“India as a country is poised for robotics and automation engineering revolution. Every industry in India is looking for some form of automation technologies to become competitive,” says Dr Bijay Kumar Rout, assistant professor, mechanical engineering department and coordinator, Center for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CRIS), BITS Pilani.
Know your role
Robotics is multi-disciplinary and so are the job opportunities in this area. This integrative field offers jobs in three major sectors—design and manufacturing of robotic systems, embedded and control system, and software control and simulation environments for these robotic systems.
A lot of responsibilities do come up while working in these sectors. As compared to traditional systems where machine components are decoupled, in this field all the systems function in tandem with other components. So while designing or working on robotic systems, one has to take care of a lot of factors, cautions Gaur.
Robotics engineering combines elements of mechanical, electrical and software engineering in the design, testing and development of computer-controlled robots used to assist humans.
As an electronics professional, you may find a place in the design section of a robot manufacturing firm. Fresh electronics graduates can be considered for some of the positions in the creative designing and problem-solving sections. They may have to work on electronic designs and embedded programs for robotic assemblies like actuators, sensors and interface circuitries and develop innovative graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and control mechanisms for the robots.
In the manufacturing section, graduates may play important roles in maintenance and operation. Microchip manufacturers recruit robotics and artificial intelligence specialists. Employment opportunities also exist in education and research domains. Electronics departments in most of the IITs and CSIR labs offer research fellowships in robotics and artificial intelligence.
As a robotics engineer, you may find placement in robot programming, troubleshooting and maintenance. Fellowships are also available in research institutes, emphasising on humanoid robotics and computational neuroscience.
Those with overall knowledge in this area may work as CAD/CAM engineers, automation engineers, hydraulics and pneumatic system engineers, engineers for numerically controlled systems and microprocessors, robotic system programmers and maintenance engineers.
The skills and knowledge of these engineers may be used to design robots to carry out hazardous or repetitive tasks in mining or chemical waste disposal. For instance, robots are being deployed at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan which was recently damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami and is still too dangerous for humans to tread.
These engineers may also be employed to create life-saving surgical equipment; help design advanced toys, games and household appliances for the commercial industry; or develop experimental robots in the research sector for use in defence, surveillance and aerospace programmes.
Apart from this, there are various opportunities in procurement, manufacturing and technical sales in robotic companies.
In India, very few universities offer degree programmes in robotics engineering. There are very few IITs where M.Tech degrees in robotics engineering are offered. Therefore these tasks are performed with the help of core engineering disciplines such as mechanical, EEE, instrumentation and computer science
How to get the entry?
A technical degree (diploma or graduation) may qualify you for a job in this field but it may not be enough to get you a decent profile. As recruiters also look for specialised R&D skills in a postgraduate or doctorate applicant, you need to have a knack for the field. Most employers train interns directly in various areas of robotics.
“In India, very few universities offer degree programmes in robotics engineering. There are very few IITs where M.Tech degrees in robotics engineering are offered. Therefore these tasks are performed with the help of core engineering disciplines such as mechanical, EEE, instrumentation and computer science,” informs Dr Rout. Courses in robotics are offered by institutes like IIT Kanpur; National Institute of Technology, University of Hyderabad; Kuka Training Centre, Pune; Jadavpur University, Kolkata; BITS Pilani; Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthinilayam in Tamil Nadu; and PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.
“The remuneration in robotics is at par with any other top-rated field like aerospace and networking. At the same time, the matrix for fixing the salary for a particular position follows the same pattern as for any other IT-related position to be mutually beneficial for the employer and the employee,” says Jayakrishnan.
“The difference is much higher for an experienced candidate as it is not very easy to get the right combination to match the position. Anyhow, due to the technical content of the job, the package is definitely on the higher side as far as IT jobs are concerned,”he adds.