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Expanding Robotics Minor Program Opens More Career Options

March 3, 2014

Robotics Project

Senior Year Project: Nick Aeleen Daniel Kahl, and Dan D’Avello work on their robot, which must complete an obstacle course and drop a weighted object over a 3-inch wall while being controlled by an operator who is over 50 miles away. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Students who love robotics can find an outlet for that interest in Rose-Hulman’s multidisciplinary minor academic program in robotics.

Alumni from the FIRST Robotics program seek to continue that type of hands-on, problem-solving activities in college. Rose-Hulman meets that demand by offering the minor in robotics since 2010.

“Our minor in robotics is a great draw for students,” says Carlotta Berry, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. She adds that robotics is much more than just fun. “It’s not always about the robot; it’s what the robot allows you to do,” she says.

And, robots give a lot. The skills gained in mathematics, engineering, and computer science/computer engineering open many career opportunities. Rose-Hulman graduates earning the minor in robotics have gone onto work for Fortune 500 companies, become entrepreneurs, and attend top-level graduate schools.

Rose-Hulman’s program features a senior design project in which students working together to solve a real-world project with a client or prepare for a national robotics competition. This year, teams created a robotic base to move large-scale set pieces for theatrical stage productions, made a race track simulator exhibit for the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, and created a robot that can complete an obstacle course with an operator who is 50 miles away.

The quality of these projects is “impressive,” according to David Fisher, PhD, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

“Our robotics program keeps getting better every year. The students keep exceeding our expectations—in the classroom and in the work on their design projects,” he says.

In addition to the robotics minor, Rose-Hulman also has a robotics team that has participated in national competitions for more than 10 years. First, there was the International Aerial Robotics Competition. Now, the team is contending for honors in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition and MATE-ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) competition.