An Outlook on Robotic Engineering Careers
According to an interview with the innovative Dr. Lonnie Love, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory Engineer, “if you love to figure out how things work, being an engineer is the job for you”. Engineering is an exciting profession meant for anyone that enjoys problem-solving, physical and mental work, and daily challenges. There are a variety of specialized engineering occupations: civil, industrial, chemical, and robotic engineering.
Robotic engineers design several different types of robots for different tasks. They are the unseen mechanics that create robots and robotic systems that are able to perform duties people can’t accomplish or won’t do.
Brief History of Robotics
The science of robotics is relatively new, officially born in the 20th century. It was only in 1920 that Karel Capek published his play, “Rossum’s Universal Robots”, which introduced the term “robot”. It derives from an old Slavic word meaning “monotonous and forced labor”. Shortly after, in the 1950’s, George Devol completed the Unimate, a robotic arm device that moved die castings in a General Motor plant in New Jersey. The Unimate led to Devol and entrepreneur Joseph Engelberger starting the first robot manufacturing company, Unimation. Since then, the world of robotic engineering has grown into a competitive and lucrative profession.
A robot engineer’s typical day-to-day is active, with overtime happening more often than not. Tasks can include: building and testing robots, designing software systems, evaluating prototypes, reviewing and approving cost estimates, technical support, teaching, and research. Patience is necessary among many virtues to be a successful robotic engineer. The majority of time is spent designing plans for complex and technical robots or creating the processes critical to the robot’s operation. These responsibilities take an exorbitant amount of time and care, making it a usual practice for robotic engineers to accomplish a few specified projects throughout their career.
Manufacturers are the biggest employers of robotic engineers, with 90% of active robots working in the automotive industry. However, there are other options for a robotics career. Private companies, universities, government agencies, and the entertainment industry also employ robotic engineers for an array of jobs. NASA employs robotic engineers to develop robots meant to explore other planets or devices used to conduct space science experiments. The military hires robotic engineers to build robotic vehicles that can clear mine fields or survey enemy terrain. Disney, Universal, and other theme parks work with robotic engineers to create state-of-the-art animatronics meant to inspire and amaze. Robotic engineers inherently make jobs safer, easier, and more efficient.
Entry level positions require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The best concentrations are electrical, mechanical, and robotics if it is offered. These areas of study focus on understanding the fundamentals of electronics, computing, power management, hydraulics, and pneumatic systems. Further growth will require a master’s in electronic engineering depending on the career path chosen.
A master’s in electrical engineering provides upward movement in the industry. Greater responsibility for innovation, team leadership, and a wider occupation variety. A larger salary accompanies a master’s degree as well as hirable potential. More engineering education correlates with the most sought after engineering jobs, from reputable car manufacturers to aerospace research.
A master’s with a concentration in mechatronics, an original and developing field, specializes in the combination of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. Mechatronics is a current, necessary function in many roles from vehicular function to major surgery. A specialization in this area offers multiple areas of growth using unique skill and talents.
As of today the average U.S salary for robotic engineering is $95,000, nearly double the mean annual wage. There are 136,000 robotic engineers in employ throughout the U.S with a projected 4% increase over the next 10 years. The profession requires problem-solving, patience, focus, and creativity. Projects span long periods of time involving countless obstacles and require close teamwork. Duties can range beyond the engineering itself, delving into: cost proposals, travel, reports, and quality control.
Robotic engineering helps shape and even save the world. Dr. Love’s work has spanned the robotics field and brought him to the forefront of an area called additive manufacturing in which parts are built up from materials instead of machined down. Robotics are involved in a plethora of areas, giving engineers viable and unique job opportunities.
To help you expand your technical expertise and acquire the advanced skills important for professional growth in the field of engineering, find out more information about New Jersey Institute of Technology online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering program.