Mechanics plus electronics equals mechatronics. This field combines the disciplines of electrical, mechanical, computer and industrial engineering to develop high-speed and accurate products. Mechatronic engineers work in a variety of fields, including medicine, automobile manufacturing and the toy industry. Although mechatronics has taken hold in Europe and Japan, it has not spread throughout the higher educational system in the United States. At the end of 2013, a limited number of schools offered mechatronic undergraduate or graduate programs.
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology offers the first mechatronics Bachelor of Science degree in New York state. Along with courses in electronics and mechanical engineering, students take several liberal arts classes. The curriculum includes real-world assignments proposed by professionals in the field. In the fall of 2013, the California School of Pennsylvania launched its undergraduate program in mechatronics engineering technology. The curriculum includes a combination of engineering lectures and laboratory classes where students work with various electrical and mechanical technologies. General education courses are required, as well as several classes in calculus and physics.
California State University in Chico offers a B.S. in Mechatronic Engineering degree. Classes are relatively small, and students often work in teams to complete projects. The program helps prepare students to take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, the first step toward becoming a licensed engineer in the state. Located in San Luis Obispo, California Polytechnic State University’s mechanical engineering undergraduate program has a mechatronics concentration option. In addition to mechanical engineering requirements, students take introductory and advanced classes in mechatronics and the fundamentals of robotics. Three courses guide senior student groups through the process of developing a real-world product.
Set in Hammond, Indiana, Purdue University Calumet is a regional center of the Purdue University system. Students in the mechatronics bachelor’s program study a range of engineering topics, including strength of materials, fluid mechanics, computer aided design and manufacturing processes. A central purpose of the program is to train technologists for the high-speed packaging industry. Michigan’s Oakland University offers a Master of Science in Mechatronics. To enter the program, students must have an undergraduate degree in an engineering field from an accredited institution. In addition to their course work, students may complete a culminating master’s thesis or engineering project. These options are recommended but not required.
The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University offer a joint engineering program with a mechatronics concentration. NC State provides mechanical, aerospace, electrical and computer engineering courses, while UNC supplies the required humanities and social sciences. The program is located on the UNC Asheville campus. NC State faculty teach some of the engineering classes at Asheville, but others are provided through distance-learning technologies. The mechatronics undergraduate degree program at Georgia’s Southern Polytechnic State University was established in 2007. During the first two years, students take fundamental courses in computer science, physics, chemistry and calculus. Mechanical and electrical engineering courses follow. During their final year, students focus on mechatronics.