Mel Siegel, an associate research professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), shares the same view: “As in other technical fields, salaries are good even for beginners in technical jobs, becoming excellent as people move into managerial jobs. A few of our graduates became quite wealthy when their entrepreneurial activities culminated in selling the small companies that they founded to large companies that wanted their product lines and expertise.” Apart from graduate professionals, the field offers a decent starting salary in the range of Rs 10,000 to 25,000 per month to diploma holders.
Most recruiters are from the automation industry, doling out intelligent systems and autonomous systems involving highly advanced engineering and technology. Most of their products are for military and defence applications.
Automobile companies account for 70 per cent of robotics applications in India. Tata Motors, Hyundai Motors, Reliance Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra and Ashok Leyland have designated departments to handle the programming and functioning of robotics.
According to Dr Venkatesh, “The focus is not on the production industry but on the research sector that is putting out amazing innovative applications involving advanced engineering techniques.”
“Robotics is going to be one of the biggest industrial catalysts and major factors for growth in production and material handling facilities. Engineering students can avail this opportunity by selecting robotics as one of the career options.”
Dr Rout informs, “Companies like Texas Instruments (TI), Intel, Cypress, Infineon and STMicroelectronics, which are mostly into IC design, visit the BITS Pilani campus regularly.” Major international players in robotics like Energid Technologies,iRobot Corporation, Kuka Robotics Corporation, ABB Robotics, Fanuc and Motoman Robotics have their presence in India.
Pari Robotics, Robosoft Systems, ThinkLABS and Gridbots Technologies are some of the domestic players in the field of robotics.
Besides, several small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are also mulling over investing in robotics to increase their global competitiveness. Companies look for different requirements while hiring a robotics engineer: Design and development capability in the domains of mechanical, manufacturing or electronics engineering, or as simple as operating and programming a specific robot for various needs.
Jayakrishnan explains, “Obviously, the requirements in this field necessitate a quality learning centered around the fundamentals of physics, dynamics and mathematics in general. Specific to our company, we would like engineers to have some hardware integration experience and, of course, good software coding skills and vision algorithm knowledge too. Another thing is making the software easy to use from a non-coder standpoint. So the ability to create a good user interface (human factors) to simplify the process is always in demand.”
“As far as freshers are concerned, the amount of hands-on experience with robotic hardware and integration would depend on the student’s desire as well as the quality of the institution Apart from the knowledge acquired from the institution, a shorter learning curve with good grasping, strong mathematics and ability to conceptualise a solution are important.
As India excels in software, we should be able to apply this excellence to robotics as it grows in global significance,”he adds.
However, “At present, this professionally advanced industry is facing a severe lack of intelligent and skilled workers. It is the rampant state of the wrong people in the wrong place. The technical industry is handicapped due to the lack of relevant workforce and has to make-do with leftovers from the software industry,” shares Dr Venkatesh.
“Companies look for practical, creative and innovative engineers who can integrate technology into reallife applications. This is just a dream as yet, as there is a lot of technology around and a lot less implementation,”he adds.
From classroom to industry
Recruiters often have to spend their valuable time and resources in preparing freshers for specific jobs. This is usually because the candidates’ knowledge of robotics is from a notional perspective only. So take up some industry-oriented project or internship. Various companies (in both public and private sectors) accommodate finaland pre-final-year students in their live projects.
At the same time, keep yourself updated with the latest technologicaltrends to get an edge over your competitors.
The author is from EFY Bureau, New Delhi