In the age where unemployment is at an all time high, what you study now has never been so important towards entering the job market. In an era where industrialisation is the buzz word, how to enter that revolution could be a pipe dream if you don’t have the right skills, qualification and experience. First things first, let’s start with the course that is making waves in both the automotive and the industrial sectors and that’s Mechatronics.
Mechatronics, also called mechatronics engineering, is noted by Wikipedia an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on the integration of mechanical, electronic and electrical engineering systems, and also includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer science, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering. As technology advances over time, various subfields of engineering have succeeded in both adapting and multiplying. The intention of mechatronics is to produce a design solution that unifies each of these various subfields. Originally, the field of mechatronics was intended to be nothing more than a combination of mechanics and electronics, hence the name being a portmanteau of mechanics and electronics; however, as the complexity of technical systems continued to evolve, the definition had been broadened to include more technical areas.
Recently in Mzansi, we have witnessed billions being invested by automotive manufacturers in the assembly and production of cars. This puts a need for skills in the engineering and robotics field. Its easy to see the investment made in Mzansi and isolate Mechatronics to being an opportunity locally but it’s also a very highly sought after skill internationally.
To study Mechatronics, these are the generic entry requirements or subjects that students need to have done in High School:
- Pure Mathematics
- Physical Science
There are other ways to entry especially people with prior work experience (Recognition of Prior Learning) in a similar field or people who have studied related courses in TVET institutions (mostly consider NQF Level 1 Qualification). Most of the Mechatronics Courses at Higher Education Institutions have a mix of the following courses:
- Electrical Engineering
- Hydraulics Engineering
- Analogue Circuit
- Design and installation of control systems
- Machine Communications and Technology
- Remote (online) engineering
- Manual and Machine Manufacturing
Most of the courses range from a 1 year to a 5 year qualification. Matriculants and people already in the field are the targeted individuals for enrolment.
Graduates of Mechatronic Courses may find roles as:
- Robotics technician
- Automation technician
- Mechatronics technician
- Manufacturing automation technician
- Control system design/troubleshooting technician
- Process control technician
- Electronics design technician
- Instrumentation technician
MERSETA is the skills SETA that is responsible for skills development in the Manufacturing and Engineering sector with annual grant funding given to Training Institutions that also provide skilling in Mechatronics. It is ideal to make contact with MERSETA to get clarity on which Training Institutions they have provided funding to in the current or past financial grant funding cycles. The benefit of this route is that the course costs are usually partially or fully funded by MERSETA and the students who are enrolled under this way also qualify for stipends to cover their travel and boarding costs.
Other institutions that offer these courses but at Tuition cost to the student. Also take note that some of these institutions do have NSFAS support (Best to make contact with their enrolment office to confirm this).
- University of Cape Town – Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mechatronics.
- Tshwane University of Technology – Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechatronic Engineering
- UNISA – National Diploma : Engineering : Electrical
- Nelson Mandela University – Mechatronics Engineering
- University of Pretoria – Mechatronics
For more on institutions in your area that provide Mechatronics courses, please Google the Courses in your nearest Higher Education Learning Institution.