16 August 2001 Mechatronics: the future of mechanical engineering; past, present, and a vision for the future
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Mechatronics is the synergistic integration of precision mechanical engineering, electronics, computational hardware and software in the design of products and processes. Mechatronics, the term coined in Japan in the '70s, has evolved to symbolize what mechanical design engineers do today worldwide. The revolutionary introduction of the microprocessor (or microcontroller) in the early '80s and ever increasing performance-cost ratio has changed the paradigm of mechanical design forever, and has broadened the original definition of mechatronics to include intelligent control and autonomous decision-making. Today, increasing number of new products is being developed at the intersection between traditional disciplines of Engineering, and Computer and Material Sciences. New developments in these traditional disciplines are being absorbed into mechatronics design at an ever-increasing pace. In this paper, a brief history of mechatronics, and several examples of this rapid adaptation of technologies into product design is presented. With the ongoing information technology revolution, especially in wireless communication, smart sensors design (enabled by MEMS technology), and embedded systems engineering, mechatronics design is going through another step change in capabilities and scope. The implications of these developments in mechatronics design in the near future are discussed. Finally, deficiencies in our engineering curriculum to address the needs of the industry to cope up with these rapid changes, and proposed remedies, will also be discussed.
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M. K. Ramasubramanian, M. K. Ramasubramanian, "Mechatronics: the future of mechanical engineering; past, present, and a vision for the future", Proc. SPIE 4334, Smart Structures and Materials 2001: Smart Electronics and MEMS, (16 August 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.436613; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.436613


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