WPI to offer 1st major in robotics


Way to go WPI. Good Job Ken.

I have a friend who is a freshman there with plans to do the robotics major. I think it’s pretty cool and a good way to get more interdisciplinary engineers.

WPI also has a video game design major… :cool:

I see two sides of this:

The initial reaction I had was that this was a great opportunity to learn more about robotics. It eliminates the slack that you would get in a straight EE or CS degree, assuming you are going into purely robotics. However, what happens if the robotics market becomes saturated? You now have a fairly specific degree that can’t be applied outside of that one field, whereas with an EE or CS you could more than likely get a job doing something else.

Just something to think about.

So, aerospace engineers, automotive engineers, biomechanical engineers (and the like) are becoming saturated, and can’t find new jobs? As with most undergraduate degrees, I think you spend 80-90% of your college career learning the core material. The rest of your degree you can “specialize” in one concentration or another. Since I haven’t seen WPI’s curriculum, I can’t comment on what the program offers, but I’d be fairly certain that the education goes a bit beyond FIRST robotics and simple automation.

Your degree out of college, specifically with respect to engineering, does not limit you to one job for the rest of your life. A specific degree certainly helps you get a specific job you’re looking for, but it’s not going to limit you by any means. In fact, I wish I learned more about circuits, programming, and EE-type basics back in school (I’m an ME.) It definitely would have made me much MORE marketable coming out of college.

If anyone has anymore information about WPI’s robotics program, I’d love to hear more about.


This is what several engineering professors have told me when I prodded them about a robotics bachelors:

" Undergraduate study is for experimentation (learning, learning…) and a broad learning experience. Study something like robotics as a graduate."

I agree with this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as Mike said, a robotics degree is good for one thing. Robotics. And if you can’t get a job in robotics, you’re more or less SOL. An ME or EE or CE can get a job in thousands of different fields, everything from light bulbs to air conditioners to furniture design, and there’s a always a job somewhere. Not necessarily so with robotics.

Secondly, there is a reason that there aren’t any robotics bachelors. Until very recently, the only robotics opportunities were through a graduate degree anyways! As more and more applications grow, there is a larger market for not only products, but personnel to design them. However, we have not seen the huge demand yet for engineers fresh out of school to go into robotics!

I’m sure WPI’s program is good, but as far as being marketable right out of school, it seems best to broaden your options. Doesn’t mean you won’t get a job with a robotics degree or won’t get a robotics job with an ME degree, you just have more options.

It seems the best option is to pursue either ME, CE, or EE, and then concentrate or minor in robotics if you really want to. Carnegie Mellon offers a minor in robotics for the technical degree kids, and it looks pretty promising. Even they, the only university in the world to offer a PhD in robotics, do not offer an undergraduate major in it.

Wow! Back in the dark days when I went to WPI there was only one robotics course available.

Robotics might be considered an advanced study topic (i.e., graduate degree program), but mechatronics is not. There have been undergraduate mechatronics degree programs in many parts of the world for several years now. And their graduates do get jobs.

The official press release as covered by Forbes.com:


First of all, wow! Can’t believe they actually started one of these programs. It’s really cool that they are integrating a plethora of engineering elements into the curriculum (MechE, EE, BioE (in biomimetics), and CE (computer engineering)). The field is really hot and is going to get really hot. It looks really fun, but I have one question:

Will you be able to get a job or internship with a Robotics degree outside of the WPI area or will employers still demand you get a degree in a more traditional field? (This is a question that a lot of Bioengineering programs face because even though there will be a demand for them down the road, it is harder to find jobs in BioE or BME now, so getting the degree in a traditional field will help, especially at colleges (e.g. Duke) where the field may either be too specialized and/or where the program is not strong enough (does not give students both a strong background in fundamentals and engineering design experience).)

I’m so happy I decided to apply there now.