The course of studies in Mechatronics (MEC)
Mechatronics is a multi-disciplinary field of studies in the engineering sciences. It consists of mechanical engineering, precision engineering, electrical engineering and information technology. It addresses the design and production of new, integrated, electro-mechanical systems with automated and intelligent functions.
It is impossible to imagine our nowadays world without mechatronics, regardless of whether mechatronic systems make driving a car easier and more safe by means of active chassis control or safety measures such as anti-lock and anti-skid systems or an electronic stability program, or whether they support fast-moving machine parts in the form of active magnetic bearings or whether they are produced in the millions as tiny grippers or pumps on a small silicon disc as micro-mechatronic devices.
These systems measure signals by means of sensors, process these signal by means of embedded micro-computers and interact with the process by means of electro-mechanic, pneumatic or hydraulic actuators. The functionalities are not only defined by the fundamental mechanic design, but also by the real-time software-embedded control algorithms. Thus, mechatronics demands a broad scope in the education, ranging from the fundamentals of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering up to the applied computer science and methods of computational intelligence.
The “MIT Technology Review” has identified Mechatronics as one of the top ten emerging technologies that will have a lasting influence on our lives and our world.
The interdisciplinary character of Mechatronics requires an entirely new – namely parallel – education in electrical engineering and information technology, mechanical engineering as well as computer science. TU Darmstadt has acknowledged this need by establishing a new, consecutive Bachelor/Master program in mechatronics.
Research at the pulse of time with high practical relevance
The Bachelor program in Mechatronics and even more the Master program have a strong research orientation and are carried by high-research institutions. While the fundamental lectures are rather theoretically oriented, the more application-related elective lectures benefit strongly from the intensive research activities. Professors report also about current research projects in the appropriate lectures. Furthermore, students are integrated actively in the research of the corresponding institutes when they work on their Bachelor or Master thesis.
The institutes involved in the study programs maintain intensive contacts with other research institutions in Germany and abroad. The TU Darmstadt offers many exchange programs in the European and non-European region, allowing students to spend a section of their studies at a foreign University and hence further develop their language skills and intercultural competence.
Perfect prospects on the job market
In the recent years, the work of engineers has shifted away from the development of new technical components and equipment, focusing more on the design, implementation and integration of complex systems of hardware and software. This trend is also witnessed by the VDE Ingenieurstudie 2005.
Innovations are no longer primarily achieved by an improvement of the purely electro-mechanical design but by the implementation of new features which are made possible by integrating information processing units. This requires engineers that on the one hand have a high degree of process-specific knowledge, but can also work on the system and software level on the other hand.
In the next 5 to 10 years, roughly 80 % of all German companies expect a shortage of engineering applicants according to a study of ZVEI. The German job market therefore exhibits an enormous shortage of engineers. In addition to the far too low number of prospective students, the shortage is exacerbated by the fact that many engineering and automotive companies are creating more and more added value by mechatronic functions, e.g. in the form of intelligent assistance systems, and hence build up their own research areas. Every year, lots of new jobs are created in the automotive industry. As mentioned above 90 % of all innovations are determined by Mechatronics, electronics and intelligent information processing.