Growing up, you may have had the idea of robots taking over almost all our daily chores. Movies and the media promised us that robots would make our jobs easier and even become capable of making their own decisions and correcting their behavior. These days, more and more universities are offering robotics and robotics engineering as majors. The need for people to design automated systems is steadily on the rise. So, what should you expect when pursuing a path in robotic engineering?
Overall job description
As a robotics engineer, you are responsible for designing robotics systems. Typically, these systems are part of the automation processes found in factories and assembly lines. A robotic system can automate several tasks that humans used to have to do by hand. Multiple industrial robots may work in tandem, or individual robotic systems may be able to complete numerous operations on their own. For example, robotic systems are almost entirely responsible for filling, capping, labeling and stamping soda bottles. In the past, this job may have required several humans and would have only taken place during normal business hours. Now, however, the job can be accomplished by machines and can operate even with minimal human oversight.
Skills and areas of study
Robotics engineers need to have excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to work well with a team. Attention to detail is critical. However, you absolutely need some mechanical skill. If you enjoy working on cars, rebuilding old machinery, or fixing up things around the house, then you will be very satisfied with the day-to-day requirements of your job as a robotics engineer. A background in electronics, programming, and CAD are commonplace for robotics engineers.
While working as a robotics engineer you may work on several projects ranging from designing, troubleshooting, prototyping and possibly programming new robotics systems. Robotics engineers are always looking for ways to speed up a process or increase efficiency. One week you may be looking at motors and analyzing their power curves to see if you can find a better option. Later, you might be designing a part in CAD, getting it ready to incorporate into your automation flow line. Robotics engineers are part mechanic, part designer, part programmer and part troubleshooter.
According to Glassdoor.com, robotics engineers in Detroit can expect to earn around $56K (U.S.) to start with the potential of doubling that with seniority. Robotics engineers are still not listed as an “in demand” job, but that is rapidly changing. Just look at all of the advances in the domains of computer science, AI, and Machine Learning. As our software advances by incredible measure, so too must our hardware. After all, the robotics systems are the testbed for these programs in the real world.
When considering a career in robotics engineering, look to industry before science fiction. While many of the dreams we had in the past about our robotic-assisted future are coming to life, these realizations will come out of the field of automation first before they ever make their appearance in the real world.
Written by: B.A. Durham