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Robotics club gathered around a device they constructed.

New Robotics Major Stands Out as Unique in SUNY, Nation

By Gerianne Wright Downs
March 2018

Students looking for a program in the design, construction and operation of robots need look no further than the new SUNY Plattsburgh major in robotics, slated to be on line for fall 2018.

The college’s new bachelor of science in robotics is one of only 19 undergraduate programs in the nation, and the only one within the SUNY system. The rapidly growing field offers job opportunities in programming, automation and software development, among others.

According to Dr. Delbert Hart, professor in computer science, robotics “is a technology that is becoming integrated into a wide variety of systems. As such, it is a field that has good career prospects for students.”

“Students in the program will gain a strong background in physics and computer science while doing hands-on work with small robotic systems”

Students enrolled in the program will learn:

  • Analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Design and building systems
  • Software programming
  • Hardware systems
  • The design, construction and operation of robots

Because the program is interdisciplinary, students will receive instruction from professors in computer science, physics and mathematics.

“Students in the program will gain a strong background in physics and computer science while doing hands-on work with small robotic systems,” Hart said.

An experiential learning component is central to the degree, so students will find internships and other applied learning experiences readily available.

With a larger emphasis on programming and less on hardware or engineering, the SUNY Plattsburgh program is unique among the other programs in the United States. Its core operating metric is small-robotics systems, as opposed to other programs whose focus is on robots used for industrial purposes.

“Most industry jobs are now multidisciplinary,” said Dr. Michael Walters, associate professor of physics. “Exposing our students to that mindset allows them to focus on the task or problem to solve instead of the boundaries of their particular discipline. A lot of times it takes a blend of skills and knowledge sets to find a thorough solution. Our students could have an advantage in the workplace and beyond.”

A degree in robotics can land students in careers as:

  • Robotics programmers
  • Industrial automation developers
  • Robotics and automation specialists
  • Electromechanical technicians
  • Autonomic vehicle developers

Hart said there are a number of graduate programs in robotics as well, “and that is another destination that students could choose.”

 

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