Mechatronics design is a holistic engineering approach to designing electromechanical equipment and machinery. Normally, equipment is designed as a series of separate systems, such as mechanical, electrical, electronic and computer systems. Often these systems are made of generic components that are suitable for any similar type of machine or even dissimilar types. In mechatronics design, the systems are not considered separate but part of the whole machine and are integrated into each other with each component designed to work optimally with all of the other components in that specific machine. In this way, mechatronics design can produce very efficient equipment to perform nearly any task optimally.
There are many different principles that are attributed to mechatronics design, and they vary from industry to industry, because the specific equipment needs for every industry vary. One prevailing principle of mechatronics design, however, is the concept of designing all components in a machine with an eye toward fulfilling the overall end purpose of the machine instead of just that of the individual component. In this way, one component is not compromised in its performance to compensate for another component. For example, all components in a machine designed to work in or with water would be designed to be waterproof.
The education of engineers is also an important factor when conceiving new equipment from a mechatronics design perspective. Most engineers specialize in a single area of expertise or discipline, such as electrical or mechanical engineering. To pursue a true mechatronics design, an engineer needs to be familiar with all aspects of the machine, from the composition of the materials with which it is to be built to the computers and programming that will be used to control the machine. With engineers educated in all aspects of a given machine’s construction and operation, a host of new solutions to old problems — such as chemical solutions to computer problems or vice versa — becomes available with mechatronics design.
As a direct result of the issues involved with the proper engineering of machines and equipment under the mechatronics design concept, many equipment manufacturers are seeking multi-disciplined engineers with practical experience in a number of different fields. There are few such engineers available. This has created new fields in engineering and education. Many colleges and universities are now working with various industries to educate and train new types of design engineers. These engineers do not receive degrees in a single traditional discipline but, instead, their degrees reflect their ability to work with all disciplines required by a given industry.