The rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) sees many industries integrating advanced computing systems, artificial intelligence and sensors and actuators in their products to increase efficiency. Take Tesla for instance — the first zero-emission car shook the transportation industry. Meanwhile, people were impressed to see the Boston Dynamics’ robot dog dancing with K-pop sensation BTS.
Due to technological advancement, it’s no surprise that the engineering industry demands talents who possess knowledge from multidisciplinary fields such as mechanical, electrical, electronics, software and computing with a combination of robotics, automatics, digital informatics and telecommunication systems.
APU offers specialised engineering degree in mechatronic
Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) offers a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronic Engineering with an honours degree programme — specially designed to provide future engineers with an edge towards adoption of the latest technologies in line with the needs and challenges of IR4.0.
Mechatronic engineering combines robotics and automation which allow students to fully immerse in the robotics and automation practice. Plus, APU students who aren’t taking this engineering specialisation will also have the opportunity to experience the two areas as part of the common core modules. For instance, the robotics and automation related modules are both offered in electrical and electronics engineering, telecommunication and computer engineering.
According to Assoc Prof Dr Thang Ka Fei, Head of APU School of Engineering, mechatronic engineering covers four areas which are mechanical, electronics, computing and control. He added that APU’s laboratories are well equipped with robotics and automation machineries that will aid students with their projects.
“Additionally, APU’s well-equipped laboratories on robotics and automation, such as power system lab, robotics lab, PLC controls lab, pneumatics and automation lab, enable students to complete hands-on assignments and develop their final year project,” he shared.
To boot, APU’s partnership with De Montfort University (DMU) awards all engineering programmes with a dual award where you’ll receive two degree certificates and transcripts upon graduation — a BEng from APU (Malaysia) and an MEng from DMU (UK). In addition, DMU also awards an MEng award for all other APU engineering programmes.
APCoRE — pioneering mechatronics success
The Mechatronic Engineering programme at APU has been accredited by the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) under the Washington Accord. The curriculum is also packed with the required mechanical engineering core subjects that’s aligned with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology/ Engineering Accreditation Commission (ABET/ EAC) standards.
With plans to enable students to put engineering theory into practice, APU’s deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam and senior lecturer Suresh Gobee designed the Asia Pacific Centre of Robotics Engineering (APCoRE) in 2013 to nurture talents. This way, students can develop prototypes and projects with the same components, systems and technology that today’s professionals are working on in their respective fields.
In fact, projects from APCoRe have the potential to impact medical, retail and service sectors greatly. Some great outcomes from APCoRe include a robotic exoskeleton to enhance mobility for individuals with neurological disabilities, a virtual robotic arm that combines VR technology with engineering, and APU’s very own humanoid that served as a guest ambassador at the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) annual dinner launch.
In addition, thanks to the APCoRE team, APU student members and a joint collaboration with the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE-UK), APU has driven STEM education by introducing robotics and engineering at 78 national schools across Malaysia between 2014 and 2019.
Assoc Prof Thang highlighted that APCoRE is open and accessible to all APU students, regardless of their study programmes, fields and levels as long as they have an active interest in robotics. He stated that the centre is crucial to nurture future engineers.
“This centre is important for nurturing future engineers as involvement in APCoRE provides an opportunity to plan, implement and execute for participation in competitions, exhibitions and real-tests of skills,” he said. He also added the undergraduate programmes at APU focuses on providing fundamental engineering knowledge and employability skills through teaching, learning and assessments.
APU’s School of Engineering has been encouraging students to take part in various competitions held beyond campus grounds to hone their strength and test their competency in employability skills. Apart from participating in industry-level competitions, APU students have also emerged as champions at the Hilti Global IT Competition 2021, defeating 200 candidates from 43 countries.
Producing in-demand graduates
To ensure students are well-rounded, APU’s Mechatronic Engineering undergraduate programme offers modules like programming with Python, engineering software and applications, digital electronics and industrial automation. This will ultimately convert them into multiskilled engineers who enjoy versatility in career options.
In fact, the career opportunities for mechatronic engineers are endless. The roles mechatronic engineers can take on include designing consumer machines, industrial machines, robot control systems or aviation electronics and even managerial positions.This just shows that a mechatronic qualification and skills are needed in nearly every industry.
To date, over 50,000 alumni have embarked on their careers worldwide. The employability strength of APU’s graduates has been officially endorsed in the latest annual Graduate Tracer Study by the Higher Education Ministry where 100% of APU graduates were employed upon graduation. This is a significant symbol of APU’s success and pride in nurturing professionals for global careers.