New degree: Robotics

New degree: Robotics

Robotics is exactly what you'd assume it is. Robotics, as simply defined by NASA, is "the study of robots."

The uses for robots are nearly endless. NASA uses robots to move objects in space and explore other worlds, while Google has used robots for transportation. Other companies have used robots for forklifts, mechanical legs, surgical procedures, and a number of other crucial functions. This isn't science fiction anymore, folks. It's reality, with robots impacting our present and our future. To join this growing career field, a degree in robotics could be useful.

Types of degrees in robotics

Robotics is a diverse field of study.

You can study robotics at the undergraduate and graduate level, seeking anything from an associate degree to a Ph.D. Plenty of schools offer the degree online or on campus, making it accessible to any type of student regardless of their present circumstances. Robotics programs are often linked with a more specialized area, such as engineering, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles or automation engineering. Undergraduate degrees in robotics tend to be more broad, while graduate degrees are more specialized. A Ph.D. attracts more those interested in the research side of robotics.

Clearly, you've got options when it comes to studying robotics.

Robotics courses

Now comes the fun part, the classes themselves. Below are a couple of relatively common classes that you may take in a robotics program:

  • Introduction to robotics: According to Southern New Hampshire University, this course covers a broad range of topics, including applications of robots, controlling robot motion, robotic sensors, remote communication, behavior programming, and many more. Courses can include both hands-on and theoretical instruction.
  • Artificial intelligence: You'll likely explore Web commerce applications and business intelligence in this class to see how AI is used on the Web to carry out tasks for both organizations and individuals. This may not be a course offered in your specialization within robotics, but it's a relatively common offering within the field.

You'll likely take several core courses, which could include English, math, science and communication. You may also expect to take computer programming, information technology, software development, engineering, and other related courses. This may vary depending on your specialization within robotics.

During your robotics education, you may not invent a robot that performs every annoying life task for you, but you'll surely get to create and learn about some very cool aspects of robotics.

Career opportunities for robotics graduates

Earning a degree in robotics won't only make you the most interesting person at a party, it could also make you eligible for a number of career duties.

Here are just a few areas you may be qualified for, especially if you specifically study robotics engineering, according to the University of California, Santa Cruz:

  • Remote sensing
  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Assistive technologies
  • Control system design
  • Signal/image/video processing
  • Embedded system design

According to Southern New Hampshire University, a degree in robotics may also allow you to enter careers where you "develop artificial intelligence software for use in robots, business intelligence or video games, or manage IT operations for a large company."

Graduates of a robotics program might find employment at one of the world's top 10 most innovate companies in robotics in 2013. According to Fast Company they include:

  1. iRobot
  2. Recon Robotics
  3. Google
  4. Mazor Robotics
  5. SpaceX
  6. Lockheed Martin
  7. PV-Kraftwerker
  8. Boston Dynamics
  9. Ekso Bionics
  10. Seegrid

Even if you don't land a job at any of these companies, a degree in robotics could prepare you for a job in the field or grant you tech-saavy skills that could prove applicable to any number of jobs for any number of companies. The point is, you won't just be that interesting guy or gal at the party that everyone's crowding around to hear about what a robotics degree entails or if you've ever created a robot for yourself.

As more degree programs in robotics pop up at colleges across America, options to study robotics expand. Whether you take the online or traditional route when pursuing this degree, who could really blame you for wanting to study robots? It could be a sci-fi dream come true.


New Hampshire Technical Institute, Robotics and Automation Engineering Technology Degree, http://www.nhti.edu/academics/programs-study/engineering-technology-programs/robotics-and-automation-engineering

"The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Robotics," fastcompany.com, Erik Sofge, http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/industry/robotics

University of California, Santa Cruz, The Robotics Engineering Major 2013-14, http://admissions.ucsc.edu/academics/majors/robotics-engineering.html

Southern New Hampshire University, BS Computer Information Technology: Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Degree Online, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate-degrees/computer-information-technology-bachelors-online/robotics-artificial-intelligence.asp

"What is Robotics?" nasa.gov, Nov. 9, 2009, http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/robotics/home/what_is_robotics_k4.html#.UtbY1nONTZw

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Robotics Engineering, http://www.wpi.edu/academics/robotics/graddegree-ms.html

University of Michigan, Master of Engineering in Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles, http://isd.engin.umich.edu/degree-programs/robotics-and-autonomous-vehicles/curriculum.htm