Regardless of the degree name, the multidisciplinary person will be more useful than the specialist in many areas. It's similar to job descriptions. There are several main jobs listed, but they always seem to end with the phrase "other duties as assigned." Starting from the basics and moving toward the specifics is a proven methodology. As when building a house, the general contractor is running the show. There may be specialists to dig foundations, lay block, pour concrete, frame, glaze, finish sheetrock, install plumbing, run wiring, and shingle the roof, but the general ties it all together.
I think even if universities and colleges don't formally label a program as a mechatronics degree, you're going to see a lot more university curriculum reflect the new (and not so new) reality of what Alex has aptly labeled "an interdisciplinary world."
I'm down with this idea, Jon. As I noted in "Are You an Interdisciplinary Engineer?," narrow specialists are on the wane. They're being replaced by generalist engineers who can work comfortably across the boundaries of hardware, software, and embedded. The rise of a Mechantronics degree reflects this reality.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.