What is robotics engineering?
Robotics engineering is a subset of engineering, which focuses on building autonomous machines (robots) for a wide variety of industries. Robots are designed to replace jobs that humans currently do, but are too repetitive, dangerous or otherwise unhealthy. Robotics engineers design, build and test robots to ensure they are as cost-effective and safe as possible.
What are the typical responsibilities of a robotics engineer?
The responsibilities of a robotics engineer vary depending on what stage of development the robot is in. In the early stages of development, you’ll find yourself researching what jobs should be automated and working out the skills the robot should have. Robotics engineers conduct an in-depth analysis of the robots specifications, considering what issue the robot is solving and what might stop the robot from functioning properly.
Then, the robot will be designed using 3D CAD (computer aided design) tools, and then manufactured again using a computer. The difficulty of designing a robot means that many robotics engineers only work on a couple of projects throughout their career.
Once the robot is designed, engineers spend their time writing technical reports on the robot's performance, finding and fixing issues, and demonstrating the finished product to customers.
Where do robotics engineers work?
Robotics engineers work in a wide range of fields, as many industries look towards automating roles. You could find yourself working in the electronics, automotive or even the culinary industry. All engineers split their time between the office and the lab. Inside the lab, they design the mechanical parts that make up the robot, while the office is used for planning and research.
How can I become a robotics engineer?
There are a number of different ways to enter the field. You could complete a college course, such as a certificate in Robotics and Automation. Afterwards, you could start off as a robotics technician or junior engineer, and progress as you gain experience. There are even degree apprenticeship programs in robotics, such as software development and electro-mechanical engineering. Completing an apprenticeship allows you to earn money while studying, and you’ll often receive a full-time job once qualified. UCAS has a number of resources on what it's like doing an engineering apprenticeship.
Alternatively, you could do an undergraduate degree in a STEM subject, such as computer science, physics, mechanical engineering or maths. However, more senior roles typically require a postgraduate apprenticeship or degree.
How can I develop my robotics skills?
You may wish to join a robotics club or engineering group, so you can build up your knowledge and meet other people interested in the field. As you develop your skills, you could even take part in robotics design competitions. Coming in one of the top places will give your CV a massive boost.