of mechanical and electrical/electronic items. Hence, the knowledge in that area is a must in case somebody wants to work in companies which manufacture them,”. Almost every engineering college today, including the IITs and NITs, offer mechatronics in their UG/PG programme.
Talking about the scope at his organisation, Sudhir Reddy shares, “Majority of the freshers at Jay Robotix are required to work on areas such as embedded systems engineering roles, mechanical design roles, software programmer roles, design engineers roles and other electronics engineering roles. We recruit interns with practical attitude and offer roles which will help them realise their potential strengths. The student will be given a permanent role based on the performance. We believe in making it interesting for the students/graduates while on the job.”
To design and develop products in the mechatronics domain in India, 27 per cent engineers are hired by the engineering/manufacturing sector as per TimesJobs’ statistics. Thirteen per cent work in the consumer durable/FMCG sector, 12 per cent in the software industry, 11 per cent in the hardware industry and 9 per cent in construction/cement/steel industry. Remaining 28 per cent are scattered amongst the other industries.
Talking about the top functional areas and geographical locations where mechatronics engineers are hired in India, Vivek Madhukar, COO, TBSL (which operates TimesJobs.com) explains, “People with cross-functional engineering skills are highly sought after across industries, particularly in the manufacturing and engineering, FMCG and IT sectors. In terms of the location of these jobs, the three cities, i.e., Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai together account for almost 50 per cent. This is not surprising considering the concentration of electro-mechanical and IT industries in these areas.” Adding to that, Pune and Bhubaneshwar, each share about 10 per cent of the engineers working in the mechatronics sector. And apart from the engineering and IT sectors, 7 per cent of the mechatronics professionals are into the teaching/education domain. A mere 2 per cent of each are into marketing/sales and logistics/supply chain management/procurement sectors.
A good future
Sudhir Reddy says, “According to IFR-International Federation of Robotics—robotics will create one million jobs by 2016 in consumer electronics industry, energy industry, automotive, SME and robotics industry itself. Keeping aside the jobs part, I suggest young graduates to take path of their interest. If it is mechatronics, they should be focussed and it will be highly rewarding.” Career opportunities in the domain of mechatronics are ceaseless, as the job requires a broad range of specialist skills that are in demand across many different industry sectors.
Be strong in the fundamental subjects, particularly those covered in the first two years of the engineering course before diving into core mechatronics subjects/projects, notes Dr Saha. He adds, “In addition, take up projects which are interdisciplinary in nature. For example, there is a Robocon India competition every year organised by Doordarshan. Students participating in that or similar competitions are certainly doing mechatronics.”
The author is a senior technical correspondent at EFY Bengaluru