Robotics engineers are technical gurus who have a passion for automating processes and exploring new technological horizons. They have invaluable scientific, mechanical and automation engineering experience, and robotics expertise that make their profession central to simplifying human-intensive processes.
More specifically, robotics engineers are responsible for researching, developing, creating, and evaluating robots, including their mechanical, electrical, and software systems. They have to consider factors such as the robot's size, shape, and mobility, as well as its intended purpose and the environment in which it will operate. They need to also research the most cost-effective and secure techniques of manufacturing robotic systems.
Robotics engineers create the software and control systems that enable robots to operate autonomously or under human supervision. Using popular programming languages, they program the robot to perform specific tasks, such as welding or painting, and ensure that it can perform these tasks safely and efficiently. They may use simulation software to test the robot's performance before building a physical prototype, and they may also perform tests in a laboratory or real-world environment to observe the robot's behavior and identify any problems.
Robotics engineers often work as part of a larger technical team, collaborating with other engineers, like mechanical and robotic process automation (RPA) engineers, and diverse technicians to design and build complex robotics components or systems. This means they need to communicate and cooperate effectively with their colleagues and coordinate their work to ensure that the final product meets the project's goals and specifications.
The robotics field is rapidly changing, so robotics engineers must stay informed about the latest developments in their field, including new materials, sensors, and control systems. They regularly attend conferences and workshops, and read scientific journals, to stay informed and connected with other experts in the field.
In this role, robotics engineers can apply their technical creativity in automation and mechanics to work in many industries. Popular sectors include electronics, computers, and information technology (IT), manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, supply chain, food processing, agritech, and more.
In the software industry, robotics software engineers need to design software that will control the robots on an assembly line. This work involves using a programming language to write the code that the robots will execute. Meanwhile in the automotive industry, robotics engineers may leverage their mechanical engineering and related expertise to improve a six-axis robot’s ability to install a door or windshield.
Common robotics engineer responsibilities
A robotic engineer is responsible for performing a range of important engineering tasks. Responsibilities may include:
- Designing, building, maintaining, or improving robotics and automation components, products, or systems;
- Testing and prototyping an array of robotics and automation components and systems;
- Refining designs and developing software and controls using programming languages to activate robots and automation equipment;
- Integrating sensors and other technologies into the robotic system to improve its performance;
- Troubleshooting problems within the robotic system or components and identifying ways to improve its reliability and efficiency;
- Using engineering software and computer-assisted design (CAD) software to execute tasks;
- Building and deploying functional robotics systems, machines, or devices;
- Collaborating with diverse technicians, like robotics engineering technicians, other multidisciplinary engineers, and team members, as well as customers on the robotics engineering projects;
- Collecting data or writing reports related to robotics design projects;
- Conducting research and experimenting to advance robotics and automated equipment;
- Training and educating other engineers, technicians, and end users on the proper operation and maintenance of the robotic system;
- Preparing and maintaining detailed documentation and specifications on the robotics equipment;
- Staying up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the field of robotics, including emerging technologies and new applications;
- Participating in the planning, budgeting, and scheduling of robotics projects.
Qualifications for robotics engineers
Robotics engineers should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Robotics and Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics, or a related technical field. In some countries, an engineering license may also be required.
Additional supporting skills and experience include:
- 3-5 years of related engineering and automation experience;
- Solid understanding of robotics, electrical and mechanical engineering systems;
- Excellent applied math, statistics, and design skills;
- Proficiency in using diverse computer operating system hardware & software, and the latest design, modeling, and calculation software like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Matlab/LabView, or similar;
- Very familiar with programming languages, such as C/C++, Python, MATLAB, Lua, etc. and with the Robot Operating System (ROS), among others;
- Strong communication skills to work easily with other engineers, technicians, and team members;
- Some work experience gained through an apprenticeship or in a relevant role is an advantage.
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