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Robotics industry with BSc or BE

  1. Apr 13, 2014 #1
    First, a bit about myself. As a future career I would like to work in the robotics industry or aerospace, building stuff. Unfortunately I failed to secure a BE position at the intended university. So I'm doing BSc Physics and Comp Sci double major.

    This university will be taking in 30 people in the second semester for BE and speaking of numbers, apparently around 350 to 400 (highest ever) people will be going for it. Thats equivalent to the second year med entry rate which is around 8% (same university). GPA wise around A average to get in.

    I've seen first year engineering work and I find them interesting and urge to solve them, where as current BSc physics does not really interest me. Comp Sci has been alright so far. Pretty easy and bit boring. But will get much harder.

    I’m a realist, based on current academic performance its unlikely that I will get in. So at this point (on mid semester break) I’m unsure whether to continue doing BSc double major or move university if I fail to secure a position. Unfortunately other universities do not have the specialisation I want: Engineering Science or Mechatronics.

    Is doing physics really dead end? I hear a lot that you have to do masters to get a job. Also if I wanted to be in robotics or aerospace industry building stuff I am sure I will be better off having a BE but that road just seems way too tough…

    I want to work in robotics and aerospace industry, failed to secure BE position, doing BSc Physics and Comp Sci double major. If fail to transfer to engineering, should I move uni and do engineering (doesn't have specialisation I want: Mechatronics, Engi Science) or continue on doing double major.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2014 #2
    The design of robots demands a multidisciplinary approach. There is the math of motion, the physics of the job at hand, the actuator design itself, the materials and strengths you need, the software design, safety aspects, communications aspects, electrical aspects, and so many more things.

    The whole mechatronics thing is a sales ploy. If you really think you'll graduate and then instantly transition to the design of welding robots, you're in for a rude shock. No school can truly teach you everything you need to know to build an economical, practical robot. We're not playing with Lego Mindstorms any more. I liken this to learning how a lawn mower engine works, and then being sent to design a large natural gas turbine plant.

    So what do you do? Well, your foundation is actually not a bad approach. I'm not sure why your school of choice requires such high marks to get in to the engineering program. Frankly, I've met some straight A students who couldn't engineer a screwdriver. This is not about grades, this is about having a complete understanding of the project at hand.

    Academics are very good for instilling theory and the mathematics foundation you need to do your engineering, but the actual work itself is almost the polar opposite of what they do in those halls of learning. The culture shock I have seen in engineers who make that transition without coop program work experience is beyond description.

    So work on your degree, and then apply for the work. Unless you encounter a company run by morons, you'll probably do okay with an entry level position. But the time to get that experience is NOW. Your summer jobs should reflect what you're studying for. Don't deliver pizzas. Get out there, and introduce yourself to those companies offering internships. They're out there. You just have to find them.
  4. Apr 14, 2014 #3


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    I second JakeBrodskyPE's advice. I would also note that one does not need to have a mechatronics engineering degree to pursue a work in robotics. As Jake had stated earlier, robotics is a multidisciplinary field with many different components involved (design of actuators, design of software to handle motion and sensing in robots, etc.)

    One of my first jobs out of graduate school was to work as a statistician for an engineering compnay specializing in robotics and automation. One of my co-workers had his MS in computer science, specializing in machine learning -- he was involved in the design of expert systems for robots involved in defence-related work. So your background in computer science and physics could fit in rather nicely there. I would definitely advise you to look into internships for tech positions like these, which could put your foot in the door, so to speak.
  5. Apr 15, 2014 #4
    Its because so many people wants to do engineering...

    Anyways, I really hope that I am on the right track. My concern is that I am not sure if I will be able to get any internships in any robotics related jobs. The only sort of official robotics work I can do at this point is to be involved with VEX robotics competition, which I can just join the club from the uni.

    I do side work projects like building quadcopters or fitting with Arduinos but it has no practical application at this point. They are just expensive crap toys.

    Whereas engineering degree requires practical work experience from your chosen field of specialisation. This means that by graduation those with BE will have few hundred hours of practical work time where as I will have virtually 0 hours. Also what we learn to get the degree as well, engineering, they teach you how to use CAD and stuff but BSc obviously has none of those…
  6. Apr 15, 2014 #5
    1. Your experience is not bad. Building around an Arduino and a quadcopter is a decent start. The toy factor is not the issue. As far as any employer is concerned a fresh college graduate with little work experience is barely acquainted with the theory. That they come with experience using the theory on toys is a big bonus.

    Nobody will give you a welding robot to work with until you demonstrate at least a passing familiarity with the concepts. These sorts of projects do more to demonstrate such proficiency than almost anything else.

    2. Engineering degrees are often devoid of anything practical except perhaps a senior design project. Let me repeat that in other words: The engineering degrees are merely proof that you're book smart. I liken it to studying aerodynamics versus flying an airplane. There is a practical side to this that no school can impart.

    3. CAD? Knowing how to use CAD is like having an artist teach you how to draw with a pencil. It's not about the damned pencil technology. It's about what is in your head. You should have a very clear idea of what your drawing will look like so that the CAD aspect is just an incidental detail. You could learn most of what you need to know about CAD in just a couple weeks of study.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
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