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Having finished O-levels, I would like to go into robotics.

  1. Feb 7, 2007 #1
    I would like to go into robotics. I have just finished my o levels. How do I get into robotics? Is it through computer science? What else can I do with a degree in computer science?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2007 #2
    There are many specific robotics related degrees and courses, computer science & robotics etc.

    See Here for example.
  4. Feb 7, 2007 #3
    Joe, I'm no roboticist, but I took a year away from my major, math, do some electrical engineering, and my big picture at the time was robotics, so I can give some small advice.

    From my research, you can get into robotics from a million different angles, but 2 areas seem to dominate the majority. The 1st being comp sci, the 2nd being mechanical eng. Picking between those is picking between control or mechanical design. That's extremely oversimplified, and there is a lot more to it. My advice would be pick one, and make sure you at least take as much of the other as you can. Then go onto to grad school for robotics. You'll definitely need at least a masters (US) to be prominent in this field, IMO.

    Check out the book, RoboSapiens. Be sure to read the info at the MIT AI lab, and about Rodney Brooks. Also check out Carnegie Mellon's robotics webpages.

    Beyond that, you need to read about the major areas, some of which are, AI, Vision, Learning, Control, and the various mech. areas which I'm sorry I don't have more information on.

    What else can you do with a degree in comp sci? I'll ask my friend who's in it, but I think you'll have plenty of options to keep you happy.

    Feel free to ask more questions, I'll try to answer them. I'm very pro robotics. I use to live in Tokyo, and I know Japan is hardcore into robotics. You might want to consider learning that language, seriously.

    Good luck.
  5. Feb 8, 2007 #4
    I have spoken to a couple of Malaysians and they feel robotics is too specialized and I shouldn't do it. Is that true, robotics being too specialized? Thats why I decided to take comp sci because there are still other fields available to me, though I'm not very sure what they are.

    I've gone through the MIT website before, well I tried to, but I can't seem to find much info. Maybe I'm looking for info the wrong way. I'll try again.

    Owen (I'm guessing thats your name?) if I do a degree in comp sci, does it have a module on robotics or something? Or do I have to do my masters to go into robotics? And I'd be really thankful if you could ask your friend about the other things I can do with a comp sci degree, if it's possible. Thank you very, very much in advance.

    edit: sorry, forgot to ask. I did a search on amazon.com for RoboSapiens. Came up with 34 results. Which one are you talking about? http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_pg_1...ds=RoboSapiens&rh=n:1000,k:RoboSapiens&page=1
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  6. Feb 8, 2007 #5
    Joe, yes it's Owen. Sorry, here's the name and author of the book:

    Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species (Hardcover)
    by Peter Menzel

    It's not, a text book, it's a book that talks about all the tons of places where robotics are at and what they are doing. Not too mention, it has tons of cool pics of all the cool bots. :-) (I like that)

    Jeez, ya know, you have an enormous amount of flexibility with with a comp sci degree. IMO, programs that specialize as undergrads are ok, but I think, it's better you get well rounded.

    Why? B/c ALL of science is intereconnected! Period. Don't discuss with me, or I'll ignore you. You really do need to have a broad knowledge. Agreed, you need A degree, but that doesn't mean just b/c you know you want robotics, you do nothing but robotics.

    Consider what Chris was talking about above. I was aware of most of that, and thanks for the reminder Chris, but the thing is, like I said, a there are a MILLION angles to something like robotics. For example, in the book, you'll meet a western physicist working in Japan on robotics.

    My friend does crypto. And I think once quantum computing happens, that that field will explode in a million new directions.

    A common job of a comp sci degree, is softwear eng. Think Dilbert. :-)

    Robotics. I say, do the comp sci. Take mech classes, take advanced math classes (by the way most comp sci people at my school double with applied math). Try to get into a school that has robotics (this key). Then go to graduate school for robotics. But all along the while, don't forget to learn other things. Life will truly amaze you with how intereconnected things are, and the more you know broader things, the more amazing it will be.

    Check out Wikipedia on Computer Science. They'll spell it out well for you. :-)

    Chirs, thanks. I learned about Comp Geom in my Robotics class I took. I was amazed at how much math is involved. My wife and I had a large adavantage in that class, but when it came to building lego robots it didn't much matter. But I know if we had gone on to graduate school in it, it would have really proven worth while. But of course, it's still an option for me. :-)
  7. Feb 8, 2007 #6

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    IMO, I would go the mechanical engineering route and take a lot of math and some computer science on the side. IMHO, the math will be more valuable than the comp sci. As far as Owen's comments about controls versus structures: Mechanical engineers worry about controls a lot. Control of dynamical systems is a major aspect of mechanical engineering.

    I agree with Owen's comments about overly-specializing in your undergraduate studies. Save that for your advanced degree. You will need one if you want to do robotics. Your undergraduate degree should be a well-rounded one, including a number of liberal arts classes.

    One last piece of advice: Apply for a coop or internship program with your school, targeting working at some company that works in the field of robotics. You will be able to see first-hand whether that is something you want to do after you leave college.
  8. Feb 8, 2007 #7


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  9. Feb 8, 2007 #8
    my new advice for you

    Joe. D H has a point. You can equally attack Robotics from the mech side, and both are absolutely needed. And as Chris points out, mathematics is intense in this field. You'll see.

    What I think you should do, while you still have time- B/c I don't think you need to declare your major tomorow- is explore you're style of learning and thinking.

    Ask question like; do I like hands on? do I really love math? do I like to program? do I like questions that have a philosophical base? (in regards to AI)

    You'll have to pick eventually, but don't till you're sure. When you sign up for classes - I assume you'll be an incoming freshman in the fall - makes sure you sign up for a general load that doesn't hurt any path. That is, take Calc, take Calc based Physics, take intro to Comp Sci classes, and take the intro to Mech Eng classes.

    Don't be afraid of the workload. It's managable. Stay focused on the goal (Robotics), and constantly evaluate what you like/dislike.

    If in the end, you somehow hate robotics? well, don't worry, all these degrees are certain job canidates. And all these degrees lead to many other areas and graduate schools.

    The most important thing, is you learn "yourself". And of course, be disciplined, honest, and brave in the face of the things you don't know. Enjoy the ride!
  10. Feb 8, 2007 #9
    Its interesting alot of you are syaing computer science, but why not computer engineering? At Penn State Computer Engineers are the one who do all the robotics, i'm a computer scienctist and we can go into it but the CE have alot more experience with the EE courses and low level programmming in different flavours of asm and vhdl/verilog
  11. May 31, 2007 #10
    Hello all, I was searching the forums for topics concerning robotics and stumbled upon this one and since I am in quite a similar situation to the author I decided to "revive" it.

    I am studying for my computer engineering degree right now here in Greece. Need 2 more years to finish. Four years now I have also been studying japanese and have taken the 2nd kyu of the JPLT(for those who don't know it, it is just a japanese language proficiency test).

    Computers are great, I love programming but my dream... goal ...was always concerning robotics. That is why I studied japanese on the mean time. The problem is how do you make that jump? How do I educate myself on these fields such as engineering, physics, mechatronics and all the other things that robotics would need.
    I just want to make the jump from programming a personal computer to robotics, just like the original author of this thread did. I must admit I found some sources in the internet but not something particular, not something solid to start reading or something to practise on.

    Any help regarding this matter would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  12. May 31, 2007 #11

    If you passed 2nd kyu, then you have nothing to worry about my friend. That test is one of the hardest on the planet. I've studied Japanese for years, and I even lived there. The average educated Nihonjin is 2nd kyu fluent.

    Go google Wasada University in Japan. They pretty much started this whole biz in the 70's. They have an impressive museum online of their past accomplishments.

    Well, to answer your questions... You're already involved if your researching it on your own. The next steps are go buy a legomindstorms kit, and a Robosapien if you have an electronic skills.

    As far as daigaku goes, well, comp sci is a great place to be for Robotics too. If not the main place to be. What you have to ask yourself is, do you want to build the brains or the body? That's an uber-pathetic-oversimplification, but it'll work.

    Possibly you should take more math. A lot more math. More math than you thought you'd ever take. Go wikipedia computational geometry - they use that for motion planning. And then start googling Artificial Intelligence, because that's what robots use to deal with their world. Another field available to you is computer vision. This is a big big field. And it's getting a lot of support.

    If you don't know about Rodney Brooks and MIT's AI lab go get educated. He has led the paradigm shift in robotics in the West. In the East, Sensei Kano of Wasada is the biggest name. (I think is name was Kano).

    By the way, it's a smart move to study Japanese for Robotics. But in general, they're very very technologically advanced. So being conversant in Nihongo is a smart move in general if you want to be in these cutting edge technology fields.
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  13. May 31, 2007 #12
    Thanks for the swift reply. You have really helped me. I have already taken some steps by buying The Robot builder's bonanza but while trying to do the projects it has in there I understood that I like experience in handling materials such as plastic, wood and metal. That book kind of took them for granted.

    I was thinking of buying a lego mindstorms kit but I thought it was kind of childish. Seems it is not. As for Robosapiens, I have no idea what it is. I will google it.

    As for AI, I can already program in LISP and ProLog due to my university courses, but I have never programmed anything other than a personal computer as mentioned above, hence the only AI I have made is the enemy AI in a strategy game I am working on.

    I can very well understand the question brains or body, which I can also very easily answer. Mostly brains but I think you need to have knowledge about the other part. The body, knowledge which I lack and which is not taught in any classes in my university. But I am also not sure if a book or the internet can help with it.

    So , I guess I should first buy a lego mindstorm kit and start experimenting?
  14. May 31, 2007 #13
    ...o levels?
  15. Jun 3, 2007 #14

    Chris Hillman

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    First, ditto the recommendation of Robo sapiens, which should give some idea of what its really like to work in some of the more prominent labs (well, in the U.S.--- I take it that you are in the UK). See also http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/06/01/tech-nasarobotsubdepthx-20070601.html for what is to my mind the most exciting application. (The nastiest, but unfortunately closely related: semiautonomous lethal robots for urban warfare. One of the downsides of working in robotics is that one might wind up facing stark ethical choices.) Years ago I worked on a presentation to the ESA sketching a master plan for robotic exploration of Europa. That presentation never took place (AFAIK), but it is nonetheless gratifying to see that others apparently recognized many of the same common sense principles I advocated!

    Second, I'd recommend to any ambitious engineering student that they insist upon learning as much math as possible. For robotics, the quaternion algebra, topology, manifolds, Groebner basis methods applied to invariants of finite groups, Lie groups, as well as more obvious topics are all important, and I'm sure I've left some out. As you probably know, there are subdisciplines within robotics which require specialized techniques, e.g robot vision.
  16. Jun 3, 2007 #15
    Chris( I assume this is your name),

    it is very nice to see people with actual experience posting here. As I posted above I am a computer engineering student and I want to go to robotics when I get my diploma at computer engineering. Thing is, my university has no course close to robotics. It has on AI though , and I have gotten them.

    Thing is, I fear that by trying to move on to robotics without trying something on my own would not be wise. How can one experiment on his own in robotics, simple stuff ofcourse ( like maybe lego mindstoms?) but yet something to gain experience programming or experimenting with something close to robotics and more further away from pc programming?
  17. Jun 3, 2007 #16
    I would think a Comp Eng would have a better transition than a COmp Sci into robotics.

    At my school, the cap stone project/course is purely on robotics. The comp sci can take this major but it requires you have EE courses as well which Comp Sci isn't required to take.
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