What is mechatronics engineering?
Mechatronics engineering is the design of computer-controlled electromechanical systems. It can be viewed as 'modern mechanical engineering design' in the sense that the design of the mechanical system must be performed together with that of the electrical/electronic and computer control aspects that will comprise the complete system.
Some examples of mechatronic systems include: a CD or DVD player; a computer hard disc drive; a video cassette recorder (VCR); a fly-by-wire aircraft control system; and an anti-lock braking system (ABS). Each of these products is essentially mechanical in nature, but could not function without the integral design of the electrical and computer control systems that are critical to their operation.
Mechatronics engineering undergraduate program
The mechatronics program at the University of Waterloo is administered by the department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering. The mechatronics program differs very significantly from the mechanical engineering program in the courses that students take.
Half of the second and third year courses in mechatronics are provided by the systems design engineering and electrical and computer engineering departments. This makes the mechatronics program ideal for students who prefer a broad, interdisciplinary engineering education that is highly integrated and focussed.
Today, the University of Waterloo's mechatronics program is unmatched in terms of content and integration. Introduced with an initial cohort of 100 students, the program is highly competitive. Due to the volume of applications and demand, the program now admits an additional 45 students - a change made in September 2014.
Students are required to participate in the work/study (co-op) program, which entails completing five work terms in industry. The degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Mechatronics Engineering, is accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).
The opportunity to design a new engineering program does not come often. A group of professors from Mechanical Engineering, Systems Design Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering, set out to design the 'ideal' Mechatronics curriculum in 2000. With a virtual clean slate, a set of courses was selected from the three engineering departments that would provide students with the desired combination of skills. Whenever the contents of an existing course did not meet the desired requirements, a new course was designed. After much effort, we now feel that we have a program that is unmatched in terms of content and integration. When viewing the curriculum, the courses designated as MTE are the newly designed courses specific to the Mechatronics program; ME courses are from the Mechanical Engineering program, ECE courses are from the Electrical & Computer Engineering program, and SYDE courses are from the Systems Design Engineering program.