The world has encountered a tremendous evolution since human beings had started applying Science and Technology to improve or facilitate our daily activities. Many Information Technology and Engineering fields have taken an impressive turn, impacting our communities. Tasks that used to be done by people are now fulfilled by machines in a shorter time; governments, big and small companies, and individuals rely on those machines to collect and secure crucial information for them. Among those domains, Mechatronics, Data Science, and Cybersecurity are playing increasing and important roles. Even though these three disciplines take different paths of studies and have different histories they all aim to facilitate and protect the activities of the human species on Earth. I personally choose to discuss these three major disciplines because I like impacting my society, my community, my world and pursuing one of them as a professional career will be a good fit to accomplish my life vision.
- Research Results
- Specialties and/or Sub-disciplines
According to Wikipedia, Mechatronics, also called Mechatronic Engineering, is a multidisciplinary engineering branch integrating electrical and mechanical systems, and combining robotics, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications, and product engineering.
- Electrical Systems: Also known as circuits or networks, electrical systems are designed as combinations of mainly three fundamental components: resistor, capacitor, and inductor.
- Mechanical Systems: Any building service using machines; they include plumbing, elevators, escalators, heating, and air-conditioning systems.
- Robotics: It is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This sphere of studies also uses electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology, and bioengineering.
- Computer Engineering: This is the combination of electronics and computer science.
- Telecommunications: It is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, sounds, or information of any kind by wire, radio, optical or electromagnetic systems.
- Product Engineering: refers to the process of designing and developing a device, assembly, or system such that it be produced as an item for sale through some production manufacturing process.
Whereas Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary branch, Data Science is an inter-disciplinary field based on the use of scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract information and insights from structural and unstructured data. Specialties of Data Science are diverse and very complex. As sub-discipline we distinguish Data Engineering, Data Analysis, Machine Learning Engineering, and Data Visualization Engineering.
- Data Engineering: is a branch or sub-discipline of Data Science that is specialized on practical applications of data collection and analysis.
- Data Analytics: This is the science of extracting and analyzing quantitatively and qualitatively raw data or information in order to derive conclusive assumptions or knowledges.
- Machine Learning Engineering: According to Study.com, “Machine Learning engineers are sophisticated programmers who develop machines and systems that can learn and apply knowledge without specific direction.”
- Data Visualization Engineering: this field takes care of the representation of information and big data in forms of images, graphics, and charts.
Computer Security, Information Technology Security, or Cybersecurity is the protection of computer systems and networks from theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. As far as Cybersecurity is concerned, there is a broad of sub-disciplines derived from it:
- Cyber Physical Systems Security: Cyber Physical Systems (CPS), are defined as “networked systems of cyber (computation and communication) and physical (sensors and actuators) components that interact in a feedback loop with the possible help of human intervention, interaction, and utilization” (Ashibani).
- Data Centric Security: This is a science of security that protects the data itself instead of emphasizing the security on the perimeter or device protection.
There are more sub-disciplines of cybersecurity. Apart from Cyber Physical Systems Security and Data Centric Security, we also have:
- Big Data and Applications Security
- Software Defined Networks Security
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security
- Security Models, Architectures and Protocols
- Cloud and Virtualization Security
- History and heritage of the disciplines
It has always been pleasing when new spheres of studies take off and offer plenty of opportunities to combine many disciplines in a fresh way. Mechatronics is such a field that is meeting a tremendous evolution impacting the ways products are designed, from car rear-view mirror to automated door opening systems to robotics. The world “Mechatronics” was first used in Japan in the 1960s and according to scientists, the domain is derived from robotics. In the 1980s, the development of Information Technology field facilitated the introduction of microprocessors into mechanical systems, improving the performances. By 1990s, advances in computational intelligence were applied to mechatronics in ways that revolutionized the field. The application of mechatronics in designs and fabrications has been very popular in Japan and Europe for decades when it has been evolving very slowly in the United States.
According to Foote, as the history of Mechatronics, the history of Data Science has started with statistics and including concepts/practices such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things in its evolution. In the recent half decade, Data Science has evolved in a way that it includes businesses and organizations in the whole world. It is now being used by governments, big and small companies, geneticists, engineers, and even astronomers. When in 2003 IBM shared statistics showing 90% of data in the world had been created within the last two years, Google’s speech recognition and Google Voice a huge performance jump of 49 percent using Deep Learning techniques in 2015. It is obvious how Data Science and Cybersecurity are related because the more scientists and engineers collect big data, the more security tools are needed to protect the information collected. Therefore, we cannot talk about the history of Data Science and not mentioning Cybersecurity.
Far back in time, before the era of Internet, the concept of cybersecurity had ever been as it is nowadays. Since the introduction of Internet and the development of Data Science (the collection of big data) there are more and more needs to secure this information. The history of cybersecurity started in the 1970s when the first computer virus was discovered. Since then, it has only been a succession of multiple discoveries and marking facts in the world of Cybersecurity. In March 1971, Creeper Virus was discovered. The first DEF CON conference, one of the most popular cybersecurity technical conferences took place in June 1993. Recently, in October 2003, Anonymous, the first universally known hacker group was born.
- Impact on the safety and quality of life for humankind
Whether it is Mechatronics, Data Science, or Cybersecurity, they all have important impacts on the society, on people safety and quality of life. To begin with, Mechatronics by adding intelligence to design of systems, improves the efficiency and effectiveness of its products. It is common to say that Mechatronics is used in our day to day lives. It makes life easier and more secure to live for humankind. For instance, the amount of time and the efforts devoted to wash dishes and clothes are now replaced and facilitated by the dish washer and the washing machines. More examples are the use of sensors in car rear view mirror to detect upcoming cars and worn the driver and also in the medical field, the utilization of magnetic resonance, ultrasonic probes, and arthroscopic devices to make easier surgeries and the detection of infections. More applications of Mechatronics are automatic air conditioning systems, security systems, automatic door systems, and heat control systems.
Data Science on its own, has huge impacts in the field of business. It permits businesses to manipulate data at their disposal, whether that’s governmental data, customer data, or financial data. It is an important factor of growth nowadays in businesses and organizations. Data Science is mostly important in solving business problems. It helps managers of big companies and organizations to analyze customer sentiment on social media and target customers with the right sales messages and emails at the right moment. It also helps companies to improve the quality of their products by looking at the areas where mistakes are likely to occur. All in all, Data Science is not just a buzzword; it is a field that impacts every domain, from marketing to product management.
The more Data Science and other engineering, Information Technology, and business fields are evolving, the more Cybersecurity is evolving. Cybersecurity is a field that is applied in any domain (finances, data science, robotics, telecommunications, and even physical sciences) to enhance the security of systems, machines, and data. The importance of cybersecurity is therefore on the rise. Basically, our communities nowadays rely more and more on the Technology. Sensitive information such as bank account details, credit card information, and social security numbers are now stored in cloud services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Whether you are an individual, small or big company, or governmental association, you have no choice but to rely on computer systems in your daily life. Consequently, scientists in Cybersecurity are needed everywhere and every time to secure information, to keep people, companies, and organizations information confidential, and to reduce the risks of threats and cyberbullying. They also help to keep the world peaceful, avoiding conflicts between countries by protecting crucial information of governments.
- Career Opportunities for graduates
In terms of opportunities, applicants with a Mechatronics Engineering Technology degree are in high demand is a high-tech field and is considered as a “high-priority” occupation with a fast expanding job opportunities. Graduate in Mechatronics have a high chance to get a job in many fields as Mechatronics is a combination of multiple fields such as electronics, computer science, and mechanical engineering. According to the University of California, just to cite few of them, Mechatronics graduates have job opportunities to become robotics engineer/technician, automation engineer, data scientist/big data analyst, or software engineer.
A Data Scientist, according to Harvard Business review, “is a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of Big Data.” As said, Data Scientists are high skilled people who deal with data analytics and IT industry. It is therefore obvious that Data Science graduates meet higher and higher demands nowadays. Graduate students have increasing career opportunities as the Information Technology field and large companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook) are evolving with time. To cite some of the many careers, we have Business Intelligence (B.I) Developers, Data Architects, Applications Architects, Data Analysts, Data Engineers, Machine Learning Engineers, etc.
Despite the high number of demands, there is approximatively 40,000 of unfiled cybersecurity jobs. The few number of graduates in cybersecurity field are therefore offered many career opportunities. They have the plenty possibilities of careers to pursue such security engineer, information security analyst, security software developer, cybersecurity architect, and privacy specialist.
- Nation and/or international supply and demand
With the mechanization of the world, Mechatronics Engineer are needed more than everyone for their skills, their high level of knowledge of combining new technologies to produce machines that impact our day to day lives. The humankind is evolving and there are more and more needs to get some human activities done by robots. Industries, big companies and individuals rely more on electro-mechanical systems to accomplish tasks easily and efficiently, with more precisions. Therefore, engineers in mechatronics are highly demanded. Although it shows that vacancies for this career have decreased by 12.59 percent nationwide since 2004 with an average of 2.1 percent per year, new statistics show that near 55,790 new jobs were filled by 2018; this representing an annual increase of 5.00 percent over the following years.
Fig.2 Employment Growth in Mechatronics
Data Scientists are needed in every job sect sectors and internationally. According to CloudTweaks’ predictions, 40 zettabytes od data will be in existence by 2020, and therefore it comes that Data Science career opportunities will only shoot through the roof! A Mckinsey Global Institute study states that by 2018, only the United States will face a shortage of about 190,000 professionals with deep analytical skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the rise of data science needs will create 11.5 million job openings by 2026 because not only there are more demands but also there is a lack of well qualified of data scientists. Pursuing a career in Data Science is a good opportunity because not only it pays well, but also it is the runabout of the economy of any individual, any company, any country.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2020 and 2026, the rate of employment in Cybersecurity will increase around 28% accordingly to the rise of cybercrimes. For instance, “cybercrimes cost the U.S economy more than $365 million in 2019” (Bureau of Labor Statistics). According to the same source, “the global economy lost billions of dollars in foregone sales and extra costs when the ‘I Love You’ virus warmed its way through cyberspace, affecting more than 45 million computers users across all time zones.” Hence, it can be inferred that the career of cybersecurity is going to be more and more demanded as the technology evolves.
- Regional job market needs (NC & triangle) research job openings, not how many are currently employed
|Disciplines||Job Market Needs|
|Data Science||16% growth|
Fig.3 Predictions of Job market needs in North Carolina by 2022
- Graduate level educational need in your chosen discipline
Mechatronics, Data Science, and Cybersecurity all require a minimum of bachelor’s degree. When Mechatronics require a bachelor’s degree in electro-mechanical engineering, the fields of Data Science and Cybersecurity require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or statistics (for data science). However, more professionals go to Master’s degree and PhD for more specializations for higher positions.
- Salaries for BS, MS, and PhD graduates (include all three in for each discipline)
|Bachelor’s in science (BS)||$40,710/year|
|Master’s in Science||$54,720/year|
|Bachelor’s in science (BS)||$95,000/year|
|Master’s in Science||$128,750/year|
|Bachelor’s in science (BS)||$65,000/year|
|Master’s in Science||$92,000/year|
Fig.4 Salaries according to degrees
To step back to the time before I chose cybersecurity as a career I wanted to pursue, I was looking for a career that will raise my skills upon others’, the one that fits with my values and my personal nature, and which will help me to reach my visions. After finding cybersecurity, I was pretty sure about my future career. Thus, the more I discover explanations about it, the surer I was. First of all, taking into consideration my financial conditions, cybersecurity fits with me because after my bachelor’s degree, I can start working with a good salary of around $60,000 per year, which will help to prepare for my master’s degree. A plus of doing cybersecurity is that the work schedule is flexible and then, it will help me to manage my time to be beneficial for me and work from my house. All in all, I can state that most of the aspects of cybersecurity are good fits for me because it is challenging and not redundant. The only part that seems not appealing to me is the work under pression because I like to work by my own and being independent.
Even though I got more information about cybersecurity, I still have some questions that intrigue me. I ask myself if I will be able to find a good job when I return in my country. Moreover, I ask myself how I will be able to help my community, my country with this career; because after all, my vision is not only to succeed in my life and make my family comfortable but also, to help my surroundings, those in worse conditions to have better conditions and help them to have the chance to evolve in their life. It is true that Mechatronics and Data Science are also appealing careers, but I do not feel a connection with them.
Written by: Tarbari Rafik
Ashibani, Yosef. “Cyber Physical Systems Security: Analysis, Challenges, and Solutions.” Science Direct, Computer and Security, vol.68, July 2017. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167404817300809
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://data.bls.gov/search/query/results?q=data%20science
ECPI University, https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/the-history-of-mechatronics
“A Guideline to Writing as an Engineer.” Chapter 5 “Writing Common Engineering Papers.”