Asee peer logo

The New Robotics Engineering Bs Program At Wpi

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Curriculum Innovation

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1250.1 - 13.1250.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Michael Ciaraldi Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

David Cyganski Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Michael Gennert Worcester Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

author page

Michael Demetriou

author page

Fred Looft

author page

William Michalson Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Bradley Miller Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Eben Cobb Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Lance Schachterle Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Kenneth Stafford Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Yiming Rong Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Gretar Tryggvason Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

James Van de Ven Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The New Robotics Engineering BS Program at WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute 100 Institute Rd. Worcester, MA 01609


In the spring of 2007, Worcester Polytechnic Institute introduced a BS degree program in Robotics Engineering. The degree program is a collaborative effort, involving faculty from the departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The motivation for establishing the program is two-fold: needs of the rapidly growing robotics industry and student interest as demonstrated by numerous high school robotics competitions. The program relies in part on already existing courses, but the core curriculum consists of five new “unified robotics engineering” courses. Although Robotics Engineering is not recognized as a distinct engineering field by ABET, the program is designed to be accreditable under the “General Engineering” ABET criteria. While the program is less than a year old, there is already significant student interest.

1.0 Introduction

Robotics—the combination of sensing, computation and actuation in the real world—is on the verge of rapid growth, driven by both supply and demand. The supply side is driven by decreasing cost and increasing availability of sensors, computing devices, and actuators. The demand side is driven by national needs for defense and security, elder care, automation of household tasks, customized manufacturing, and interactive entertainment. Engineers working in the robotics industry are mostly trained in one of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering. However, as an inherently interdisciplinary activity, no single discipline provides the breadth demanded by robotics in the future. Truly smart robots rely on information processing, decision systems and artificial intelligence (computer science), sensors, computing platforms, and communications (electrical engineering) and actuators, linkages, and mechatronics (mechanical engineering). To realize products, some training in management is also important and we argue that a science and social science background could be important as well as applications in the biological sciences and medicine, for example, offer enormous obvious opportunities for micro-robotics, tele-robotics and agile prostheses and advanced human interaction techniques.

Many Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs offer minors and other forms of robotics course concentrations within traditional programs. It is our thesis, however, that only a fully multidisciplinary program consisting of a core of courses in which all these components are intertwined on a daily basis is appropriate for education of the leaders and entrepreneurs needed by this nascent industry. For this reason, we have recently introduced a program leading to a bachelor degree in Robotics Engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. This is, as far as we know, the first such program in the United States. The program was approved by the faculty in the fall of 2006 and the WPI Board of Trustees in March of 2007. Although the window between the formal approval of the program

Ciaraldi, M., & Cyganski, D., & Gennert, M., & Demetriou, M., & Looft, F., & Michalson, W., & Miller, B., & Cobb, E., & Schachterle, L., & Stafford, K., & Rong, Y., & Tryggvason, G., & Van de Ven, J. (2008, June), The New Robotics Engineering Bs Program At Wpi Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3644

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015