June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1250.1 - 13.1250.11
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.
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. https://peer.asee.org/3644
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