Robotics, the next big career path

Robotics, the next big career path


Ever imagined that the bike you ride, the car you drive, the bus or train you travel in of even the clothes and groceries you buy has robots and robotics involved in it at some point or the other? Well it true. Robotics has grown far beyond the realm of fantasy, imagination and sci-fi. What we remember as robots being toys with blinking lights and mechanical sounds or as one would remember from the Hollywood blockbuster Robocop, are now left far behind. Robots and Robotics is far more firmly entrenched into our day to day life, though invisible and working in the background.

Let’s first define Robotics. Robotics is a field of engineering that deal with design and application of robots and the use of computer for their manipulation and processing.

How to be an expert?

Robotics being an inter-disciplinary course, students who have completed their graduation in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, instrumentation engineering or computer engineering with an interest in robotics and artificial intelligence can pursue a career in Robotics.  

In India, there are few institutes imparting the state-of-the-art professional skills wherein people from industry and also the student community are trained on different aspects of robotics. Different types of courses from Basic Robot Programming to Expert Robot programming are being offered.

A course in Robotics trains and educates an individual in artificial intelligence, computer aided manufacturing, computer integrated manufacturing system, computational geometry, robot motion planning, digital electronics and micro-processors, robot manipulators.

Courses in Robotics are offered by leading institutes like IIT - Kanpur; National Institute of Technology - University of Hyderabad (M.Tech in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics); Kuka Training Centre - Pune; Jadavpur University - Kolkata; BITS - Pilani; Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning - Prasanthinilayam in Tamil Nadu and PSG College of Technology - Coimbatore. These are a few names.

Avenues for you

The scope for a career in Robotics in India is tremendous and people can explore career opportunities in diversified sectors ranging from space research organisations to pure manufacturing companies. Apart from Automobile companies, which account for 70 per cent of Robotics applications in India, other sectors like foundry, food, logistics, healthcare and entertainment are also aggressively looking at adopting robots.

The big ones

Blue chip companies like Tata Motors, Hyundai Motors, Reliance Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, etc have separate designated departments to handle the programming and functioning of robotics.

Many small and medium enterprises in India are also warming up to the idea of investing in robotics to increase their global competitiveness.

The cases in point are the two prominent industries of the SME sector - Forging and Diamond. Robots contribute substantially towards rationalising cost-effective automation solutions in all areas of the forging industry. Whatever the application, be it loading and unloading of die-casting machines, deflashing presses or machining centres; spraying; finishing processes like milling, sawing and grinding, or handling hot, heavy forgings, these robots meet every need including applications in harsh ambient conditions.  Trends suggest that internationally the diamond industry is moving towards very high precision workmanship. Robots play a critical role for this industry which is pegged at Rs. 60,000 crore.

Robots actually help SMEs to transform their competitiveness and deliver significantly enhanced levels of productivity, efficiency and profitability.

Robots are also used in the field of nuclear science, sea-exploration, servicing of transmission electric signals, designing of bio-medical equipments etc. A candidate having an M.E. degree in Robotics can get job opportunities in space research organisations like ISRO and also in industries which manufacture microchips.

Job opportunities also exist in Indian Institute of Technology for doing extensive research work in artificial intelligence.

Furthermore, The Indian Institute of Chemical Biology offers openings research fellowships in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

Internationally, a Robotics Engineer can get employment opportunities abroad to program, troubleshoot and maintain robots; Research fellowships are also available in research institute emphasising on humanoid robotics and computational neuroscience.

Companies like Intel recruit robotics and artificial intelligence specialists for microchip manufacturing. The Robotics Industrial Association in North America provides job opportunities in robot manufacturing and maintenance systems integration. NASA is the ultimate job destination for those interested in applying robotics to space science.
While Japan is often thought of as most adept at the use of robots, India now labelled as the new manufacturing hub of the world is emerging as the top market for Robots.
Future of Robotics:
Ever consider the Future of Robotics? What will it really be like? Did Science Fiction get it right, if not how close were they? Will robots be everywhere and involved in every aspect of life? Will robots eventually take over all the modern Factories; will robots be making robots too? Which sectors will we see robots excel in?

* Robots in Commerce - Retail, Services, Fields,
*Robots in the home - Maids, Washing Car, Doing Chores, Mowing the  Lawn,
*Robots in Security - Guards, Guard Dogs, Bomb Sniffers, Bomb Squads,
*Robots to the Rescue - FEMA, Earthquake, Hurricanes, Wild Fires
* Robots for the Weather and Environment - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
* Robots in Transportation - Light Rail, Cars, Aircraft
* Robots in Distribution - Trains, Warehouses
* Robotic Androids - Assistants, Mentors, Educators
* Robots and Artificial Intelligence - Thinking Machines and Systems
* Robots in the Military - Smart Munitions, Net-Centric Systems, UAVs

With the global robotic industry pegged at $17.6 billion this industry is expected to take rapid growth strides in the future.

In India, the industry is expected to grow at two to two-and-a-half times the global average with robots worth about Rs 3500 crore already being sold so far.  If working with computers and mechanics sounds interesting and if you have science and math skills, then pursuing a career in Robotics might be just right for you. If you like to build new things and fiddle around with electronic gadgets then consider robotics as a career option.  

The exponential growth of robots in India is fuelling the demand for skilled manpower that can design, build, operate and repair robots and robotic machines.  Robotics is now emerging as the new hot destination where more and more graduates are establishing lucrative careers.

The writer is Managing Director, Kuka India

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