Let's Make Robots!

Studying and working in the field of robotics

I'm in high-school now and I'm considering to study robotics and have a career in robotics. I guess it's what I'd like to do the most. What college programs and university programs should I take? What are the different career options in robotics? I think OddBot works for DAGU and I heard him say he loves his job (I never doubted he would, either). So how is your job like, OddBot? Any recommendations?

Great thanks to the whole LMR community

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You do finish the robot, completely, but the specialists in the different fields just refine your current work to a more accurate degree so that the model is more “stable” in all the 3 fields. Like mentioned, you have a lot of knowledge about every aspect of the different fields required to make a robot, but not to such an in depth understanding as an expert in the related field.  

I believe it is, the way I understand the word mechatronics, it is a combinational subject, let me add I am going to start studying it formally in about a month and a half. I am looking for my master’s degree so that I too can enter the field of robotics as a profession.

From what I understand so far they teach you basically everything about mechanical, electrical and software engineering but just enough so that you can do the designing and the prototyping to see if the idea is plausible. Then the experts in the different fields take over and refine the original prototype and design to near perfection.

But then again it is very plausible that I am wrong.

Yes and no. I am studying mechatronics engineering now and that is just one possible path to follow. For a lot of the kids in our class we specialize in the final years and essentially become an electrical, mechanical or computer engineer with a strong background in other fields. The program is demanding and the workload is large simply because we try to study such a broad range of subjects. Really it doesn't matter what engineering program you go into if you want to work on robots but it is easier with a program such as mechatronics.

I don't know if this sort of job even exists, but can I just sit back, design, prototype, test, program, basically just make a robot someone wants me to make and get paid for it ;). Or am I actually talking about starting an enterprise? I just feel bad about not actually finishing my robots (referring to what you said about handing the undone prototype to specialists), or I've maybe misunterstood you. Anyways, thanks for replying!

When I first came to China that is what I thought I was going to do.Just make a robot and get paid for it.

I must also work with a team of engineers to make sure they understand the design properly. I must write the manual and work with the art department to get the box and manual looking good. I must help the sales department sell the finished product and I must provide ongoing support to the distributors and customers who have bought the product. I must also repair faulty robots, design, build and program test equipment and then teach others how to use it.

As it takes a lot of time from start to finish for 1 product I end up with several projects going at once. I work very long hours and only get to have the fun of making a robot or programming it about once a week if I am lucky.


Need another hand around there OddBot?

Chances are you would be finishing it. If you worked on the prototype it makes sense to make you team lead for the project. You know everything that's going on and can leverage the skills of other people in the team to produce a product that is better than something you could do on your own.

Correct if I am wrong.

Specifically, I think it also concider which type of robot you intend to build. Like BigDog you need decent math for massive crazy calculations.

Most important, passion matters.

Yeah I wish I could understand open-loop walking, dynamic balancing, kinetics in general and a ton more...

Yup, passion matters!

Yes my new career in robotics is great! Like any job, you have good days and bad days. I do not know what courses are available to you and I do not know your strengths and weaknesses so here is my suggestion.

Decide if you are an arty or a techy as Frits would put it.

If you are an Artistic person then you may look at careers in movie special effects, animatronics, theater or art. Art is a lot more than painting and sculptures.

If your more technical minded then you may prefer a science or engineering degree. Perhaps you could end up designing a robot for space exploration.

No matter which type of person you are, you must also consider your strengths and weaknesses.

For example my strength is my electronics knowledge and experience. I have had 28 years experience, I am an electrical fitter and I studied electronics for my associate diploma.

My weakness is programming. I learned basic when I was 12 but never learned any C until I was 22. I then spent about 10 years where I did not program at all. I really need to learn some higher languages like Java, Python etc.

If you are good at programming then try to study electronics. If you are good at electronics then try to study programming. The reason for this is that you need both skills for robotics. If you are naturally good at something then you can probably teach yourself like I did. It is the skill you are not good at that you will need the most help with.

So far I have not mentioned mechanics. A good understanding of mechanical principles and materials should also be considered. Especially if you want to get into special effects or space exploration. Chemistry might be a useful subject.