If mechatronics wasn’t difficult enough to define (concisely), try and get a degree in it! Interestingly, with the increased attention that mechatronics is receiving around the globe there are established degree programs in Europe and Australia. Some schools in the US are picking up on the trend. The electric car races, Darpa Challenge and battling robot competitions, with some very hefty cash prizes, have stimulated interest from thousands of participants and spectators alike.
The latest innovation is the partnering of schools, automation equipment suppliers and funding from the Department of Labor. DOL (Department of Labor) estimates that 10 million technical factory jobs could go unfilled by the year 2020 without an aggressive effort to train students and teachers. The assessment of American labor’s capability to deal with emerging technology trends on the factory floor has lead DOL to contribute millions of dollars in cooperation with schools and equipment companies to make state-of-the-art training available on a large scale.
Festo Corporation is partnering with community colleges and universities around the US to provide sophisticated training simulation equipment in pneumatics and control, hydraulics, programmable controls, sensors and electric actuators. These systems are designed to provide students with real-world experience in robotics and complex material handling applications that will impart the kinds of skills needed in the emerging technical markets.
These trends lead to increased American competitiveness in world markets. Let’s hope it continues.