Robotics and automation is a really amazing field to work in, and big changes are happening right now that will have an equally big effect on job prospects in North America and overseas. Remarkable inventions like self-driving cars, legged robots built like cheetahs, new manufacturing robots, and 3D printers all point to one thing: robots are going to play important roles in all of our lives.
So why are these changes happening?
First, more and more devices are connecting to the Internet. Your smartphone was the first great example of this. And now cars, home smoke detectors, shoes and baby monitors are connecting, too. This is opening up new and exciting markets for creative-minded people.
Second, the way we make things is changing. “Maker” groups gather like-minded people in a community to brainstorm and experiment in the emerging technology space. They are harnessing easy-to-use electronics and inexpensive 3D printers to create new machines and robots. These technologies enable non-engineers to do things that only engineers could do in the past. It’s also augmented the skill-sets of today’s engineers, allowing them to design products faster and better because the parts can be made in-house rather than having them outsourced overseas.
So how can you prepare for a career in robotics and automation?
The traditional route is through university engineering or computer science programs. These will give you the best formal and widely-accepted background among traditional employers. However, schools like Ryerson University are hosting “Maker Spaces” and “Design Zones” in programs like New Media, Interior Design and Architecture that could also prove appealing for a future roboticist.