If you’ve got a head for science and a nose for numbers, then you could be in line for one of the most exciting careers in the ever-widening fields of choice in technology. You don’t have to be Einstein to know that careers are changing almost daily as new technologies spring into life, but you do need your wits about you if you are nurturing even a glimmer of interest in the field of robotics.

What is a Robotics Engineer? Definitely a tall order.

  • A robotics engineer is a highly trained professional who conceives, designs, builds, and maintains robots or robotic devices programmed to provide a service.
  • A robot has to be designed with sensors so that it can glean information about the environment, and then purposed to react appropriately to each situation. In other words, the robot has to display a level of intelligence to match its function.
  • To do this, a robotics engineer will need a natural curiosity for how things work, backed by a passion for taking things apart, and building new things.
  • As you develop your interest and passion for robotics you will need to build supporting skills – because to become a master in this sphere, you will have to wear many hats: a Maths fundi with a mastery of electrical/mechanical engineering, computer science, and hardware designing. Then you add into the mix: innovation, adaptability and the ability to embrace new problems and discover solutions.
  • It’s a tough new field that calls for not only mathematical aptitude, qualifications and a love of engineering, but will also screen you for good communication skills, resilience and tenacity, and sound problem-solving abilities. And you can drop in a whole lot of other stuff into the bag: extensive knowledge of software and hardware, AI, mechanics and automation.

Taking perspective to the next level

  • At the most basic level there are core subjects that you need: Mathematics, Physics, Mechanical/Electrical Engineering, Computer Science. Knowledge in science in general is useful, but Physics in particular provides foundational knowledge in energy, electrical circuits, mechanics and material science.
  • Automation tends to raise anxiety levels about the stability of jobs in the future. There is no doubt that automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally change the role people play in work, but effects on future work opportunities are complex, and much still remains in the depths of the crystal ball.
  • For the optimistic, AI and robotics hold the promise of productivity and greater efficiency, transforming many industries and providing scope for new industries to emerge. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that by 2025, technology will create 12 million more jobs than it terminates.
  • Displaced workers will find new employment through training and skills enrichment. Investment channels in these new areas will grow. It’s time to see AI as a useful possibility rather than a potential problem. The optimistic view sees AI increasing human capability rather than simply replacing workers.
  • Currently AI is successfully infiltrating the world of digital information and communications, as well as financial services, healthcare, and a range of transport industries. As companies invest in operations where humans and machines collaborate in innovative ways, career opportunities in robotics and automation are set to increase exponentially.

Top jobs rising to meet the wave of newly-qualified robotics engineers

Machine Learning Engineer: Computer programmers with strong software skills who can apply complex predictive models, process large sets of data, and use natural language processing to program machines to perform specific tasks that support business goals.

Data Scientist: Getting to the heart of AI, automation, and machine learning. This primary role involves analysing, visualising, and modelling large volumes of data to build and implement new machine learning models to support sound business decisions.

Business Intelligence Developer: Research and plan solutions for problems within a business, and increase profitability by analysing complex data in order to design better storage systems, and the collection of information regarding market and business trends.

Software Developer: A software developer oversees computer development programs for a business, and ensures that the best-suited software is provided. It’s a discipline set to grow faster than any other occupation within the next ten years.

Robotics Scientist: Robotics involves designing, building, and programming physical robots that are able to interact with the physical world. Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science, which involves developing computer programs to complete tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. AI algorithms can tackle learning, perception, problem-solving, language-understanding, and logical reasoning.

AI Research Scientist: At the developmental cusp of AI and ML (machine learning) applications, an AI research scientist operates across several disciplines including: deep learning, computer perception, applied math, and computational statistics.

To take you to the starting line for any of these careers, you will need to study hard in Maths and Science. Find free, or cheap courses online that will help you advance. And examine the numerous avenues for learning programming languages and valuable courses that cover robotics, physics, or the basic knowledge of other disciplines such as electrical / mechanical engineering. Robotics is a tall order – but if you have the aptitude and application, there’s no reason you can’t reach the top.