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Robotics Technologist  What They Do

Just the Facts

Mechanical Engineering Technicians Career Video

Insider Info

dotWhen you think of robots, you probably conjure up images of R2D2 and C3P0 trekking across the desert, or of cyborgs stomping about their spacecraft. These robots seem high-tech and fanciful -- not something that you'd meet in everyday life. But the future is already here: robots are working away in many industries, homes and companies at this very moment.

dotRobots are used in place of people in a variety of industries. Automated welding, painting, sorting, cutting, loading, pressing and crushing are all well established.

dotAstronauts often use robotics aeronautic technology to do their work. Robots are also used in research and development. "In general, robots are custom designed and built by the scientists that will be using them," says Skip Carter, a robotics technologist in California.

dotRobots also venture into areas that are dangerous to humans. They work in areas with hazardous materials, in outer space and in toxic or inhospitable locations.

dotThe people who design and create these hardy machines are called robotics technologists, sometimes referred to as robotics and automation technologists.

dotRobotics technology is the integration of mechanical, electrical and computer technology; it is a hands-on job. Technologists write specifications for new equipment and then program the machine, often adjusting and redesigning the initial robotics components.

dotOnce the design is completed, the technologists oversee the assembly of the robot. They keep records and write reports on the progress and success of the new equipment. "I always log results into a logbook for each robot," says Carter. "It's very important, so that I know what to do and not to do in the future."

dotTechnologists help integrate the robotics and automated equipment into existing manufacturing systems, and fine-tune it according to the old system's requirements. During the process of creating a robot, they have to troubleshoot for malfunctions, maintain equipment, read and interpret technical manuals and carry out and supervise research projects.

dotRobotics technologists work in labs, offices, manufacturing plants or on construction sites. Some may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals or toxic materials.

dotRobotics technologists are sometimes required to work with and test materials. This requires nimble fingers and an ability to work with fine instrumentation.

dotA workweek of 35 to 40 hours is typical. In jobs where there is responsibility for maintenance, shift work may be necessary. Overtime is sometimes required on special projects or for maintenance on vital production equipment.

dotTechnologists spend most of their time at a computer terminal while designing a robot, but they also must stand for long hours when they are assembling the equipment. This work may require bending, stretching and some lifting. It can be noisy if done on an assembly line.

dotWorking in robotics can take you to a wide range of industries. Some techs design and build lab equipment at research centers and universities. Others troubleshoot and maintain production line equipment in industries, do sales and product demonstration of technical equipment to industry, design and build electronic control systems for marine vessels, or design and build automated equipment for use in surgery and nuclear medicine.

At a Glance

Create new types of robotic machinery

  • This career requires a combination of mechanical, electrical and computer skills
  • The majority of work is hands-on
  • Look for programs in robotics and automation