Alright, so the burning question y’all want answered – why did I end up choosing mechatronics? (For those of you who haven’t read my first post, I spent the majority of the second half of Part I deciding between mechanical and mechatronics. What made me lean towards the “tronics” side of the fence?)
Genuinely, a part of it is because I’m indecisive. I didn’t yet have my heart set on any single spec (or in my case, I wasn’t sure I wanted to 100% commit to mechanical). I’m also the type of person who gets bored easily, needing a little variety (spice!) in my life to keep things interesting. Mechatronics provides just that: a wonderful mix of engineering chaos, and an opportunity to explore several disciplines in a single degree.
Despite ENGGEN 121 being my worst paper, I weirdly still enjoyed the concepts taught, and the ongoing interest I held from high school pulled through. For a while, I was somewhat set on mechanical, before I properly understood what mechatronics was. If I’m honest, ELECTENG 101 did my head in a little, but the potential it has to do cool stuff interested me enough to tolerate it. If you’re currently getting put off by this course and the electricity you learnt in high school – I promise, it gets better. In my personal and probably flawed opinion, what you learn in those classes is only one aspect of electrical and control systems. I also find it to be a lot cooler doing the hands on stuff, watching the magic happen.
And don’t forget about software! Coding was new to me in Part I, and although it didn’t grab me enough to want to major in it, I found it cool enough to want to keep it in my degree. Particularly, the ability to apply and combine it with mechanical systems (with a dash of electricity!) is what intrigues me. Just a heads up, second year is very mechanical heavy, sharing seven courses with our fellow mech students. Third year explores more control systems, software, actuators and circuits (the “tronics” side).
You bring all these skills together and you have the opportunity to work on smart technology, control systems, automation and robotics. Not only is that stuff pretty damn cool, but it’s also a huge upcoming industry with a lot of potential for innovation. Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in that?
It also gives me the opportunity to explore the more creative and innovative side of myself – engineering isn’t all calculators and calculus! (That was a misconception I had about engineering in general back in high school.) One of the things I love about mechatronics is that it gives me the skills to build all sorts of dumb stuff, and see my random creations come to life. If you get the chance, spend some time in the Maker Space creating whatever crazy ideas come to mind!
Following on from random creations, I’d recommend getting involved in a side project if you’ve got the time. Whether you join FSAE, the Auckland Programme for Space Systems (aka APSS – if you’re also a space nerd, would recommend!) or do something on your own, these projects provide valuable skills you don’t get in your courses, shows you’ve taken initiative, and gives you something to talk about in interviews and applications. If you’ve taken the extra step to be part of executive committees and/or take on leadership positions, I’d also strongly recommend applying for the Dean’s Leadership Programme. I’ve gained so much from it in terms of soft skills, networking and meeting some really cool people, in addition to the workshops, professional development seminars and sessions with industry leaders. If you’ve got any questions about DLP, space nerd stuff, exec roles or extracurriculars – hit me up! (Alternatively, if you wanna grab a coffee and complain about life, I’m down for that too.)
See ya in the next one!