From assembling to bringing machines to life, automation and robotics engineers have been making our lives stress-free through in more ways than we think. Not only do they build, but they also maintain, repair, and develop new models of the machines we use. Pursuing a career in Automation and Robotics engineering is no small deal as you will be responsible for several things that make the world a better place. However, reading this article will set you on the right track towards a rewarding career in the field. Shall we?
What is Automation and Robotics engineering?
Automation and Robotics engineering is a field of engineering that deals with the design and creation of robots. They use computers to manipulate and process robotic actions. These robots are then used in:
- – Industries to speed up the manufacturing process.
- -The field of nuclear science.
- -Servicing and transmission of electric signals
- -Designing of bio-medical equipment, sea-exploration, among others.
Automated and Robotics engineers make use of knowledge from computer engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, biological mechanics, software engineering. But this is not all. They also use control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human labour in factories, offices and at home. Automation and Robotics engineering has indeed been crucial to the development of humanity and certainly, this will come with great responsibilities.
Responsibilities of an Automation and Robotics Engineer
A robot has four parts; the electrical, the mechanical, the hardware and the software. These parts, originally, may seem different. However, as an Automated Robotics Engineer, you will regularly need to make use of all engineering fields when working. Still, the software aspect serves as the glue that holds others together. Here are some basic tasks:
Designing: As an Automation and Robotics Engineer, you will design plans which serve as guides in manufacturing robots and machines. You will design vital mechanisms that make robots run smoothly. For instance, you are responsible for creating software systems controls that are used in manufacturing. Equally, you will design robotic systems that are used to increase production and precision levels in some industries.
Building: A second common responsibility is assembling the machines. Although you may have to do this where there is no separate assembling unit available. It is where you will watch your designs and constructions come to life.
Testing: After assembling, your machine moves to the testing stage. And on many occasions, you will lead the entire process. You will test to verify that they are safe and able to perform the tasks you designed them for.
Some other activities that you will perform daily include:
- Analysing and evaluating the prototypes and robotic systems you have created – This is generally a never-ending task since technology is constantly changing and advancing.
- Reviewing and approving of cost estimates and design calculations.
- Serving as technical support for the robotic systems you have created.
- Teaching plans paths to robots.
- Performing research into the design, operation, and performance of robotic mechanism components or systems.
Skills of an Automation and Robotics Engineer
Learning and developing an interest in design, engineering, and math will be very important as they are the skills needed in becoming an Automation and Robotics Engineer. Furthermore, there are three core skills required of every Automation and Robotics Engineer. These include:
Over 1500 Programming Languages exist in the world. However, you do not need to learn all of them. A good Automation and Robotics Engineer will have ‘The Programming Mindset’. You should be comfortable learning any new language when you require it.
It is not necessary to know which programming language you’ll learn first. Each language that you learn develops your proficiency with the programming mindset and makes it easier to learn any new language whenever you need it.
The primary difference between robotics and other programming disciplines is that robotic programming interacts with hardware, electronics, and the real world. As a new roboticist, you will still have to learn the programming languages that are useful for your career. Below are some foundational ones.
Still, the most important thing is to find a language that feels natural for you and fits with the robotic hardware you will be working with.
There are so many fields within Automation and Robotics Engineering. It is almost impossible to learn all of them before embarking on a project. Even with a 5-year undergraduate degree in robotics or other related fields of study, and a 3-year Ph.D., many would have just begun to scratch the surface of some areas.
Being comfortable with Lifelong Learning is an essential skill you will need throughout your career. Therefore, reading must be a habit. Equally, you will have to develop strategies that will help you learn new things quickly and easily when the need arises.
Robots are very complicated systems. As an Automation and Robotics Engineer, you must be good at mechanics, electronics, electrics, programming, mechanics, sensing and even cognition and psychology.
Systems thinking is a comprehensive approach to analysis. It focuses on the way that a system’s parts interact, how they work overtime, and how they perform within the context of larger systems.
A good Automation and Robotics Engineer understands how all these different systems work together and is familiar with the theory behind all of them. Where a mechanical engineer may conclude that an electrical problem is not their job, a robotic engineer knows in all the different aspects.
Some other skills you may want to develop as an Automation and Robotics Engineer are:
- Active learning skills
- Mathematics skills
- Communication skills
- Complex problem-solving skills
- Good judgment and decision-making skills.
For a career in Automation and Robotics Engineering, you will need to acquire a Bachelor of Science degree in Robotics Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. Around the world, many universities offer accredited programs in the fields. Here are a few:
- Birmingham City University offers BEng(Hons)/MEng in Mechatronic and Robotics Engineering. You can apply Fulltime, Part-Time, or even Sandwich, depending on the study mode you are interested in. The tuition fee is £9,250 per year for UK/EU students and £23,400 for international students. The course offers a seamless progression from BEng to Masters-level award. You will have the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, such as Formula Student and Engineering without Borders, to gain real-life experience of engineering. The school boasts of teaching with the latest tools in technology and helping its students develop new skills to help them advance in their career roles.
- The University of Limerick offers a BE Mechanical Engineering. The school’s Engineering curriculum adheres to traditional guidelines set down by the professional engineering institutions (such as Engineers Ireland and IMechE) and requires you to have an aptitude for mathematics and problem-solving. The tuition fee is $32,568 for local students and $17,219 for foreign students.
- Oregon State University offers a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program. Studying here will afford you the ability to model, analyze, design, and realize physical systems, components, or processes. The annual cost of attendance is $43,330 according to com.
Job outlook and typical employers
Jobs in Automation and Robotic Engineering is set to increase by 4% (2018-2028) according to study.com. Engineers in the field should expect employment growth in the coming years, especially in the aspects of designing, maintenance, as well as studying these automated machines. There will also be a rise in the need to develop applications for robots.
Also, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mechanical field of engineering, which includes Automation and Robotics engineers, will experience an average of 4 percent employment growth from 2018 to 2028. A major reason for this increase is the continuous growth in demand for the machines as well as the emergence of new technologies.
Architectural and engineering services is one of the popular industries that employ Automation and Robotics Engineers. However, in the field, you can find employment in other industries, like aerospace, agriculture, and mining engineering. Since you will be able to apply your skills to different fields, ranging from military to medicine, you also can find employment in related engineering fields or specialize in specific types of robots.
Famous individuals in Robotics and Automation Engineering
As you must have realized, a lot of individuals have performed remarkable feats in robotics. Many of whom I will recommend that you can look up to. I have listed some below but do well to find others.
- Joseph Engelberger. He is referred to as the father of robotics for creating a robot for hazardous tasks together with George D. Devol. In 1959, they had their first working prototype called Unimate #001 which was first adopted by General Motors at their production line at Trenton, New Jersey.
- George D. Devol who conceived, designed, built, and patented the world’s first programmable industrial robot.
- Jacob Matijevic and Donna Shirley together with NASA created The Sojourner robot from the Mars Pathfinder mission which was the first-ever robot to be deployed to the planet Mars
- David Hanson is the person who created Sophia, one of the most advanced AI androids yet created by humankind.
The average salary of an Automation and Robotics Engineer is $87,370 which is the same for all mechanical engineers (study.com)
- In the United Kingdom, Automation and Robotics Engineers make £37,335 per year.
- When employed as an Automation and Robotics Engineer, in Canada, you will make $46,575 per year.
- An Automation and Robotics Engineer In the United States make an average of $101,745 per year.
- Engineers in Nigeria will typically earn between 101,000 to 242,000 NGN, with 242,000 NGN being the highest. (salaryexplorer.com).
Automation and Robotics Engineering is a unique career path with very few similarities because it requires knowledge of other engineering fields. Expertise in Automation and Engineering will qualify you for a wide range of positions. These positions include:
Mechanical Engineer: Here, you will on focus on mechanical parts. You will hardly have a need for electrical engineering knowledge.
Process Engineers: Here, you will be responsible for designing, implementing, controlling, and optimizing industrial processes, especially continuous ones in the chemical, agriculture, mineral processing, pharmaceutical industries.
Software Engineer: As a Software Engineer, you will apply the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.
CAD Designer: Your roles as a CAD Designer will involve generating technical drawings that will help in the building things. You can work with architects or civil engineers to design blueprints for projects like buildings or bridges. You may also collaborate with manufacturers to create precise technical drawings of products in production.
After the completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering fields that teach the basics of robotics, you can also take a Master’s program to increase your earning potentials.
A good number of universities offer a Master’s Degree for aspiring Automation and Robotics Engineers or individuals that are already in the industry but simply wish to take their educational qualifications a bit further. According to masterstudies.com, below are some of the best schools to take Master’s degree courses for a career in Automation and Robotics Engineering:
- Middlesex University, Dubai. For tuition of AED 70,000, you will be awarded an M.Sc. in Robotics for 1-2 years in Part-Time or Full Time.
- Innopolis University awards a Master of Science degree for 2 years in Full-time.
- Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom awards an MSc in Automation Control and Robotics for a GPB 7,200 tuition for EU students and GPB 13,500 for international students. You can complete the program within a year, either in Part-Time or Full-time study mode options.
As an Automation and Robotics Engineer, you will have the ability to influence every aspect of work and homes. This is because the career path has the potential to transform lives and work practices, raise efficiency and safety levels and provide enhanced levels of service positively and effectively.
Remember, I can assist in getting you into the most affordable schools, should you be thinking of pursuing a career in robotics engineering. Just send me an email.
Just before you go, I’d like to learn from you too. If you have suggestions and other ideas that can increase our knowledge in the field, be generous to share.