Electromechanical engineering technology programs prepare people to help engineers design automated systems. Students learn to use computers, math, and science to design systems. They also learn to install and test robotics equipment.
Next time you put a dollar bill into a candy machine, think about the various technologies that are involved. First, little rollers (a mechanical device) pull your dollar in. Then, a scanner (an optical and electronic device) reads your bill to make sure it is real. When you've made your selection, an electronic device calculates how much change to give you. Finally, a mechanical device releases the right candy into the chute, and another one spits out the right change.
A lot of machines are like this: they combine mechanical and electronic components. This is especially true for machines that are used in industry to make products. Such machines stamp out CDs, bottled ketchup, and packaged teabags. The engineering teams that create and maintain these machines consist of more than just engineers; you may also participate as a technologist or a technician. You are especially valuable to the team if you have been trained in electromechanical engineering technology, because you understand both aspects of the machines.
As a technologist, you implement the designs of the engineers. You render the designs as computer-generated drafts. You turn those drafts into specifications. Then, you work with machinists and technicians to build a machine that meets the specifications. Because you have studied physics and electronics, you understand how the design works. You have studied the properties of materials, so you can suggest what to make certain parts from. Most important of all, you understand the scientific method, so you know how to test the implementation of the design. You know how to create a meaningful experiment that will tell you how well the machine is working and where it can be improved. You have also studied economics, so you know what factors influence the cost of the machine.
To learn these skills, you put in four years of full-time study beyond high school and earn a bachelor's degree. Only about a dozen colleges offer this program. The four-year program often ends with a senior technical project. This is a chance for you to work with an engineering team to solve a real-life problem.
To work as a technician, you earn an associate degree, which represents two years of full-time study. About 110 colleges offer this degree program. Compared to the four-year program, it has less rigorous science and math, and you may not have to study economics or statistics. But you learn the scientific method and many scientific principles that you may use in research. For example, you might gather data on mechanical stress in a robotic arm. You might test the wear on different materials used in a bearing. As a technician you also may calibrate and repair equipment.
The two-year program typically ends with a cooperative work experience. That means you are employed part-time or for a short stint at an actual workplace. You report to an instructor what you are learning from your work experience.