What Should You Study for a Career in Robotics?

Instead of being afraid of robots and automation taking all the jobs, more students focus on learning about the technology so they’ll be well positioned to work at the forefront of that field. This way they will have a strong career ahead of them. The question is then: what should you study for a career in robotics? We’ll take a look at what core subjects you should start studying at the high school level if you’re contemplating a career in that field, and a few degrees that will prepare you to work in this area.

What Core Subjects are Needed to Succeed in Robotics?

At a basic level, you will need a solid knowledge of mathematics and physics if you want to start studying robotics at a post graduate level. You don’t necessarily need to be a math whiz, but you’ll at least need to have a solid grasp of geometry and algebra to succeed.

Other subjects you should consider include computing, programming and design technology. Some high schools offer specific engineering disciplines like automotive, electronics, or mechanical engineering. If your school offers any of those, they could all be helpful if you’re trying to study robotics. Now let’s look at some of the majors that will allow you to pursue a career in this field.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

An electrical and computer engineering masters degree prepares you to design, maintain and manage robots. This degree combines aspects of computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and even psychology.

The electrical engineering side teaches you about the pneumatics, microprocessors, numerically controlled systems and microprocessors that drive most robots. Today, most electrical engineers learn low-level programming. A combined computer engineering degree or electrical and computer engineering master’s degree gives you more advanced programming skills. Whether you end up training artificial intelligences, designing pick and place robots for the assembly line, or testing self-driving cars, depends on you.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers handle the mechanical or physical aspects of the robot. They help design and develop mechanical components. They may build or test armatures, sensors, motors and devices. They may develop new materials or structures to support the robot. Many aid in the manufacturing of robots and automated systems. A mechanical engineer has at least a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Mechatronics is a closely related degree, focusing on the physical working parts of the robot.

With an associate’s degree, you could work as an electro-mechanical technician. They operate, test and maintain automated systems and robotic equipment. Alternatively, you could be a mechanical drafter, creating the 3D model of the robot to be built and tested. Or you could become a mechanical engineering technician, fabricating the robot’s components and assembling it to the engineer’s specifications.

Computer Science/Information Systems

Computer science and information systems are not engineering, but they do build the so-called brains of the robot. Computer science is more abstract than programming but can include programming.

Computer scientists may work on artificial intelligence programs, or they may program the robot to process data from its sensors and react appropriately. Computer scientists learn high-level programming at a minimum. They may deal with computer vision, machine learning, motion planning and problem solving by the robot. Computer scientists may develop new programming languages or tools to improve AI and robotics.

A math degree can lead to a career in robotics and artificial intelligence. A strong understanding of math is necessary to understanding engineering, science and programming. It is essential to working in Big Data and data analysis. That knowledge is what you need to work in data science - the foundation of artificial intelligence. If you decide you don’t want to work in robotics, you could analyze scientific data for new insights or improve search engine performance.

Design and Technology

This degree is more practical than theoretical. A degree in design and technology teaches robotics engineers about the software and hardware that work in tandem to create a robot. Career paths with a degree in design and technology include robotic design, graphic communication and manufacturing.

The Importance of Hands on Experience

With that being said, we cannot stress enough the need to have a wide scope of experience if you’re trying to enter the field of robotics. For instance, those who might have a formation in design and technology might need to know more about computer engineering to become successful in robotics. Or mechanical engineers might need to know more about computer science. So, when trying to pick a major, try to pick one that will give you a larger scope of expertise on different aspects of the field.

Also, you should polish your formation with as much hands-on experience as you can. While schooling is all fine and good, you have to fine tune your expertise through jobs and internships. If you try to enter the field with nothing but theory, then chances are it will result in failure.

Luckily, most schools will connect graduates to job and internship opportunities that will allow them to hone their skills. This will also give you the opportunity to see what the job is all about and if you’re actually cut out for it. You should also try to get direct experience with robots as soon as you can. Having first-hand experience with them will allow you to see in which field you would actually want to specialize in.

For instance, after working with robots, you might find out that you’d rather work in programming, engineering, or the mechanical side of robotics. Try to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, even if it’s not in the form of jobs or internships. Tons of colleges and high schools run robotics competitions; you could always try entering one if the chance presents itself. The more well-rounded your experience, the greater your chances of success and being viewed as an asset by a potential employer will be.

There are a number of degrees that can lead to a job in robotics. What you have to decide is what areas interest you and build on your strengths. Make sure that you look at all the options available and pick one that will prepare you the best for the current and future workplace.

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