With every passing year, the world is becoming increasingly automated. In many areas, artificial intelligence has taken the driving seat — well, not literally. From serving food at restaurants to washing cars to doing surgery on a grape, robots are everywhere. With the advent of big data and the internet of things, the robotics industry is growing rapidly. With so much popularity and demand for robots, people are getting more and more interested in learning robotics. And many are now looking at studying it.
An MS degree in robotics not only gives you the knowledge of presentation, research, and communication but also provides you knowledge of both programming and physical engineering, which are equally important.
But then comes the dilemma — whether to study in India or to go for a foreign university. Even though India is definitely not behind when it comes to studying engineering, but the trend for studying abroad still exists.
In order to help people decide how to go ahead with the decision of studying robotics abroad, we at Analytics India Magazine have prepared a step-by-step guide for getting an MS degree in robotics at a university abroad.
Prerequisites for master's degree programs vary based on the program and the university. However, in general, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a robotics-related field such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, etc. Also, you need to have a good overall score — usually, 60% is the minimum score required, but depending on universities, it may vary. Talking about GPA, a GPA of 3 and above out of 4 is considered to be good.
Talking about knowledge, in general, there are certain subjects and skills that will help you in your MS in robotics.
Some of the subjects and skills
- Advanced Engineering Mathematics: When you are applying for a field like robotics, you need to have a strong hold on mathematics. Advanced engineering mathematics comes under knowledge prerequisites which include topic like Fourier series, Laplace transformation, linear algebra etc.
- Basic Electronics: Electronics seem scary, but they aren't so bad and in robotics, it is one of the most important parts. Whether it is just a battery or a micro-controller, one should know how the electronic components work and where to use them.
- Strength of Material and design of machines: These are other subjects that play a vital role in robotics and goes hand in hand. One should have knowledge of materials that can be used to create a robot. Also, how to use that material to design robots.
- Coding/Programming: In robotics, programming is like the brain of the robot. Whether you want to make it move forward or backwards, it is going to be done through a piece of code. So, it is imperative to have programming knowledge when you are entering the world of robots.
- Design Software: When you are into robotics, a strong hand on some design software helps you stand out in the field. Whether it is ANSYS or Hypermesh, you should have the skills to work on a modelling suite to create a virtual model of a robot including the design and programming code.
- Soldering: Simply put, it only takes one wrong connection to prevent an electronic appliance from working and you might end up throwing the circuit board or the appliance. But if you know the art of soldering, instead of using a new appliance you can actually fix that by making the correct connection. In a field like robotics, soldering is critical, and it is one of the most important skills.
A word to the wise: Given above are some of the skills one should possess when going for a robotics program. However, make sure you have more knowledge than the ones mentioned as the list of knowledge prerequisites goes a bit farther
Also, it is always considered to be a good practice to go prepared for a new venture. So, if you are applying for an MS program at a foreign university, make sure you have the relevant knowledge of subjects as well as skills. It will not only help you getting admission but will help you understand things during the course more easily.
How To Choose The Best Country
Many might not agree to this fact but studying robotics in a foreign land does fascinate a lot of people. However, this fascination might also lead to wrong decision making if you don’t have the knowledge of countries that are best for robotics; there are numerous cases where aspirants have dropped out from universities.
So, before applying for a robotics program (or any other program) in a foreign university you might want to do some research about the countries and cities that have most of the traits; whether it’s the type of study program, the facilities, the transport, cost of living, or weather. When you go to a foreign land to study, it is not always about getting a degree and come back to your nation, but also about getting along with people and live a good life there.
So, don’t randomly choose a country and apply. Do your research and then go further with the process. Some of the popular countries when it comes to robotics are US, Canada, Germany, China, and Australia.
Shortlisting The University
Once you are done choosing the country you want to move, it is time to shortlist the best universities in that country. You can go ahead with a Google search like, “Which are the best universities for Robotics?”, but things aren’t that easy. There are hundreds of portals available on the internet that shows different results and it will definitely confuse you.
The best way to shortlist a university is to write down some criteria which might include university ranking, curriculum, internship and training, and cost of the entire course. Once you are done with that, start matching up the criteria with different universities and see which one goes well with you.
Another effective way to choose a university is to connect with other students who are studying abroad or who have already graduated from a foreign university. It is always beneficial when to get to know what other international students, in a similar position, have experienced.
Word To The Wise: It’s no secret that studying abroad may cost a lot and if you have already decided to spend and study in a foreign university, then don’t compromise with the curriculum and the level of education just save few pennies. It is not at all a great idea to spend a huge amount of money and not getting a quality education.
4 top universities for MS in robotics
Carnegie Mellon University
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private nonprofit research university. The university was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900 and it started out the Carnegie Technical Schools which in 1912 became the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology joined hands with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and formed Carnegie Mellon University.
The MS program for robotics at Carnegie Mellon is designed to be completed nominally in two full years (24 months) and the entire course split into research and coursework.
Funding: As per the university’s official site, the program does not provide funding to students. Therefore, they are advised to secure two years of funds to pay for their educational costs. Tuition rates are set by the School of Computer Science and can vary by year. At present, it is $47,470/year. However, it is advised to visit the universities website’ Student Financial Services page.
How to apply: For MS in Robotics, the application opens in September and closes mid-December for the upcoming fall incoming class. Students can apply through the graduate application portal of the School of Computer Science.
College of engineering robotics, University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as University of Michigania. The University’s College of Engineering is the engineering unit in Ann Arbor.
The institute offers both Master’s and PhD degrees are built on a common set of course requirements that consists of three main technical areas:
- Sensing of the environment, external agents, and internal body information to determine state information
- Reasoning with that information to make decisions for guidance, control, and localization
- Acting upon the body and environment to produce motion or other outputs that enable the robot to locomote or interact with the environment
The only thing that is different is that PhD students need to complete research.
Funding: For PhD applicants funding is guaranteed subject to meeting the program deadlines. Funding includes tuition, monthly stipend, and health insurance. Masters students are also eligible for the same sources of funding, however, funding is not guaranteed.
How To Apply: The admission process is taken care by Rackham Graduate School. So it is advised to visit the Rackham site for information. For inquiry purpose, visit the institute’s Robotics Program Inquiry Form.
Oregon State University
Established in 1868, Oregon State University (OSU) is a research university located in Corvallis, Oregon. With over 200 undergraduate degree programs along with a variety of graduate and doctoral degrees, it is the largest university in the state.
The MS program of study comprises a minimum of 45 credits, with the following options:
- MS thesis option: 12 credits of Thesis (ROB 503) and at least 30 credits of coursework.
- MS project option: 6 credits of Projects (ROB 506) and 39 credits of coursework.
At least 50% of the credits on a student's POS must represent stand-alone graduate courses (500 level or above). The remaining credits may include the 5XX component of 400/500-level courses.
For more info visit the university page.
How to Apply: Visit the Oregon State University application page and complete your online admission application. Once you have completed the application, you can return to their application site to verify that your application materials are complete and to upload documents. You can the application fees here.
Johns Hopkins University
Founded in 1876, the Johns Hopkins University is an America's first research university. It is based in Baltimore, Maryland and is home to nine world-class academic divisions working together as one university.
The Robotics department is taken care of by the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics, which was founded by the Whiting School of Engineering as the principal locus for robotics research.
The program hosts two options: the course-work option (10 full-time academic courses) and an essay option (8 full-time academic courses and a Master’s Essay). Also, students will complete course-work in a specialization track that includes Automation Science and Engineering, BioRobotics, Control and Dynamical Systems, Medical Robotics and Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems, Perception and Cognitive Systems, and General Robotics.
How to apply: Admissions for Fall 2019 will open in September 2018 and the deadline is December 17, 2018. For further information on admission visit here.
Once you are done deciding the country, university and programme, there are a few other things that you have to take care of before moving further which include entrance exam, and passport and visa procedure. It might take another year to get through all the process. Prepare yourself well for all the processes without leaving any stone unturned. This waiting and preparation phase is considered to be one of the most important phases.
Entrance Exams: When you apply for MS in Robotics in a foreign university, you need to clear exams such as GRE or GMAT. There is no denying that if you are applying for a top-rated university, you definitely need to have high scores — a GRE score of 320 and above is good. You also need to clear the English language exam that needs to be taken within two years of the program’s application deadline in most of the cases. Depending on the country, the English entrance tests to be taken are TOEFL or IELTS. A TOEFL score of 100 and above and an IELTS score of 7 and above are considered to be decent when you are applying for a foreign university.
- Proof of funding: Proof of funding is basically required for applicants seeking a student visa. If the funds are not in the name of the student, then a sponsor statement of support may also be required.
- Passport and international address: A valid passport along with a proof of international address is a must which is required by most foreign universities.
- Statement of purpose (SOP): An SOP is a document that introduces your interests and experience to the admissions committee. It is also a must-have document, which shouldn’t be longer than two pages.
- Resume: There are universities that also ask for a resume or a CV and it must be updated with all the relevant information — from educational history to work history.
- Letter/s of recommendation: Letters of recommendation that can attest to the quality of the applicant's previous work and the likelihood of success in the program is also a must. Most universities demand two to three recommendation letters.
- Transcripts and academic record: Applicants are also required to have the original or scanned copy of their transcript from each college or university that they have attended. The documents need to be in the original language of the university along with English translation. If the applicant is still pursuing bachelor’s program, proof of enrolment has to be submitted.
Keep Track Of The Deadlines
While applying for a university in a foreign land, always take care of the deadlines. Universities such as in the US follows a different cycle. For example, if you are targeting Fall (Aug/Sept) 2019, then the deadlines will begin by October 2018 onwards, which is different from the Indian cycle. So, in order to stay updated, keep checking the deadlines.
Also, to submit applications most of the students wait until the last date of the deadline, which is not at all a great idea. Due to higher traffic, some technical error might happen and end up messing up your submission process. Even after a successful submission on the date of the deadline, there are chances that the application might not reach its destination.
Fees And Scholarships
Many students drop their dreams of studying in abroad because of an obvious reason — money. Many students are not aware that many foreign universities provide a scholarship to international students. Some universities consider scholarship during admission, but for most of the universities, you can apply online.
So, if you are looking to move to a foreign land and study but don’t have a strong financial pillar, then it is always advised to have a look at the scholarship programs of different universities on their official websites.
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