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Learn robotics with online courses

From smart home devices to the intelligent machines used in the automotive industry, robots affect our everyday lives. Robotics engineers are responsible for ensuring their functionality. Learn about robotics with online courses delivered through edX.

What is robotics?

Robotics is a branch of engineering focused on the design, development, and implementation of robots, or autonomous machines meant to replicate human effort.Footnote 1 At its core, robotics combines computer science with mechanical and electrical engineering to accomplish a variety of tasks.Footnote 2 This encompasses everything from the design of neural networks and algorithms that program robots to product development and testing.

The field continues to grow with the advent of big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Machines are now capable of processing large quantities of data and learning with minimal human interaction.Footnote 3 For example, the sensors on today’s autonomous vehicles process thousands of data points each second, along with location data from the web, to move a vehicle safely along its route.Footnote 4

Robotics engineers may have background knowledge or professional experience in adjacent fields. Robotics projects and applications can be found across a large number of industries, from automotive production to military drone operations and even space exploration.

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 Robotics for beginners course curriculum

Learning robotics will require gaining knowledge across multiple disciplines. Foundational robotics courses may cover modeling, kinematics, and equations of motion, before moving on to more advanced topics such as planning and control. edX offers many online robotics courses for learners to gain hands-on experience and learn how to program robots.

Robotics draws from various branches of knowledge. Many robotics tutorials that teach the principles can be applied to different career paths. Learners interested in engineering may benefit from learning about mathematical optimization within the context of robotics. Classes may delve into topics such as linear problems, machine learning for optimization, and operations research.

Learners will likely walk away from a beginner robotics course with a basic understanding of these concepts and ideally a passion for solving complex problems through sophisticated design.

Careers in robotics

There are many options for career paths in the field of industrial robotics. You can apply your robotics knowledge to fields such as engineering, construction, deployment, healthcare, automated management, and maintenance.

While robots are often designed to replace humans who perform certain tasks, they still require human interaction. This may come in the form of initial development and coding, testing and patching, or maintaining robots.

Two common robotics job titles include robotics engineers and robotics technicians. Robotics engineers build robotic applications, debug programs, process sensor data, and create program backups.Footnote 5 Robotics technicians install, program, repair, and modify robotic equipment and systems.Footnote 6

Professionals interested in this field can pursue positions in robotics development and innovation, or specialize in the maintenance of the millions of robotic machines already in use around the world. There may be additional opportunities to work in robotics as an account manager, sales representative, or data scientist. Each of these roles can benefit from general robotics skills and knowledge.

If you plan to pursue a career in robotics engineering, take time to peruse job descriptions and their requirements. Learning robotics on its own does not necessarily mean you have all the skills required for the jobs listed above. Some of these roles may require additional robotics training or higher education, like a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field such as engineering. 

How to become a robotics engineer online

A course in robotics fundamentals, machine learning, or artificial intelligence will help learners gain a clear understanding of the field. Once they have the basics covered, aspiring robotics engineers should hone their skills across the disciplines of math, electronics, and computer science. Many robotics trainings are self-paced, so learners can work toward becoming a robotics engineer on their own time.

A bachelor’s in computer or data science, mechanical and industrial engineering, or electrical and computer engineering can be helpful when pursuing robotics engineering jobs. Having some coding, mathematics, and engineering knowledge can also help you qualify for many of these roles. For this reason, you might consider gaining prerequisite skills like coding or data analytics through an online boot camp.

Beyond having sharp technical skills, a well-rounded robotics engineer should also have strong problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking skills.Footnote 7 As you start exploring job postings, you’ll find that every job is different and each company has their own set of hiring requirements.

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