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Mechatronics Technology
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  The Mechatronics Technology Degree Program is designed for the student who wishes to prepare for a career as a Mechatronics technician/electrician. The program provides learning opportunities that introduce, develop and reinforce academic and technical knowledge, skill, and attitudes required for job acquisition, retention, and advancement. Additionally, the program provides opportunities to retrain or upgrade present knowledge and skill. The Degree program teaches skills in Mechatronics Technology providing background skills in several areas of industrial maintenance including electronics, industrial wiring, motors, controls, PLC's, instrumentation, fluid power, mechanical, pumps and piping, and computers. Graduates of the program receive a Mechatronics Technology Degree that qualifies them for employment as industrial electricians or Mechatronics technicians.  
Program Requirements  
 
 

Sample Graduation Plans
 
 
 
 
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Significant Points [+]

  • Most workers will be employed in manufacturing or industrial maintenance jobs.
  • Maintenance workers learn on the job, industrial machinery technicians usually need some education after high school, and mechatronic technicians typically learn through formal apprenticeship programs and post high school education.
  • Applicants with broad skills in electro-mechanical repair, maintenance and PLCs should have favorable job prospects.



  • Program Instructors [+]




    Nature of the Work [+]

    Imagine an automobile assembly line: a large conveyor system moves unfinished automobiles down the line, giant robotic welding arms bond the different body panels together, hydraulic lifts move the motor into the body of the car, and giant presses stamp body parts from flat sheets of steel. All complex machines need workers to install them and service them to make sure they function properly. Assembling and setting up these machines on the factory floor are the job of mechatronic technicians and entry level technicians who maintain and repair these machines.

    Assembly of a machine currently takes a few days. Aside from assembly, technicians are also involved in major repairs and disassembly of machines. If a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery, it can sell or trade-in old equipment. The breaking down of a machine is normally just as complicated as assembling it; all parts must be carefully taken apart, categorized and packaged for shipping.

    Keeping machines in good working order is the primary responsibility of maintenance technicians, also called industrial maintenance technicians or mechatronics technicians. To do this effectively, these workers must be able to detect minor problems and correct them before they become larger problems. Mechatronics technicians use technical manuals, their understanding of the equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of the problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, the technician must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Technicians often need years of training and experience to fully diagnose all problems, but computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques provide aid in determining the nature of the problem.

    After diagnosing the problem, the mechatronics technician may disassemble the equipment to repair or replace the necessary parts. Increasingly, technicians are expected to have the electrical, electronics, PLC and computer programming skills to repair sophisticated equipment on their own. Once a repair is made, technicians perform tests to ensure that the machine is running smoothly. Primary responsibilities of mechatronics technicians also include preventive maintenance; for example, they adjust and calibrate automated manufacturing equipment, such as industrial robots.

    The most basic maintenance and repair tasks are performed by entry level technicians. These employees are responsible for cleaning and lubricating machinery, performing basic diagnostic tests, checking performance, and testing damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary. In carrying out these tasks, entry level technicians must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. Entry level technicians may perform minor repairs, but major repairs generally are left to mechatronics technicians.

    Mechatronics technicians and entry level technicians use a variety of tools to perform repairs and preventive maintenance. When an automated process isn’t working properly, a mechatronic technical will need to diagnose and repair computer programs, computers, electrical systems, mechanical devices and/or networking equipment. They may use hand tools to ensure a motor functions properly, a hydraulic system pumps fluid correctly, a programmable logic controller (PLC) operates according to specifications or a robot is performing its required task. Technicians use catalogs to order replacement parts and often follow blueprints, technical manuals, engineering specifications and programs to maintain and fix equipment. By keeping complete and up-to-date records, technicians try to anticipate trouble and service equipment before factory production is interrupted.



    Work Environment [+]

    In production facilities, mechatronics technicians are exposed to working on machines, electrical systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), robots and computer equipment. These technicians are around computer, electrical and mechanical equipment that requires them to be careful and safe. In electro-mechanical work environments, workers must be careful of heavy equipment while not creating problems for computerized equipment. They also may work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery, which exposes them to additional hazards. To avoid injuries, technicians must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-tipped shoes, hearing protectors, and belts. To avoid injuries from electrical systems or computerized equipment, technicians must wear safety equipment to prevent them from electrical shock while being sure they don’t damage any of the computerized equipment.

    Because factories and other facilities cannot afford to have industrial machinery out of service for long periods, mechatronics technicians may be on call or assigned to work nights or on weekends. A critical part of this job is ensuring that all equipment runs when needed, which may be 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This requires mechatronics technicians to be called in whenever equipment needs to be repaired, replaced or serviced.



    Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement [+]

    Mechatronics technicians need some education after high school plus experience working on specific machines, electrical systems, control systems (PLCs), robotics and computer networks before they can be considered a full-fledged technician. Machinery maintenance technicians can usually get a job with little more than a high school diploma or its equivalent; most workers learn on the job.

    Education and training. All technician positions generally require a high school diploma, GED, or its equivalent. However, employers increasingly prefer to hire maintenance workers with some training in mechatronics technology. Employers also prefer to hire those who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, or electronics.

    Many mechatronics technicians enter the occupation through an apprenticeship program that typically lasts about 4 years. Apprenticeships can be sponsored by local union chapters, employers, and/or the State labor department. Training in these apprenticeships involves a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning. Jobseekers can apply for union apprenticeships, and qualified applicants may begin training in local training facilities and factories.

    Mechatronics technicians usually need a year or more of formal education and training after high school to learn the growing range of mechanical and technical skills that they need. While technicians used to specialize in one area, such as hydraulics or electronics, many factories now require every mechatronics technician needs to have knowledge of electricity, electronics, hydraulics, computer programming, PLCs and robotics.

    Workers can get this training in a number of different ways. A 2-year associate degree program in mechatronics technology provides good preparation. Other technicians may start as helpers or in other factory jobs and learn the skills of the trade informally and by taking courses offered through their employer. It is common for experienced production workers to move into maintenance positions if they show good mechanical abilities. Employers may offer on-site classroom training or send workers to local technical schools while they receive on-the-job training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, electronics, computer training, machine operation and networking. In addition to classroom training, it is important that technicians train on the specific machines they will repair. They can get this training on the job, through dealer or manufacturer's representatives, or in a classroom. Technicians typically receive on-the-job training lasting a few months to a year to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. This training may be offered by experienced workers, professional trainers, or representatives of equipment manufacturers.

    Other qualifications. Other qualifications. Mechatronics technicians must have good problem-solving abilities, as it is important for them to be able to discover the cause of a problem to repair it. Mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity are also important. Good reading comprehension is necessary to understand the technical manuals of a wide range of machines and good communications skills are also essential in order for technicians and maintenance workers to understand the needs of other workers and managers. In addition, good physical conditioning and agility are necessary because repairers sometimes have to lift heavy objects or climb to reach equipment.

    Certification and advancement. Certification and advancement. Opportunities for advancement vary by specialty. Machinery maintenance workers, if they take classes and gain additional skills, may advance to industrial machinery mechanic or supervisor. Industrial machinery technicians also advance by working with more complicated equipment and gaining additional repair skills. The most highly skilled repairers can be promoted to supervisor or mechatronics technician. Experienced mechatronics technicians can advance into team leading roles.



    Job Outlook [+]

    Employment is projected to grow and applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects.

    Employment change. Employment of mechatronics technicians is expected to grow from 2015 through 2030. The increased use of machinery in manufacturing will require more mechatronics technicians to install this equipment, more technicians to keep it in good working order and more technicians to program it to function as required.



       
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