Students who enroll in bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering learn the basics of computer programming and robotics systems design. Generally, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED.
Master's degree programs in this field might include several areas of concentration. They could help students develop leadership qualities and enhance their knowledge of mechanical and robotic engineering. Those seeking to enroll in a master's degree program must have a bachelor's degree, and sometimes work experience is required.
Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering
A 4-year bachelor's degree program in engineering with a focus on robotics provides fundamental knowledge for aspiring animatronics engineers. Students investigate the art of robotics, which is the science and technology involved in robot design along with real-world implementation. Students learn to use the mechanical tools and principles that are instrumental in the development and construction of robotics for diverse applications.
In addition to general education requirements, mechanical engineering programs include courses in communication, manufacturing process, computer-aided design and applied science. Students will also conduct hands-on experiments designing robotics systems and components. Prior to completion of the program, students will typically be required to complete a capstone project, in which they work within a team environment to create a robotic system. Other topics covered may include:
- Computer programming
- Digital electronics
- Professional skills for engineers
- Signals and systems
- Intelligent systems
Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering
A master's degree program combines traditional computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering fundamentals with robotics. The coursework focuses on leadership skills in mechanical and robotic engineering, as well as allowing students to develop systems and products. In addition to robotics, concentrations are available in computational engineering, manufacturing and materials, nanotechnology and propulsion.
Master's degree students complete courses in mechanics applications and technologies, as well as robotics and control systems. Programs typically culminate in a master's thesis or final project. Typical courses include:
- Computational methods
- Applied finite elements
- Data analysis
- Robot motion planning
- Kinematics and dynamics for robots
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degree graduates have the technical knowledge and hands-on design skills to qualify for positions in automation, machine design and robotics. Career titles available include:
- Mechanical engineer
- Robotics technician
- Animatronics engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Animatronics engineers may also work under the job title of mechanical engineer or robotics engineer, though these titles can apply to those who work with non-animatronic robots in manufacturing, distribution and robotics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, robotics engineers were categorized with other unique types of engineers. These professionals earned a median annual wage of $96,980 in 2018. The projected employment growth in the field was between 5% and 9% from 2016-2026. The BLS also reports that mechanical engineers earned a median annual wage of $87,370 as of May 2018. An employment growth of 4% was projected for mechanical engineers from 2018-2028.
A Ph.D. in Robotics Engineering can further prepare engineers for advanced robotics research, applications and technological development. The knowledge acquired from a previous degree program is tested and utilized for the robotics industry. Students conduct continuous research to benefit upcoming robotics engineers.
The study of animatronics is available through robotics concentrations in mechanical engineering bachelor's and master's degree programs. Students in these programs learn about the development and construction of robotics systems.