Author Topic: Majors for robotic interests.  (Read 1686 times)

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Offline aaronhammondTopic starter

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Majors for robotic interests.
« on: December 13, 2009, 11:42:33 AM »
Well, I've finished my applications for college, and I've ran into yet another roadblock. What should I major in?
I'm the co-team lead of my local FIRST robotics team, and president of Controls (wiring and programming), and I'm primarily interested in robotic controls systems. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I should major in, and this significantly affects what college I choose to attend. Essentially, I cannot decide between Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or Computer Engineering. Any suggestions?

PS: If it helps, I've already gotten my acceptance letter for Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and I anticipate being accepted into MIT and CMU as well, as I scored a 2350 on my SAT, and have a 4.5 GPA.

Offline waltr

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Re: Majors for robotic interests.
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2009, 03:30:41 PM »
Great schools for robotics.
Do ask the schools about their majors and how common are the courses during the first year or two for the different majors.
It may very well be that you can easily change for one to another of the majors you listed.

I obtained my degree in Physics and am working as an Engineer at a small firm so I get to work on various parts of projects. I'm sure that you will be required to take almost the same courses as a Physic major for the first year or two.

Good luck and hope some one else also has a few suggestions.

Offline Weird Fishes

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Re: Majors for robotic interests.
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2009, 05:18:49 PM »
As a Computer Engineering student, I'm gonna say Computer Engineering is the best of those three :P.

In all seriousness though, it really depends what you want to do, and where your interests lie. I'll try to give you information that I would've liked to have a year ago.

I'll give you a little bit of detail of what I see each of those programs being, I have first hand experience in CE and I know people in each of the other two.

CE: CE is basically EE+CS, actually. Might sound a bit cliche, but it is a pretty good middle ground. You get to do lots of embedded stuff, and learn about both hardware and software. Another nice thing to note is that out of all the engineering disciplines at my school (University Of Waterloo (That's in Canada, if you weren't aware)), CE had the highest co-op employment rate. I chose CE because I like both hardware and software but didn't want to do either one alone. I like programming microcontrollers, and the fundamentals of electronics and computers. I think those interests fit very well with my program.

EE: EE is more theoretical than CE (in general), and with less focus on computers. At UW they follow the same curriculum for a few terms and then some courses branch off into different directions. EE's do electrical theory/power/etc and we (CE) do compilers and operating systems/etc. I'd choose this if I were less into programming and computers and more into electricity/power distribution/etc.

CS: CS is essentially just programming, and algorithms/etc. They don't go much into detail about hardware, and don't know too much about the internal workings of the stuff. Of course, one could take all ECE electives and change that, but in general this is the case. I'd take this if I could care less about what a transistor was, but had a poster of Dijkstra on my wall.

Another thing to note: Engineering is a professional program. I'm not entirely sure what it's like in the states, but in Canada it's much more structured and controlled than CS or any other technology program. I don't have any electives until the second half of my second year, whereas a CS student takes multiple electives starting from the first term. Lots of these electives aren't technical either (think languages or psychology). Personally, I'd hate that.

ECE curriculum at my school: http://ugradcalendar.uwaterloo.ca/?pageID=10430

I'd also highly highly recommend co-op if you have the opportunity. It's a great way to network, pay for school and learn new skills they can't teach in the classroom. It'll help tremendously when you graduate too.

Based on the information you gave me though, I'd have to say you sound like a computer engineer to me.

BTW: I was also in FIRST for 2 years, the last year being team leader and in charge of programming and electronics too. I still plan on watching the kickoff even though my old team has died and I have no stake in the competition. I might even try to check out the regional in Toronto, since I'll be working there for my co-op term. Good luck this year.

Offline ericthered

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Re: Majors for robotic interests.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2009, 07:33:46 PM »
Perhaps you should try what I'm doing. I go to Johnson and wales for the robotics major for the two years, after that I would migrate Electronics Engineering which the robotics major also transfers to so that would give me a 4 four year. Then I plan to leave Johnson and Wales to go to a more mechanical based college like cmu hopefully for another 4 years  :D

Offline webgeek

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Re: Majors for robotic interests.
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 08:48:54 AM »
As an employer of many CS grads and an owner of a small software development shop (video games actually) I'd suggest steering away from CS for robotics. As previously stated, CS is heavy on programming/computer theory and light on everything else. I'd imagine MIT actually has a robotics degree though don't they? Or at least a track for robotics or such? I know they do a ton of robotics research. I think their media lab is amazing too.


Offline Soeren

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Re: Majors for robotic interests.
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 02:29:39 PM »

Being an electronics engineer, I have to say MIT!
It's an institution that people in the trade (whatever their bias and major) have the utmost respect for - I wish I had taken my education there (but it would have been a bitch pendling from Copenhagen each morning ;D)

A rather fast and fairly heavy robot with quite large wheels needs what? A lot of power?
Please remember...
Engineering is based on numbers - not adjectives


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