September 7, 2016

The convergence of mechanical and electronic engineering, coupled with embedded software, has produced an engineering discipline called mechatronics.  The “official” definition of mechatronics is as follows:

A multidisciplinary field of science that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer science, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering”.

Technical systems have become more and more complex, requiring multiple disciplines for accomplishment of product designs that satisfy the needs of consumers and industrial markets.  If you read the technical literature, you have run across the phrase “the internet of things” or IoT. IoT is the interworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, airplanes, consumer appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity enabling these devices and objects to collect and exchange data.

If I may, let’s now take a look at several fascinating numbers:

  • The world-wide public cloud services market is projected to grow 16.5% in 2016 to a total of $204 billion. This is up from $175 billion in 2015.  The world-wide X86 server virtualization market is expected to reach $5.6 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.7% from 2015 (Gartner, Inc.)
  • In July of this year, Apple announced it had recently sold its billionth iPhone since introduction in 2007.
  • The number of mobility devices managed from 2014 to 2015 increased 72%. (Citrix, “7 Enterprise Mobility Statistics You Should Know.”
  • 58% of consumers would consider eventually owning/riding in an autonomous automobile. (Deloitte 2015 Global Mobile Consumer Survey.)
  • The number of connected devices world-wide will rise from 15 billion today to 50 billion by 2020. (Cisco/DHL Trend Report, April 2015)
  • By 2020, 90% of cars will be online, compared with just 2% in 2012. (Telefonica, Connected Car Report 2013)
  • Nearly half (48%) of consumers check their phones up to 25 times per day. (Deloitte 2015 Global Mobile Survey)
  • The US mobile worker population will increase from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020. (IDC, “US Mobile Worker Forecast,2015-2020.)
  • Mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total U.S. workforce. (IDC,” U.S. Mobile Worker Forecast, 2015-2020.)
  • 86% of those ages 18-29 have a smartphone. 83% of those ages 30-49 have a smartphone. 87% if these percentages are for those living in households earning $75,000 and up.

To keep pace with the design of complex, connected products requires engineers from different disciplines working closely together.  These engineers will be from different disciplines and will coordinate on design, simulation, prototyping and testing.  It also requires real-time input from co-workers outside engineering departments. For this reason, our schools and universities MUST alter their teaching methods to attract and train individuals capable of working to bring the U.S. population these marvelous advances in technology.  This not only means in the product development area but in manufacturing also.  Many companies see technology as a means to redefine what it means to be a manufacturer.  Thanks to the growing popularity of IoT in industrial and consumer products, design complexity shown no signs of slowing.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

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