Which schools have great undergraduate robotics programs?

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Ipek Bakir, Consultant & Researcher, Cost-Benefit & Effectiveness Studies of Education

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Robotics as a major requires an excellent foundation of natural sciences, which is why it is relatively more difficulty to come across in the undergraduate level. Not too long ago, in 2009, Worcester Polytechnic was the first to offer robotics as a major for undergraduates. However, colleges/universities offering robotics program at undergraduate level are growing in number.

A few questions to ask while choosing between schools that offer robust robotics programs:

  1. Does the program have its own laboratory/division dedicated to the discipline or does it function as a part of another department?
  2. Does the school offer a multi-disciplinary or a more focused approach to the topic of robotics?
  3. Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute has been established in 1979 and offers a wide array of focuses for undergraduate students.
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology has several divisions dedicated to robotics: The Mobile Robot Laboratory, The Health Care Robotics Laboratory and The Center for Music Technology—all with different and more specific applications of robotics.
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)’s Robotics Engineering program, being the pioneer at offering a bachelor in robotics offers a extremely multi-disciplinary approach to the topic.
  6. University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab (The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) is another school that offers and excellent robotics program that combines several disciplines, from computer science to mechanical and electrical engineering.

There are a number of other schools such as MIT, UC Berkeley and Columbia University that offer outstanding robotics programs. Researching each laboratory’s past projects is also a good way to make an informed decision about which offering may be the best fit for me.

Hope this was helpful!

Randall Bedwell, College Planner, Professor, and Author

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Students who want to pursue robotics may be shocked that only a handful of universities offer an undergraduate degree in the field. Instead, undergraduate robotics degrees are treated similarly to “pre-med” curriculums…a base of multidisciplinary courses preparing a student for further academic exploration. Students will need to be well-versed in mechanical, electrical, industrial, or software engineering. This means that students can pursue a major in one of these subjects with an eye toward greater specialization in robotics or mechatronics at the master’s degree level and above.

There are some robotics programs available at an undergraduate level, however. After Worcester Polytechnic received the first accreditation for an undergraduate degree program, a number of other schools followed suit, creating outstanding programs in the emerging field. This includes Carnegie Mellon, University of California-Santa Cruz, and Lawrence Technological University. Still, undergraduate degrees in robotics (or mechatronics) are rare.

Carnegie Mellon is among the best known programs, leading research and implementation of robotics technologies. Their Robotics Institute boasts one of the largest faculties in the nation. MIT offers another leading program, producing cutting edge, long-term research and education in robotics. Finally, Georgia Tech’s robotics program benefits from partnerships with major research groups in the fields of medicine, mobile robots, and music. This offers students the opportunity for greater specialization within their chosen field.

Chris Whipple, Robotics Engineering

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute was the first (and as of 3 years ago was the only) college in the U.S. with a 4 year undergraduate program in Robotics, which has now been around for about 8 years. Its a great blend of electrical, mechanical and computer engineering as well as programming, all with a focus on robots. I graduated the program in 2012 and am very happy with what was taught and how it prepared me for life after college.

Other schools to look into are Carnegie Mellon, RPI and Stanford (among many others). I am out of the loop as to whether they offer undergrad degrees specifically in robotics yet, but they do have robotics focused classes. CMU in particular has the Robotics Institute, but that is mostly for graduate robotics degrees and programs.

Hope this helps!

Brittany Maschal, College Admissions Expert, Founder of B. Maschal Educational Consulting and College UnDocumented

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There are quite a few! Some schools have specific robotics labs, while others do not, but all of the schools below are excellent. It is no surprise that many on this list are top schools for engineering/sciences. Check out:

  • Johns Hopkins
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • UC Berkeley
  • UPenn
  • WashU
  • WPI
  • Stanford
  • U. of Southern California
  • Columbia
  • Georgia Tech
  • MIT
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