Your Gateway to the Engineering World

Published by Afterschool.my on Jul 04, 2024, 04:59 pm

Mechatronic engineering equips students with the knowledge and skills which are essential for success in the future.

The engineering world is an intersection of disciplines where boundaries of possibility are continually pushed. 

One such intersection between mechanical, electronics, computing and control system engineering has created an innovative field named, “Mechatronics”.

Mechatronic engineering is a branch of engineering that makes any existing systems smarter. 

With artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation elements, mechatronic engineering equips students with the knowledge and skills which are essential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) and its core pillars such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies. 

A diploma in mechatronic engineering offers a formidable entry point for those eager to begin their engineering careers.

This field allows individuals to earn a decent income while gaining practical skills specific to mechatronics and pursuing a bachelor’s degree while working. 

Pathway for school leavers

For SPM leavers, especially those who need to support their families, a seven-semester Diploma in Mechatronic Engineering at Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) provides a practical and focused pathway. 

This programme allows students to gain foundational knowledge and hands-on skills in this discipline upon completing secondary education. 

APU’s School of Engineering (SoE) head Assoc Prof Dr Siva Kumar Sivanesan explains that while a four-year bachelor’s degree offers comprehensive education to solve “complex problems”, the diploma programme trains secondary school leavers to solve “well-defined problems”.

“A good gauge to see if the problem is well-defined or complex would be to see the number of people within a larger society that stands to benefit from the proposed solution,” he says. 

The intersection between mechanical, electronics, computing and control system engineering has created an innovative field named, ‘Mechatronics’.

Understanding mechatronics

Mechatronics is a branch of engineering that enhances existing systems to be smarter, including industrial automation, robotics, automated vehicles and smart appliances. 

Mechatronic engineering shares similarities with mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering focuses on designing components, machines, systems and processes using principles of motion, energy and force. 

However, as technology advances and systems become more complex, elements of electronics engineering, software engineering, electrical engineering and robotics have been incorporated into mechanical engineering solutions. 

“While mechanical engineers excel in purely mechanical aspects, mechatronics specialists possess knowledge spanning mechanical, software, electronics and electrical components.

“This holistic understanding enables them to propose solutions beyond traditional mechanical paradigms,” says Siva. 

Career path and educational opportunities

The Diploma in Mechatronic Engineering programme offered by APU equips students with a comprehensive understanding of engineering. 

It focuses on foundational courses covering fundamental engineering principles such as mathematics, design thinking and materials science, with exposure to top-notch facilities like the Robotics lab, PLC Controls lab and Pneumatics and Automation lab.

“To start a successful engineering career, a four-year bachelor’s degree is needed. However, one can break into mechatronics with just a seven-semester diploma after getting their SPM results,” says Siva. 

“They can then continue to earn a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree while working and progressing in their career.”

The Asia Pacific Centre of Robotics Engineering (APCoRE) enables engineering students to engage with advanced research work on robotics or to participate in competitions.

Interdisciplinary and practical learning 

Diploma students can study modules offered to degree programme students such as Programming with Python, Engineering Software and Applications, Digital Electronics and Industrial Automation. 

They will receive maximum credit exemptions for equivalent modules when pursuing a bachelor’s degree. 

Essential components of the programme include interdisciplinary courses, project-based learning, industry exposure, holistic problem-solving, sustainability and soft skills development. 

This multifaceted approach ensures graduates possess technical expertise and the ability to address real-world challenges holistically. 

Career readiness and professional development

To ensure graduates are career-ready, APU’s SoE emphasises technical competence, industry exposure, soft skills development, networking, resume building, a lifelong learning mindset and ethics. 

By addressing these aspects, graduates can confidently embark on successful careers.

Diploma graduates in Mechatronic Engineering also benefit beyond professional registration with the Board of Engineers Malaysia, a signatory of the Dublin Accord. 

The diploma equips graduates with mechanical engineering, electronics and computer technology knowledge, preparing them for a diverse and interconnected world.

“Overall, diploma graduates of the Mechatronic Engineering programme will emerge with a strong foundation, practical skills and a holistic understanding of the engineering approach, positioning them well for rewarding career opportunities,” says Siva.

SoE facilities 

The Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering with Honours programme and other engineering programmes offered at APU come with first-class engineering teaching facilities, including the Asia Pacific Centre of Robotics Engineering (APCoRE), which was designed to put theory into practice.

Outputs from APCoRE have a potential impact on the medical, retail and service sectors. A notable success story at APCoRE is a robotic exoskeleton that improves ambulation and enhances mobility for individuals with various neurological disabilities.

Another project at SoE is the Virtual Operated Robotic Arm, which combines VR technology and engineering for multiple uses. 

The centre has also delved into Additive Layer Manufacturing projects by integrating computer-aided design software and 3D object printers or scanners. This technology allows for the precise deposition of materials, layer upon layer, in exact geometric shapes.

Engineering degree programmes are dual awards by APU and De Montfort University (DMU), UK. 

Under this scheme, students receive two degree certificates and transcripts upon graduation – a BEng from APU, Malaysia and an MEng from DMU, UK. 

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