As we enter the twenty-first century, social, cultural, economic and political forces will continue to influence technological innovation. The demand for innovative products will drive the need for more engineers with multidisciplinary skills around the globe. So what is multidisciplinary engineering and what are the career opportunities for a graduate in this field?

Multidisciplinary engineering

Engineering education has changed in recent years to prepare graduates for the challenges in the twenty-first century, with many courses incorporating interdisciplinary learning. Multidisciplinary engineering degrees are graduate programs designed for students who want to pursue a career in this field and have career goals in more than one of the traditional disciplines such as civil, mechanical and chemical.

The growing need for multidisciplinary engineers has fueled the emergence of educational programs such as mechatronics. A Mechatronics Engineering degree is a multidisciplinary field of study that combines mechanical, electronics, computer and software. Students are equipped with skills such as leadership, project management communication and research. The interdisciplinary nature of the program means that mechatronics graduates have the knowledge and skills to handle a variety of tasks. This extra knowledge also gives these graduates an edge over mechanical or electrical graduates.

Multidisciplinary Engineering
Image by Luftphilla and Saint Louise University, used under the Creative Commons license.

Career opportunities

Multidisciplinary engineers are highly valued and highly paid in the industry. For example, mechatronics graduates can work in a variety of industries, including defense, artificial intelligence, aerospace, manufacturing, research and developments, government, mining and forestry, automotive and entertainment. There is also demand for mechatronics graduates in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and robotics.

Mechatronics engineers are involved in the research, design, improvement, testing, implementation and maintenance of high-tech products and sales and marketing of products. They are also required to conduct research into the feasibility, assess the safety and study the cost and benefit of new equipment or systems. Similar to all engineers, mechatronics engineers collaborate extensively with people across different disciplines.

This approach to studying mechatronics also enables mechatronic engineers to have great opportunities for progression to jobs with greater responsibilities. They are equipped with the vital management skills to take leadership positions or become entrepreneurs.

The increase in demand for novel products and challenging environment call for the need of engineers to have a wide knowledge in different disciplines, practice across a variety of disciplines and acquire a range of soft skills such as strong analytical, communication, management and leadership skills.