Animatronics Schools and Courses: How to Choose

Those 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.

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Robotics engineering combines the studies of computer engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, and it is the most applicable field for anyone interested in learning more about animatronics. Relevant programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Schools with Robotics Programs

Robotics programs are offered at these schools.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $48,710 Undergraduate; $48,710 Graduate
Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $15,224 In-state Graduate; $32,700 Out-of-state Graduate
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate $46,320 Undergraduate; $45,729 Graduate
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $48,093 Undergraduate; $47,300 Graduate
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Doctoral $13,452 In-state Graduate; $27,872 Out-of-state Graduate
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $50,665 Undergraduate; $40,625 Graduate
Wichita Area Technical College Wichita, KS 2-year, Public Associate, Certificate $7,317 In-State; $8,728 Out-of-State
California University of Pennsylvania California, PA 4-year, Public Associate $9,936 In-State; $14,069 Out-of-State
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's Doctoral $48,624
Oregon State University Bend, OR 4-year, Public Master's Doctoral $12,150 In-State; $20,952 Out-of-State

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are several points to consider when choosing an animatronics program.

  • Students may want to find out if extracurricular learning opportunities, such as robot building competitions and robotics clubs, are available at the school.
  • Online program options are valuable for students who cannot commit to a full-time program and wish to complete non-lab portions of the course at their leisure.
  • Prospective students may want to find information about the school's laboratory facilities in order to ensure that they have the chance to work with the latest robotics technologies.
  • Prospective students who are considering research-focused graduate programs should make sure that there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interests, as they may act as thesis advisors.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs introduce students to the basics of robotics design and programming. Other topics of study include systems and microprocessors, electronic circuits and motion-control systems. There are also general education requirements. Some programs include a cooperative work experience so students can gain real-world experience.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Undergraduates who want to study robotics typically choose a major in mechanical engineering. Some schools allow students to declare a minor or specialty in robotics. In these programs, students begin with foundational mathematics and scientific courses before advancing to higher-level courses in the application of engineering principles to a wide variety of subfields, including robotics. Prior to graduation, students are often required to submit a senior design project.

Master's Degree Programs

At the master's degree level, students can choose between Master of Science (MS) and professional Master of Engineering (MEng) programs. MS programs take two years to complete and emphasize faculty-supervised research in the field. MEng programs can last for as little as 1.5 years, depending on whether the student chooses a full-time or part-time scheduling track. These programs are designed specifically for students who want to get jobs in the engineering industry.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Like MS programs, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs focus heavily on academic research. In addition to conducting independent investigatory work in a particular aspect of robotics, students must take advanced coursework in the field and pass a comprehensive examination. Prior to graduation, they must submit and defend a doctoral thesis.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate certificate programs can be completed in one year or less. They train students to maintain and repair robotic systems at a practical level. As a result, students who complete the program are ready for entry-level jobs, such as work as a robotics technician. For students who already hold bachelor's degree in engineering, some schools offer graduate certificate programs. Students in these programs have the chance to take advanced robotics courses without committing to a full degree program.

Choosing a robotics program can involve determining which degree level is best suited to your personal goals. School facilities and extracurricular opportunities are also important to consider.

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