There are many reasons someone might become a robotics engineer — someone who designs, builds, and tests robots and the platforms they run on. For some, they can say they have a hand in a file future. Others may just want to create new things and challenge themselves to find solutions to complex puzzles, such as how to develop a robotic hand that can understand things Much like humans are capable of doing.
But for some robotics engineers, such as Jinxing Li, assistant professor at Department of Biomedical Engineering At Michigan State University, their interest continued Robotics It is more philosophical and reflexive and rooted in the natural world.
What is a robotics engineer?
A robotics engineer designs, builds, and tests robots and robotic platforms. Robotics engineers usually need to be good at math and curious about the world around them.
“Building something that can replicate ourselves or other beings is an inherent desire for humans and an intrinsic curiosity for me as well,” Lee told Built In. “As a result, Mother Nature is always the biggest inspiration for building robots.”
For Li, whose work has focused on developing small robots – Basically small robots that have the ability to Treat disease and infection – Robots are not just a way to “understand ourselves as life”; It is also a way to save lives.
What does a robotics engineer do?
Robotics engineers wear many different hats — designer, builder, tester, tinkerer, and educator. They also work in many different industries, building all kinds of robots from Autonomous mobile robots And the Collaborative robots that work alongside humans in warehouses for Skin-printing robots — as Diana Hood, a robotics engineer in Australia, who helped develop.
In 2020 Hood moved to Sydney to work with surgeons to develop a robot that could print skin to help heal people with severe burns.
What does a robotics engineer do?
Robotics engineers have a hand in many industries and applications.
- They are designing robots that can work alongside humans in factories or other industries such as hospitality and healthcare.
- They’re making small robots for biomedical use cases like disease monitoring and treatment.
- They also maintain the bots and develop software so that the bots can work independently.
“It sounds like science fiction, but the robots I helped design allow surgeons to 3D print a patient’s skin cells directly into his wound, which incredibly stimulates the body to ‘heal itself’ and regenerate new skin,” Hood said. in a. “It’s been fun and exciting working alongside surgeons to design a life-saving product for patients, especially because I’m doing it with robotics, encryption, and other technologies that I love.”
Not all robotic engineers have such a direct impact on the health and well-being of other humans, as Hood and Lee do. Some work behind the scenes to get it Self-driving vehicles On the road or help in evolution Humanoid robots We can mow our lawn. Others are designing robots that can grab or work on a specific product from a warehouse shelf social robots Can interact with humans.
“You don’t have to be a doctor or an occupational therapist or a teacher to help people — I literally worked with them all like a robot.”
But if someone really wants to help others in a way that can save lives, bots are a good way to go.
“Almost every ‘care profession’ these days relies on technology to help their clients and their patients — like a skin-printing robot for burn surgeons, a 3D biological printer for the cancer researchers I’ve worked with, or a robotic partner for children with learning,” Hood said. An occupational therapist or a teacher of helping people – I literally worked with all of them like a robot.”
Degrees and skills needed for robotics engineering
There is no single academic path in robotics engineering, although some majors, such as mathematics and electrical engineering, are more popular entries in the field than others. Although technical skills are important, Other featuressuch as creativity, patience and the ability to work well with others, are just as important.
When Hood was a child, she wasn’t much of an inventive person. She said Hood was so interested in math that she skipped two grades in high school. Hood began college at fifteen, majoring in the subject, and added electrical engineering as a double major. From there she got her master’s degree in robotics and computer vision.
As a student, Lee also pursued electrical engineering, with the goal of one day making computer chips smaller and faster, he said. With Semiconductor companies Dominating the industry, he soon realized that there weren’t many opportunities for researchers to make an impact. “But instead, there is plenty of room for miniaturization of devices other than computers, such as medical devices and robots.”
Degrees and skills needed by robotics engineers
- Related degrees include: Mathematics, MEP, Computer Science, and Design (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD)
- Related skills include: Programming, creativity, patience, collaboration, curiosity and flexibility
As a result, he obtained his Ph.D. in Nanoengineering, with a focus on micro and nanorobots. Before getting into the world of robotics, Lee admitted that he wished he was more skilled at programming. Programming, or programming, is what brings a robot to life, making it capable of performing the tasks it was designed to do.
While math and coding are important skill sets – C++ And the Python are popular Robotic programming languages When it comes to robotics engineering, curiosity and collaboration are the driving forces behind Hood and Lee’s success in this field.
When Hood worked on the skin-printing robot, it wasn’t a solo task or one team of robotic engineers developing it — she worked with a group of industrial designers to make it easy to use for surgeons who provided feedback on those. designs. “Cooperation on such devices is a necessity,” she said.
For Lee, too, most of his day, outside of class, consists of collaborating on projects and piqued his curiosity.
“In the evenings,” he said, “I will sit quietly for a few hours to read and learn about new publications and technical developments.” “For me, it is the most relaxing moment to exchange new and wild ideas.”
Advanced skill set for robotics engineers
Jordan Sun, Vice President of Product Softbank RoboticsHe spends his workday working with the production and engineering teams to make sure the company’s robots, like cobot and Whiz, are up and running. When it comes to the robotics engineers he collaborates with, he’s seen an evolution of sorts when it comes to skill sets – basically, they don’t focus individually on a single platform or function.
The industry is now much more complex, he said, especially when it comes to robotic people. He said he and his team have to ensure that they do not make things difficult for their customers, but rather generate value by neutralizing pain points, while making sure the bot continues to operate in a stable and secure manner.
“I really want people to have a wide range of experience and knowledge, not just in terms of working with one type of platform, but across platforms,” Sun told Built In. “There is a lot to learn beyond just working on a robotic arm to having some experience and independence, whether that be outdoors or indoors, having experience working with software engineers, or as a software engineer, and computer scientists.”
Responsibilities of a robotics engineer
When it comes to a robotics engineer’s day-to-day responsibilities, they can range anywhere from writing grant proposals and collaborating with design and product teams, to coming up with answers to seemingly impossible questions, as in the case of Hood: How do you ensure the robot you’re working on knows exactly where to print the new skin on? Patient?
“In general, I develop new and innovative device ‘brains’ that are used by clinicians, occupational therapists and biomedical researchers,” Hood said. “On the skin-printing robot, my focus was on ‘thinking’ problems that would allow the robot to deliver 3D therapy with cells Renewable bioprinted on the patient’s wound, regardless of the shape of the wound.”
Hood describes those kinds of questions as typical problems found in the field of, essentially, “how to perceive a complex dynamic environment, and then decide how to act accordingly — just in different contexts.”
Jobs for robotics engineers
While the career options for robotics engineers can vary from teaching to developing robots and robotic platforms alike hardware And the software The aspects — or a combination of the two — the types of projects robotics engineers can choose to work on are nearly limitless.
“You can work on anything,” Hood said. “It is a strength of all technological professions, but it also makes it difficult to explain its impact to young people who want to change the world.” Why”. No trading bot has ever been developed without a clear impact on society – “why”.
Collaborative robotics is one area where it appears to be experiencing growthCompanies in logistics and other industries such as manufacturing are increasingly turning to cobots and other types of robots, to automate tedious tasks and fill gaps in the job market. According to Sun, of Softbank Robotics, cobots are currently getting a lot of attention.
“I think the market will only get more interesting with more SaaS players entering this space, not just hardware players,” said Sun.
“Robots” in itself is an abstract field, but this is the “what” not the “why”. No trading bot has ever been developed without a clear impact on society – the “why”.
If you’re just entering the field, Hood suggests starting small and doing things people can’t stop you from doing, she says.
“Build your own stuff,” she said, “even if it’s simple.”
She adds that online courses – like-minded offers Coursera – Beside simulationevents, volunteering and contributing to open source projects such as ruswhich you have contributed to, are good actions to take.
“All of these things have helped build my technical ability, as well as valuable connections with the people who make robotics happen,” Hood said.
And if you want to help other people like those in healthcare and education, you don’t have to become a teacher or a doctor. “Technology is what powers innovation in all of these industries today,” Hood said. “As a result, the world actually needs altruistic technologists, too.”