Animatronics Schools and Courses: How to Choose

Animatronics is one of many areas of interest in the field of robotics. Anyone who is interested in studying animatronics should be looking at programs in robotics engineering or technology. Read on for more information on colleges and universities that offer degrees and courses in robotics engineering.

How to Select a School with Robotics Engineering Programs or Courses

Robotics engineering programs and courses are available at community colleges, technical colleges and 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program options
  • Extracurricular learning opportunities
  • Online program options
  • Research opportunities and lab facilities

Program Options

An academic discipline that combines the studies of computer engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, robotics engineering is the most applicable field for anyone interested in learning more about animatronics, including how it works and how to create animatronic animation. Robotics engineering is offered as a career certificate of completion or associate's degree program, though students can also study robotics as a minor or take robotics courses in other engineering bachelor's degree programs. All of these program options offer the necessary training to enter the field of animatronics, so students should consider how much time they are willing or able to commit to school.

Extracurricular Learning Opportunities

Some schools offer extracurricular activities and local service learning opportunities related to animatronics. These can include robot building competitions and games, or working on community events. For example, students can use their robotics engineering expertise in the design of animatronic creatures for a haunted house or a children's show, if the opportunity is available. Students may want to consider applying to a school with a robotics engineering program that offers opportunities such as these, as it can provide additional and direct experience in animatronics. Building competitions and games can also help students gain experience designing their own robots.

Online Program Options

While hands-on experiences can be very valuable for students, not all students have the option of committing to a full-time program. Some schools offer a robotics engineering e-degree option, which allows students to complete their coursework online and on their own time. They may have to attend all of the lab portions of the courses in person, but this can be much more convenient for some students. Students with prior commitments, such as a career, should consider this option when applying for schools. Applicants can check a school's website to see whether a robotics program is offered online.

Research Opportunities and Lab Facilities

Students can study robotics as a minor in a number of engineering programs around the country, usually in mechanical engineering or computer engineering. The coursework is very similar to that of most associate's degrees and certificate programs, usually with more math courses and additional lab work. Prospective students may want to consider this as an option since many 4-year colleges have more research opportunities. These colleges also sometimes have better-equipped labs for microcontrollers or digital systems, which may give students more experience with robotics.

Robotics Engineering Program Overviews

Certificate in Robotics Engineering

This is a certificate of completion program that can be completed in one year or less. It focuses on the study of robotics and has coursework such as:

  • Basic robot design
  • Robot systems
  • Motion control
  • Alternating current systems
  • Controller programming

It teaches students how to maintain and repair robotic systems at a practical level so they are ready for entry-level positions upon completion, such as a robotics technician. The fundamental principles of robotics technology taught in a program such as this can be valuable to those interested in animatronics.

Associate of Applied Science in Robotics Engineering

This associate's degree program provides training in the programming and design of robots. This program also teaches students the fundamentals of digital systems and microprocessors, electronic circuits, motion-control systems and programming tools. There are general education requirements such as college algebra, English composition and research methods, as well as robotics courses similar to those in the certificate program, such as:

  • Vision systems
  • Programmable logic controllers
  • Automation controls

This material, though it may have an industrial focus at times, can provide students with the tools and experience they need to understand and work with animatronics. Some programs include a cooperative work experience so students can gain real-world experience.

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