Those looking to get in on the robotics game have a number of choices in where they might go to learn about robo-topics like mobility, manipulation, and artificial intelligence.
A number of top-notch universities around the country (as well as some less-than-obvious names) offer robotics education programs befitting plenty of people looking to build the next great robot.
Whether you want to build a better Roomba or a new best friend, here are ten colleges that will give you the tools you need.
The Robotics and Intelligent Machines Lab at UC Berkeley has an entire department devoted to replicating animal movement for the sake of improving robotic mobility. The school's Laboratory for Automation Science and Engineering gets into more general robotics work, designing solutions for things like robot-assisted surgery and automated manufacturing. There's even an entire Computer Vision Group so that students might learn how to help robots make sense of what they 'see.'
It's an incredibly robust college for robotics that will likely meet your interests no matter what they are.
Mining is an incredibly complex pursuit, and robots can step in to do dangerous work to save lives. Someone needs to build them, and the Colorado School of Mines has its Center for Automation, Robotics, and Distributed Intelligence (CARDI) to equip people with the tools to do so.
Because it's a mining-centric school, curriculum runs the gamut from communication protocols to environmental considerations. CARDI students meet once a month over lunch to keep each other apprised of their research -- one person will give a presentation on what they're up to, and the meetings frequently feature a guest to speak on topics relevant to the industry.
If you want to check out a cool project to come out of the school, we recommend 'Intelligent Geosystems.'
USC's Robotics Research Lab encourages undergrads to get their hands dirty by taking directed research credits from faculty. Graduate students are invited to do research and build things in the university's robotics labs.
A dedicated page exists just to showcase videos of USC robotic creations in action. One of them is a robot for children that blows bubbles!
The projects described on the website for Columbia University's Robotics Group are impressive to say the least. Students have built autonomous vehicles for navigating urban environments, 3-D simulation tools to teach robots how to interact with the real world, and even a system for facilitate aspects of surgery-by-robot.
The program is headed up by Professor Peter Allen, who was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation.
Often referred to as the 'Harvard of the Midwest,' WashU offers a masters of engineering in robotics. The program is built around giving students the necessary experience to find professional robotics work upon graduation, and the curriculum is built upon making sense of robotic components like sensors and actuators, then finding new ways to use them to solve problems.
Students enrolled in the program will go hands-on with mobile robotics, robot-human interaction, and brain-computer interfaces.
Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines is led by Henrik Christensen, a noted roboticist and thinker who recently speculated that children born today will never have to drive a conventional car. He's constantly cited as a source for where robotics is heading in the future, even speculating here as to what Google will do with all its recent robotics acquisitions.
The program aims to give students an understanding of a diversity of robotics topics, such as mechanics, interactions, perceptions, and artificial intelligence and cognition.
MIT is nearly synonymous with developing cool, cutting-edge technology.
Its Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has spawned a number of robotic creations, and its long list of notable alumni includes folks like Colin Angle and Helen Greiner, co-founders of iRobot; Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics; and Matt Mason, who is now director of The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
There's something to be said for a school whose alumni make up the majority of the country's computer science professors.