Mechanical and electrical systems are growing in numbers, being used by everyone and are getting more complicated each day. So, when one stops, it’s crucial to have it up and running quickly. That’s when companies might turn to a Mechatronics technician.
“Traditionally, for decades, if a system broke down, machine repair would assess the problem,” said Diane Lobsiger-Braden, an electrical instructor in the Technical, Trades and Manufacturing Division at Delta College. “They’d look at it and say, ‘I don’t think it’s machine repair,’ and they’d call an electrician. Then, the electrician would say, ‘No, it’s machine repair.’ It was a constant back and forth argument,” Lobsiger-Braden said. “A Mechatronics technician would know what the problem is and either fix it themselves or get the trade out that needs to work on the problem.”
Mechatronics technicians are required to know the entire system, streamlining the repair process. They not only troubleshoot the problem, they are often involved in the repair.
The name Mechatronics stems from mechanics and electronics. It involves the integration of the whole structure needed to make an entire system work, merging the principles of electrical, mechanical, computer and industrial engineering.
Mechatronics is a trade upon itself, so a technician doesn’t replace electricians or someone in machine repair.
“It’s a blending of those skills,” said Harvey Schneider, the Skilled Trades Manager at Delta.” When a highly complex automated process stops working, a Mechatronics technician can go out there and go, ‘where did it fail?’
“And, it’s not the guy that comes out that’s got an oil rag hanging out of one pocket and an adjustable wrench in the other hand,” he said. “It’s the guy that brings his laptop out, plugs into the system and starts running some diagnostic tests to figure out where the problems are.”
A Mechatronics certificate or associate’s degree could lead to a job or an apprentice job that would be recognized by the Department of Labor and eventually lead to a Journeyman’s card.
Companies interested in sending workers through the program can customize it to fit their needs.
“They take our standard curriculum from the advanced certificate and say ‘everything matches up here,’ ” Schneider said. “But for some reason we don’t want them to have programmable logic 2 A/B Controllers. That doesn’t fit our needs. So they can take that out.”
Lobsiger-Braden said many four-year universities don’t have the programmable logic controllers and the resources that Delta can offer.
“If they really want to be a sound engineer,” she said, “I think it would be an awesome path. If you want to get into controls, this is where it’s at.”
TTM Division Chair Michael Finelli said now that the curriculum is in place for Mechatronics, it will be built to be more robust and will grow, as many of the other classes in the division are tied together. He added that it would make students more marketable to employers.
“To be able to go to a plant with an engineering degree, but to say I also have this background in mechatronics,” Finelli said, “your resume is going to rise to the top of the pile.”
Delta offers a Mechatronic Associates Degree in Applied Science
, and Advanced Certificate
and a Skilled Trades Apprenticeship
. If you have additional questions about the Mechatronics program, call Diane Lobsiger-Braden at 989-686-9441. For information on apprenticeships, contact Harvey Schneider at 989-686-9476.