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What skills are best for a job in robotics?

What an exciting time to consider robotics as a possible career path. From designing and building toy robots for fun, to developing industrial-scale robotics, to making consumer robots that help facilitate our everyday life, one thing’s clear: Robotics is here, and it is changing the way we interact with things and the way they interact with us. So, what skills do you need if you want to work in robotics?

Besides the technical skills, what do you need to demonstrate to your future employer to help you stand out from the rest? As you might imagine, people working in robotics have strong mathematics, science, programming, and systems analysis skills. But design also plays a big role. Being able to iterate, isolate problems, and prototype until you have just the right design is essential. Having a balance of technical skills and analytical and critical thinking is what makes for a successful roboticist.

Balance technical and creative skills

“Graduates will need to show broad competency in things like technology and design, complex problem solving, and understanding the social impact your product will have on society. They also need commercial skills such as product marketability and business development,” says Fady Saad, co-founder of MassRobotics. Created as an innovation hub for the next generation of robotics startups, Boston-based MassRobotics offers prototyping facilities and testing space needed for robotics development. Helping to bring about the next global evolution of robotics, Fady and his team see firsthand what helps bring certain ideas to the limelight, as well as some of the pitfalls you can expect to encounter.

“A successful combination of skills includes the technical side but also the ability to listen, communicate effectively, collaborate, and negotiate,” Saad continues. “You could have a great idea and create an amazing product, but knowing how to get through bottlenecks like regulations, user adoption, and public perception is key.”
 
For student Joe Boero (pictured here), his interest in robotics started in elementary school. Now, as president of the robotics club at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, he works with other students to create robotic platforms for search and rescue.

Experiment, experiment, experiment 

 “Don’t ever give up, even if it gets difficult,” Boero advises. “If you fail or are struggling with something, it just means a new idea or a better way to solve your problem is out there and you just have to find it. Ask a lot of questions. Experiment with many ideas. And find mentors for advice and guidance.”
 
Recently Boero tried Autodesk® Fusion 360. “I personally recommend Fusion 360 because it’s easy to learn and use. It’s a great way to create custom parts and objects for your design. You can see digitally how the components will function and interact with each other.”
 
Younger students can gain hands-on skills with robotics challenges like VEX and First. Autodesk supports these events and even created some beginner projects that the teams (and anyone else who is interested) can try out. Saad and Boero agree that the future of robotics is incredibly exciting. Whether your focus will be health care or manufacturing or even designing smarter buildings, the future career options for robotics are vast, limited only by your imagination.