In terms of growth and future potential, there are few industries that can match the opportunities presented by the field of robotics. In many respects, the majority of the systems and services we rely upon on a daily basis can be linked to robotics – everything from the production of vital medicines to the manufacture of microprocessors that power our mobile devices.
In short, robotics is relied upon for a great many things. It therefore stands to reason that the pursuit of a career in robotics would not only be rewarding and challenging, but also relatively stable. In this article, we’ll examine the things that you need to consider when setting upon a path to the robotics industry.
What Should I Study?
In general, if you’re interested in a career in the field of robotics, you should expose yourself to as many STEM courses as possible. To start your career in robotics as a software engineer, you can try to enrol in one of the well-known coding bootcamps. Robotics is a very diversified field, so your subjects of study, particularly early on in your academic career, should be pretty broad.
When you get to post-secondary, there will be a number of different robotics courses for you to choose from. For example, if your interest in robotics has narrowed in any meaningful way, perhaps Mechatronics might be a good avenue to pursue. For context, mechatronics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on the integration of mechanical, electronic and electrical engineering systems, and also includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer science, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering.
While mechatronics is a great place to start, a more general approach would be to look for courses in the following areas: Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, and Software. For those that are maybe concerned at the prospect of having to obtain a degree in a field of study, you’ll be happy to know that a lack of a degree in any particular field is not a dealbreaker for working in robotics. For example, provided you have a decent academic background you might be able to land an apprenticeship or internship in your desired field of robotics. Eventually, as you gain experience you will be able to narrow your field of interest.
College Majors That Can Help You Land a Career in Robotics
Studying STEM subjects and general robotics courses will certainly help you to develop an understanding of the basics of robotics, but there are certain majors that employers are looking for, namely:
- Electrical Engineering – If you’re interested in robotics, having a major in electrical engineering is a great start. Electrical engineering classes cover a wide range of material that someone working with robotics will find useful. Courses include information on hydraulics, pneumatics, controlled systems, logic, and microprocessors. In a very real sense, being successful in the field of robotics will hinge on one’s knowledge of electrical engineering, especially when it comes to electronics.
- Mechanical Engineering – If you fancy working with robotics and enjoy getting your hands dirty, mechanical engineering may be your major of choice. As a mechanical engineering student, you’ll be exposed to courses revolving around mechanics, materials engineering, and manufacturing, which will give you a firm understanding of how robotics work in the real-world. This discipline has the added benefit of providing the opportunity to specialize in either mechatronics or robotics which allows you to steer your focus on the physical design or robotic actuation.
It should be noted here that while useful, having an electrical or mechanical engineering degree isn’t the only field of study that you can pursue if you’re interested in a career in the robotics industry.
- Computer Science – True, computer science cannot be classified as an engineering discipline, but it is a major that would provide the knowledge necessary to contribute arguably the most important and interesting part of robotics: the programming that drives them. While the first two majors discussed above will help you along the path to working with robotic hardware, a major in computer science will contribute the programming that will allow the equipment to achieve the desired outcome.
- Mathematics – It may be an understatement to say that a major in mathematics will open a lot of doors in the tech industry but if you’re interested in applying mathematics to robotics, you’ll have several roles to choose from. Data science and analysis and programming are all skills a math major will have at their disposal.
- Design and Technology – A design and technology degree will position a graduate in a pretty good spot to land a career in the field of robotics. First, this major offers courses that will aid a robotics technician to not only understand the software used by robotic equipment but also the physical hardware that executes the program’s commands. As an additional benefit to majoring in design and technology, robotic manufacturers will require your services to make their products visually appealing and easy to use.
- Computing and Programming – Graduates with a diploma or certificate in computing and programming have the skills required to work with electrical and controls engineers to design the programs that will govern the movements and interactions with the robotic equipment.
Other Things to Consider
Of course, your education and experiences will go a long way in your pursuit of a career in robotics, but those aren’t the only two factors to consider.
- Networking – Robotics is and will continue to be a very competitive job market. If you want to land the job of your dreams, you need to talk to the right people. While networking isn’t something we all naturally excel at, research has proven that the vast majority who actively engage in networking activities (85%) gain employment through one of their connections. If you have trouble getting started, begin searching for individuals in your area that work in a related field to the one you’re interested in and set up a time to talk, provided they’re willing. Be prepared with questions about their experience and be willing to share your long-term aspirations.
- Critical Thinking – Robotics, like many other technical disciplines, is one that can move very rapidly. Problems arise and industry norms can shift without warning. Having the ability to anticipate changes or issues you may encounter on the job and developing a resource library to help you address the issues and meet the changes head on will help you gain and keep employment in the robotics industry.
- Leadership – Having leadership qualities doesn’t mean that you’ll need to assume project manager responsibilities, it just means that you have the skills to take in the scope of the project and collaborate effectively with your team to ensure deadlines are met. If you are interested in being a team lead however, remember that sound judgment, a positive attitude and consistent performance will accelerate your upward momentum through your company.
- Interpersonal Skills – There are very few highly skilled roles that can be done effectively in complete isolation. Regardless of your social aspirations, working in a fast-paced, evolving sector like robotics engineering requires that you have to work effectively with not just your team, but other teams working simultaneously towards the same goal. A free flow of ideas and communication is immeasurably important to the success of a project as it eliminates ambiguities and promotes efficiency in teams of all sizes.
Robotics Means A Challenging Career
For those who choose it, robotics will prove to be a rewarding and challenging career. As further applications are developed, the world’s reliance on robotics will continue to grow, and that means there are, and will be ample opportunities for the foreseeable future.
Academic pursuits are undoubtedly important, but a balance between the skills learned in a post-secondary program and the soft skills that you pick up along the way will make you that much more desirable by employers. If you’re interested in a career in robotics and would like to learn more, check out the tech courses offered by George Brown College today.
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