The developing robotics industry has some lucrative jobs in store. Prachi Rege speaks to experts about the need for professionals who will create future Wall-Es.
Are you a mechanical, electrical or computer engineer looking for a career in robotics? Then you are on the right track. The demand for robotic experts is surging upwards as industries in the business of manufacturing automobile, chemical, welding, plastics, rubber, metals, and machinery and electrical appliances are heavily investing in robot-enabled machines.
According to McKinsey`s 2012 research report (Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation), India`s manufacturing sector will have 90 million jobs by 2025. International Federation of Robotics (IFR), a non-profit organisation active in 15 countries, puts the operational stock of robots in India for the year 2012 at 7800 across industries. “There are no definite statistics on the manpower required. However, since the production rate is on the rise, the need for robotics professionals too is definitely increasing,” estimates Pradeep Shoran, AGM Marketing, Kuka Robotics India Pvt. Ltd.
The domestic market however is yet to catch up with its international counterparts like Japan, China, Korea and the US. Voicing his opinion on India`s development in robotics, Jaishankar Bharatharaj, founder of the Chennai-based robotics training firm Roboin, says, "We specialise only in industrial automation robots. This is a crucial yet small area of robotics. It is time to move on to artificial intelligence—designing and developing Humanoid robots.”
The strength of the global market is indicated in the research report— Industrial Robotics Market - Global Forecast and Analysis by Applications, Functions, Product and Geography (2012 – 2017). Published by MarketsandMarkets, the report estimates that the global industrial robotics will reach $32.8 billion by 2017 at a CAGR of 5.0% from 2012 to 2017. “These numbers clearly indicate that the industry will need professionals to design and develop both industrial and humanoid robots,” says Bharatharaj.
Robotics offers students a plethora of job roles. “Robotics is a mixture of the three core departments of engineering—Mechanical, Computer and electronics,” says Bharatharaj. A mechanical engineer may opt to be an application specialist, who uses and maintains the robots and robotic machines. “There are no indigenous companies in India that manufacture robots. However, we are home to several international robotic companies, which offer good opportunities for application specialists.” explains Shoran. A computer engineer develops the microchips and programmes the movements of the robots. An electrical engineer develops the electric censors required to run the robotic machines. There are other career options like robotics researchers and designers, who research on the different challenges involved in the process of developing different types of robots.
Since it is an interdisciplicnary field, a robotics professional needs to have a deep understanding of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. Experts advise aspirants to read research papers and journals to keep up with the latest developments in the field. "A comprehensive understanding of the technicalities and the challenges in developing and operating a robot will increase your chances of getting employed in the industry," says Shoran.
Robotics needs to be offered as a specialised course in engineering and technical institutes, say experts. “Currently, it is offered as an interdisciplinary subject to second or third year engineering students. However, once you offer a subject as an elective, it remains an option and doesn`t become a compulsion, thus getting ignored in the curriculum,” reflects Bharatharaj. Offering robotics as a compulsory subject will facilitate creation of the much needed professionals.
At Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), robotics is offered as an elective to the final year BTech students. It is a compulsory subject for MTech students specialising in CAD and CAM in which they are taught the application of industrial automation robots.
“Most educational institutes focus on training students in industrial automation robots, as they are popularly used in India. Also the cost of setting up a laboratory for humanoid robots training is quite huge,” clarifies AS Rao, assistant professor, Robotics and CAD/CAM laboratory and technical excellence Centre.
Firms like Irobokid and Robotix Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd conduct workshops in schools in order to train and develop students` interest in robotics. Experts give thumbs up to this initiative. “It is a good way of creating awareness about robotic design and simulation at school level as it is a practical subject. If a student develops an interest at this stage, there is a possibility that s/he may take up the subject in future,” signs off Rao.
1) Indian Institute of Robotics, IIR, Delhi
2) Kuka College, Pune
3) Industrial Robotics Training Centre, Ghaziabad
1) Robotics researchers in India make – Rs 2 to 3 lakhs (a week or ten days)
2) Robotics researchers abroad – $10,000 to 15, 000 per month
3) PhD students in Singapore Universities – Stipend of $5000 per month
4) Application specialist (fresher) – Rs 4 lakh per year