Robotics Engineering in Action
It’s likely that you are a fan of Iron Man or Transformers – especially if you are reading this article. At some point in your life, you have wondered just how Tony Stark managed to build his first iron man suit… (in a cave no less).
You continue to think of possible solutions that would be enough to explain the science of the Mark 44 suit, better known as the Hulkbuster. There are moments when you may ask yourself just how is Jarvis capable of acting like a human-being while being integrated into a titanium nitride suit.
On a different universe, you wonder every time you close your eyes at night how science (or perhaps…magic??) can explain the vehicles turning into talking soldiers. Admit it: in the back of your mind, you’ve always wished that your neighbor’s Chevrolet Camaro had the ability to transform into your very own Bumblebee. You learn to question the nature of physics when you watch the Autobots and Decepticons showcase their weapons and try to outdo each in an all-out, no-holds-barred robotic death match.
The curiosity you had when you were five years old is still there every single time you watch these movies or others like them.
Don’t let your curiosity go to waste!
You always have choices when it comes to honing your curiosity into a usable skill. There are number of things you can do with your passion for physics and engineering. Perhaps you won’t be building indestructible suits, or giant talking robots, but you COULD be the one to bring the world one step closer. Try robotics!
What is Robotics?
According to Merriam-Webster, robotics is “technology dealing with the design, construction, and operation of robots in automation”. Pretty simple, huh? Robotics serves as the holy trinity of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science.
The objective of robotics is to help human beings in making their lives easier. Considering the long-standing technological dogma, robotics has become a grand platform for various sciences and disciplines to improve the lives of humans – from the more basic tasks, to the most tedious and life-threatening scenarios.
The perfect example of where robotics can drastically help humans is during their support in missions that are too dangerous for human life. Instead of sending people into life threatening situations, robots can take the mission to avoid human causalities.
The advancement of robotics has also led to an upgrade in robots to the point that they are now beginning to resemble humans in appearance, behavior, and cognition. In other words, they are increasingly able to perform tasks that humans can accomplish. They can observe things during space exploration. They can utter words. They can practically do complex tasks independently.
Imagine a robot working in a construction site. Independently. Working for you. Building your next house. If the massive development continues, robots may also start their own building company in Perth, Amsterdam, or New York!
There are hundreds of fields in science and arts where you can invest your time and energy. If you are interested in genetics, you can start by taking up a biology program. If you are into poetry, you can enroll yourself in a creative writing program. So why choose robotics over the other options you have on the table?
- The learning is especially fun and inspiring since you are able to experience not just one field, but three major fields of science. You are not closed to one world of learning. It’s like attending Hogwarts where you need to be well oriented in all fields of magic to become a great wizard!
- You will become an active life-time learner. Putting yourself within the robotics circle does not end in the three or four year program. You can constantly continue, explore or even discover new processes that will add to your current knowledge in robotics.
- Robotics can teach you to adapt to a fast-paced, competitive world. The massive development in technology is almost equivalent to innovations performed in the field of robotics. Stop working for a day or two, and you can drastically affect what you have been working on for years. You have to keep the oil burning and move forward constantly.
- You will learn how to make decisions based on logical and critical thinking. The mechanism of a remote controlled vehicle, for instance, is a product of analytical reasoning. Developers have placed every wire, bolt and frame in every vehicle because they are integral to the system. Every decision you make, whether a big or small, must be based on reasons and data.
- It will also help you learn how to build stable relationships with others. You may initiate and propose a great project but that does not mean you can finish it on your own. Whether you like it or not, you need a team. Even Alan Turing needed a team to figure out the Enigma machine. Therefore, you also need people to accomplish your projects.
- Robotics can teach you much more than just making objects move based on your commands. You can also apply your practical knowledge in everyday life.
- Achieving goals will become your habit. In the world of robotics, you have to be goal-oriented. You simply cannot just wait around without thinking what exactly you are trying to accomplish. You need to learn how to establish a thesis statement of sorts in every task you do. This “thesis statement” serves as your guide in order to ensure that you are doing the right thing.
- Your creative skills can also become one of your greatest assets. You may have built the greatest robot of all time, but if it is not pleasing to the eyes, no one will buy it. There is no harm in becoming a technical and creative person at the same time.
- Robotics will teach you how to become ready for everyday challenges. You will learn how to accept every obstacle other robotics engineers might place in front of you. Your ideas and conclusions are always subject to scrutiny and open to challenges by other robotics enthusiasts. They never run out of questions to fire at your work. Therefore, your job is to always bring enough ammunition to fire back.
- It is never too late to study robotics. You can start at a young age. You can also begin in your late 30s. You may have found your passion for robotics a little late, but that is perfectly fine. In other words, robotics will always have a place for you.
Which Schools Offer Robotics Programs?
There are many schools that offer robotics programs, but some are better than others. Here are just a few:
- University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania has the most advanced robotics laboratory in the world. You can learn artificial intelligence, kinematics, design and prototyping. They also offer a Master’s degree in Robotics.
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is known as the first university to offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees in Robotics and Engineering. You can have a degree in Computer Engineering and Robotics at the same time through their combined programs.
- Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University has the largest affiliation and research group about robotics in the world. You can strengthen your connections in the field through this university.
- University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia
University of Georgia offers the Odyssey program. This program enables freshmen to take robotics courses. If you wish to have a background in robotics while taking a different degree, you can enroll yourself under the Odyssey program!
- Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis offers a Masters of Engineering in Robotics which you can reach in one and a half years if you are determined enough. In addition to this, you can also take the program part-time if you have work in the morning or evening.