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Getting a Feel for Robotics?

  1. Nov 1, 2011 #1

    I'm currently pursuing a BS in Biomedical Engineering, but I've been looking into the possibility of taking on a Robotics minor as well. I've always been more interested in the technical aspect of BME rather than the actual biology part, but I have to admit I'm pretty shoddy at maths/CS.

    Thus, I was wondering what studying robotics is actually like (cause the name itself sounds cool, but we all know courses usually aren't as fun as they sound xD).

    1) Do I have to be a boss at programming? Which language(s) would you say are the dominant ones being used?
    2) How much math would I realistically need to be proficient at? I'm already taking enough math courses to pretty much be considered a math major, but I can't say I enjoy them at all; I'm specifically bad at more 'abstract' math. DiffEq's and other such computationally-based things I can understand (mediocre-ly), but linear algebra I struggled through entirely.
    3) Anything else you think I should know about robotics before deciding to pursue this? Any introductory-like courses that might hint towards whether I like it or not (ie: I'm currently taking an intro-level circuits course to see if I'd like EE sort of things; it isn't so bad)? I would take "Intro to Robotics" but at my school, that's a grad-level course o___o.

    Thanks very much in advanced for any responses! :D
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2011 #2
    1) Robotics are nothing without control. So yea you will have to either be boss at programming or at system control schemes. Either way, a solid understanding of programming is essential for robotics. (Unless you are focusing strictly on the mechanisms and not the way they operate). The language used differs depending on application, industry, and company. C++ is a good language to learn and understand, mainly because by learning any language you will be better at thinking like a programmer.

    2) If you saw the math that math majors take I doubt you'd say that. With that said, math isn't the biggest part of robotics. You wont need extremely high level math but a solid understanding of differential equations and multivariable calculus helps greatly with mechatronics and system control (damping, movement, etc)

    3) By and large, you can't have robots without circuits. Embedded control, programming, electrical circuit design...all of these things and more are required for a firm grasp on robotics.
  4. Nov 1, 2011 #3
    Ah, lovely. All I know right now is Java, which I hear is pretty much useless in industry (compared to Python, etc). Why do they teach it then D: Programming, I think I can do. Maybe.

    And yeah, I have mad respect for all math majors and will never claim I can do anything they can lol. Just, from a logistical standpoint, I'm technically 1 course away from being able to claim a double major with math. That either says high things about our engineering syllabus, or low things about our math...

    Anywho, thanks for the response!
  5. Nov 7, 2011 #4
    Registration coming up soon; anyone else have some advice/general guidance for me? :D
  6. Nov 8, 2011 #5
    I vote take the intro course and get a feel for the subject. That's why you are in college anyway right?
  7. Nov 8, 2011 #6
    While robotics is not really my area and I'm not really sure what kind of work you're aiming for in that field nor am I familiar with the US education system.

    I've worked mostly in control for robotics and as far as that goes, you can get away with solid knowledge of ODEs, some analytical mechanics (Lagrangian/Hamiltonian) and a general feel for systems/control theory (preferably Lyapunov theory). As far as research goes, expect to find more advanced topics such as differential geometry and lie group theory.

    As far as programming goes, I'd say don't sweat it. Some knowledge of microprocessor programming would be great if wou're doing some actual pratical work but its pretty simple stuff i guess. C/C++ is always a good language to know as most processors I encountered could be programmed in it.
    For simulations, Matlab/Simulink and/or mathematica knowledge would be great too.
  8. Nov 8, 2011 #7
    robotics = compsci + mechE + EE

    so, you dont have to be good at all of them, but a few courses from one or two would be good. ideally circuits and other EE classes would be good, as well as as much programming as you can possibly take.

    def try to take the intro to robotics course, email the prof and see if he thinks you have the prereqs for it
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