About - Mechatronics - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

About the Mechatronics Programme

The Mechatronics Engineering BE(Hons) Degree Programme is a new degree provided by the Mechanical Engineering and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments of the College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury.

It is situated on the Ilam campus which is about 5 km west of the centre of Christchurch.

What is Mechatronics Engineering?

Mechatronics refers to the efficient and effective integration of mechanical systems and electronics. It is a blend of mechanics and electronics, and has come to mean the synergistic use of:

  • precision engineering
  • control theory
  • computer science
  • mathematics
  • sensor technology, to design enhanced or "smart" products, processes and systems.

It integrates the classical fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, and computer science/information technology. Its application areas range from power systems to transportation to optical telecommunications to biomedical engineering, along with a host of others. Mechatronic systems are almost everywhere you look.

Mechatronics has enabled the successful realisation of systems such as the Mars Rover that have left the world standing silently in wonder. The Mars Rover was the product of several years of research and development to ensure engineers on earth could effectively control the Rover. It had to be able to negotiate any terrain encountered as well as perform fine motions to grab and sample rock and soil - much like expecting a rugby union prop to also be an accomplished ballet dancer! Of course that call occurred after a brilliant and novel Mars landing strategy was developed.

The future is virtually unlimited for mechatronics, and much of it is here today. Robotic systems and components are already as small as a few microns and researchers are investigating nano-technologies using mechatronic systems for implantation into the human body to repair or replace damaged physiological functions. The next two decades will see an explosion of automated mechatronic systems infiltrating our lives more and more every year - improving our quality of life and our knowledge of the world and universe we live in.

What do Mechatronics Engineers do?

Mechatronics combines mechanical, electrical and software engineering in the design, development and control of diverse systems used in a range of industries including manufacturing, medicine and the service industries. Examples of mechatronic systems include aircraft, dishwashers, motor vehicles, automated manufacturing plants, medical and surgical devices and systems, robots of all types, many toys, artificial organs and many others. Mechatronics engineers are therefore involved in almost every possible industry at levels from applications development to manufacturing to advanced research.

Where do Mechatronics Engineers work?

Graduates with a Mechatronics degree can take up careers in a wide spectrum of industries including robotics, aerospace, chemical, defence and automotive and manufacturing where complex software plays a major role, as well as in businesses that require extensive computer support, such as banking and commerce. Contributions can be made to these industries in a variety of roles including design engineer, software engineer, project planner, product designer and project manager.