UMN unveils master’s degree in robotics

The three-semester master’s program will provide students with research and job opportunities.

Dr. Maria Gini, a professor of robotics, observes a robot in Shepherd Labs on Thursday, Feb. 6. Starting this fall, the University will be offering a Master’s program for robotics.

Emily Urfer

Dr. Maria Gini, a professor of robotics, observes a robot in Shepherd Labs on Thursday, Feb. 6. Starting this fall, the University will be offering a Master’s program for robotics.

Abbey Machtig

A new master’s degree in robotics offered through the University of Minnesota will work to offer jobs and internships to current students and graduates.

The three-semester program, which is currently accepting applications for this fall, is part of the Minnesota Robotics Institute. The degree will offer a holistic approach to the study of robotics, implementing a variety of disciplines such as computer science, mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. Faculty and community partners also plan to help students find jobs and internships through companies like 3M and Honeywell, said Minnesota Robotics Institute Administrator Charlynn Psihos.

“The new institute was established last year, so it is still in [its] growing stages,” said Rajesh Rajamani, associate director of research at the Minnesota Robotics Institute. “We are trying to promote cross collaboration between faculty from various departments who do robotics-related research and have one roof where many different faculty with different expertise can come together and grow research in robotics.” 

The program was designed to offer a single degree that provides knowledge in many different areas of robotics, as many bachelor’s programs place emphasis on one particular field of study.

The program’s creators looked at other universities with similar programs such as Northwestern University, said Maria Gini, a professor in the College of Science and Engineering. There has been an increase in robotics programs at universities nationwide, she said.  

“Robotics is more than computer science, but some students may not have time to take robotics courses. The program really is interdisciplinary and gives an opportunity to be well rounded in all aspects of robotics,” Gini said.

Students will also have the opportunity to present their research and capstone projects to potential employers.

“There are a number of companies in the area, and faculty work with companies and know what kind of students they need. There is always an exchange of information between faculty and companies, and many of these companies come to the [University] to find students,” Gini said. 

In the coming years, faculty members plan to further develop the degree and eventually expand to offer a Ph.D. program.

“Long term, we’d like to do a Ph.D. in robotics. But the main reason we are starting to create this program is to slowly build our master’s degree,” Gini said. “It’s better for companies trying to serve the community and state, and we hope to get there eventually.”