5 Foundational Areas of Coursework in a Robotics Program
- Advanced Mathematics
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electronic Engineering
- Computer Science
Robotics is a growing field and, as we move toward a more technologically advanced society, interest in robotics is growing. From employing these advances in manufacturing and service oriented businesses to bringing the technology into the home, there's no limit to the possibilities. For those hoping to get in on the ground floor, a degree in robotics may pave the way to an exciting and rewarding career, but what are the best courses to take?
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but the importance of a strong aptitude in mathematics cannot be overemphasized. Consider this a starting point from which every aspect of robotic development is launched. Math equations, from the simple to the complex, will be utilized in every aspect of the creation process from engineering the mechanics of the body to developing the software and hardware for the brain.
Of course, a strong knowledge of scientific principles is as important as mathematical ability. Particularly, a thorough understanding of physics will help you, when it comes to the rest of your coursework. Applied physics programs lay the groundwork for understanding the concept of energy, how mechanics and electrical circuits function, and give perspective to a number of other facets of robot engineering. In choosing physics courses, consider how the curriculum will apply to real world work in your chosen field. For instance, chemical physics may not be the best choice for your major, since chemical interactions have nothing to do with developing robots and forms of artificial intelligence.
Here we get into the meat and potatoes of your college experience. The preliminary coursework may have seemed tedious at the time, but, now that you have reached this point, you'll appreciate the knowledge you have thus far gained. Mechanical engineering coursework will teach you how to build the body of your robot, giving you experience in creating the physical systems. While most mechanical engineering coursework is generalized around the topics of mechanics, manufacturing, and materials engineering, some curriculums also offer education in mechatronics. These types of classes will teach more about the physical design of a mechanical body and actuation.
Related Resource: Top 20 Robotics Engineering Schools in the U.S.
The human body has multiple systems, such as the nervous system, the respiratory system, and the circulatory system. The body of a robot is similarly complex, but instead of a nervous system, for example, there's a system that distributes electricity throughout the body. Electronic engineering will give you the knowledge for embedding these systems, installing low level programming, and applying control theory. Some electronic engineering coursework may even provide specialized education in automation to supplement the concepts of mechanical engineering.
As mentioned above, a robot has much in common with a human, so it's not surprising that a robot also requires a "brain" that will allow it to function. In order to be able to program the brain with the necessary knowledge and create some type of artificial intelligence, a strong background in computer science is necessary. Now that the field of robotic engineering is gaining momentum, there are specially designed courses in artificial intelligence and software design. Previous coursework in psychology and related disciplines can help in this area, as any A.I. system will have to simulate many aspects of higher reasoning and cognitive development.
Of course, these are just the major fields of study and there may be specialized curriculums to consider. Even before you hit the job market, there is much hard work in attaining a degree in robotic engineering. Coursework is demanding, but it's equally rewarding in that it may eventually lead you to develop the next phase of robots and artificial intelligence design.