5 answers

What would be a better choice for me to choose robotic engineering or mechanical engineering?

Asked El Paso, Texas

I have participated in the robotics club at my school all four years of my high school life, it is something that I have grown to love and I am curious on what would be better if I was wanting to pursue something in the same line of work. #mechanical-engineering #mechanical-engineer #robotics #robotics-engineer

5 answers

Glenn’s Answer

Updated Los Angeles, California

I understand that you have a passion around robotics. This can be met with degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mech-tronics, Software, or Robotics. I am also a strong believer that you should follow your passion. If you go into Robotics or Mech-tronics, you will have the best chance of getting a job in robotics straight out of school. Once you have some experience, it is easier to get another job doing the same thing.

There is another side of the question as well. What in Robotics do you want to be working on. If you are interested in the mechanical aspect only, I think you may be better suited as a mechanical engineer.

As with most areas. there are many aspects of robotics that need technical support. Design (ME, EE, SW, Mechtronics, Systems Engineering), Reliability (testing), Manufacturing, Quality control, etc.

You have to decide what area interests you the most, then determine the best path to get there.

Skyler’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas

Hi Jose! While I tend to agree with Glenn and Sam with regards to encouraging people to follow their passions (I surely did just that), I would like to offer a counter-argument for the sake of full-disclosure and discussion.

There are MANY ways in which a young engineer, while working towards their degree or working in industry, can follow their passions outside of their daily job. You have found an avenue to do just that, through robotics clubs, teams, or organizations available in your school or in your area. Those things will exist wherever you choose to go to school, and would still look great on a resume, if you were working on your Mechanical Engineering degree. Many engineers are "tinkerers" or hobby-enthusiasts outside of work because they like to do things that are not within their day-to-day roles within their company. That's a pretty stereotypical engineer, someone who works for a living and plays in an engineering realm outside of work because that's what we love to do. Not everyone will land their "dream job" in engineering, its something you might have to work long and hard for once out of school.

Mechanical Engineering is great because just about every type of engineering project requires ME-minded folks to play a major role. It is a wide-field degree and teaches you in general how to solve problems, be a critical thinker, and research and design and assemble and improve all sorts of things.

Mechanical Engineering is a much wider field in industry, and thus it has a much larger share of the workforce (and job openings) than the Robotics Engineering field, which is more of a specialty degree.

I'm not saying to choose Mechanical over Robotics, but you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each. If you are looking to be able to live just about anywhere, have a better chance of getting a job in your field right out of college, and be a part of just about any type of engineering work, Mechanical Engineering is the logical choice. And if you choose that, you can still work towards a ME career focused on Robotics, and you can always choose to use your free time to "play" in the realm of robotics just as you are doing today.

Don't loose that passion! Skyler

G. Mark’s Answer

Updated

They overlap so much, you'll be doing mechanical engineering as well as any training in robotics. There are three very, very hot topics today in engineering that are rapidly gaining momentum. You've likely been exposed to them in your everyday life. First is the Internet of Things. This is the growing physical internet that connects objects all around us to computational power and communication with sensors to process and interact with the world around us. You've likely used Amazon Echo or iPhone Siri. You've likely used internet access to appliances, vehicles, building controls and so on. The IOT is heavily engaged with the second field, and that is Big Data, which is gathered everyday from just about everything we do all day, from cellphone conversations to smart vehicles to utility controls and smart manufacturing. This data is increasing on the order of 140 percent per year. And all this data can be used by Artificial Intelligence, especially Machine Learning to allow our machines to make intelligent decisions based on learning much like humans do. And then there's the business end of this system -- robotics. Robots are the things that use the AI and ML facilities and their access to Big Data to do the work. So you see, your two choices are pretty great and they are very interrelated. I would keep an open mind and accept the fact that whichever one you choose, you'll likely end up doing a lot in the other anyway. Which is pretty great.

Philip’s Answer

Jose, The choice between Robotic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering will depend on which you have the most passion for as a career. In my mind Robotic Engineering is a very specific area and does not allow the flexibility that Mechanical Engineering . In other words Robotics is a specialty field whereas Mechanical is very broad and can present numerous areas of specialty . If you are looking at salary , remember sometimes you are restricted to certain companies and geographic areas (eg , Mid West, West Coast) for such specialty engineering jobs. Numerous companies in virtually state have mechanical engineering vacancies. Best of luck.


Philip

Sam’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas

Hello Jose,

Follow your passion, choose robotic engineering. I think this will lead to an enjoyable and rewarding career for you.

Sam

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