For engineers with a traditional background in mechanical, electrical or computer engineering, specializing in IAS can accelerate their career progression and potentially make them more money.
Engineers Meet Industry Demand By Growing Their Robotics & IAS Expertise
Article from | University of Cincinnati Online
From the robots working 24/7 in an Amazon warehouse to drones deployed by the military to self-driving cars, intelligent autonomous systems (IAS) are beginning to infiltrate almost every business sector and industry.
Automated technologies like these must adapt and get smarter to optimize their usage. The IAS evolution requires engineering professionals to do the same, by growing their expertise to stay current and bring this knowledge to their workplace.
Mastering these evolving technologies can make an engineer more marketable, too. For engineers with a traditional background in mechanical, electrical or computer engineering, specializing in IAS can accelerate their career progression and potentially make them more money.
An Engineer-Educator’s Perspective on a Robotics-Focused Master’s
In his Assistant Dean of E-Learning role at University of Cincinnati (UC), Eugene Rutz works with engineering professionals on a daily basis. He oversees three online Master of Engineering (MEng) programs and knows, first-hand, the value an understanding of IAS brings to engineers.
As the Program Director for UC’s Robotics & Intelligent Autonomous Systems degree, Rutz is excited to see so many engineers interested in the IAS master’s. “Our program is industry-focused (not research-specific), forward-looking and meant for working engineers,” Rutz says.
With Rutz’s connection to UC’s other online master’s programs for engineers, he says the typical student is an engineer with 5–10 years of experience and that students come not only from across the Ohio region but the country, as well.
Rutz says students appreciate not traveling to and from school to get their master’s. They also like the fact UC’s IAS program is well-rounded, designed for an optimal online learning experience and broadly appeals to engineers working in consumer and commercial businesses and the military. “UC’s reputation for being a leader in our engineering programs is well-known,” Rutz says, “and that’s an edge we work hard to keep. We’re building out centers of excellence focused on Industry 4.0 and robotics to ensure we have the leading technology, programs and faculty expertise all in place.”
Business Demand for Autonomous Intelligent Systems
The online program’s robotics and intelligent systems emphasis are centered on the business need to add to the value chain — “how we make, inspect and deliver things,” Rutz says. “The Robotics & IAS degree will enable an engineer to more readily contribute to what’s still an emerging industry, where businesses of all types need autonomous processes that don’t rely on people having to do menial tasks.”
Knowing that non-engineers may have concerns about robots overtaking everything, Rutz emphasizes that people will still be involved in the design, control and quality aspects. “Robots are programmed to do a set of instructions, and that’s why they're so good on assembly lines,” he says. “They can do repetitive actions consistently a million times without tiring or needing a break. Intelligent and autonomous systems extend the actions the robots will make, but people will always be the foundational element directing and controlling what happens.”
Master-Level Courses for Engineers
The majority of people drawn to UC’s online Master of Engineering programs already have an undergraduate degree in mechanical or electrical engineering. Rutz says that, while it’s less common, someone with a bachelor’s degree in physics or computer engineering could also be interested in UC’s engineering master’s programs.
The IAS program’s curriculum, all fully available online, comprises 10 courses. Rutz highlights the robotics course sequence as being particularly relevant. It consists of an introduction to the technologies enabling robots, a course on robot design and control, and a course on intelligent robotic systems and the cutting-edge research activities in the field.
Other courses in the 30-hour master’s program include:
Interdisciplinary Innovation for Engineers – This course emphasizes the innovation competencies and processes needed to add value to organizations in a dynamic economy. The material enables students to develop foundational attitudes, skills and knowledge for both core business and engineering innovation functions.
Intelligent Industrial Controllers – Here, students will study the current technology and use of intelligent industrial controllers used in electric energy, manufacturing, material handling/processing, mass transit and other industrial plants.
Lean Six Sigma – Businesses need people who know how to solve problems and recommend how to eliminate waste. And though Lean Six Sigma is often associated with manufacturing, its principles can be applied to engineering processes, including intelligent autonomous systems.
Capstone Project – Near the end of the program, students will work on their capstone, partnering with faculty members or other students focused on projects that will benefit them at work or solving other engineering problems.
Key Industries That Rely on Robots, Salary Potential for Engineers
While almost every business could benefit from intelligent autonomous systems, there are certain places where engineers can find an environment already primed for adding this technology or optimizing the investments already made in this area.
Rutz singles out a few industries, including manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, foodservice and the government. When asked about the salary potential for engineers with expertise in this specialty area, Rutz says salary depends on several factors, including an engineer’s years of experience, the company type and geographical location of the business. (For more information on earning potential, explore Salary.com’s interactive tool showing robotics engineer salary averages, or read UC’s Mechanical Engineering Salaries with a Master’s Degree article.)
Future Looks Bright for Robotics Engineers
Rutz sees no end in sight for the high business value of using intelligent systems in the workplace. “The demand will continue to grow,” he says, “with new industries and smaller businesses adopting this technology.”
UC is well-positioned to meet the needs of today’s engineers who want to grow their expertise in robotics and IAS. And with the University’s future-focus mindset, the rich programs we offer engineers today will be complemented by exciting, yet-to-be-developed programs, such as mechatronics engineering and artificial intelligence and human factors, to maintain UC’s appeal as a university many engineers are proud to be associated with.
About The University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers an online MEng in Robotics & Intelligent Autonomous System program, which positions students to be leaders within the robotics and autonomous systems industry. For more information, visit our program information page, or call 866-629-6075 to speak with an engineering program specialist.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow
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