Pittsburgh Colleges And Industry Create Associate Degree Program To Teach Skills For Building, Servicing Robots and Embedded Systems

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PITTSBURGH—More than two dozen industry partners have joined with Carnegie Mellon University and other Pittsburgh-area universities and community colleges to create an associate degree program that will train technicians to build and maintain robots and other embedded computer systems, which have become ubiquitous in today's world.

The two-year associate degree in Robotics Engineering Technology was developed by the Robotics Corridor, a public-private consortium dedicated to building the infrastructure necessary to support the robotics industry in southwestern Pennsylvania and adjoining states. Graduates will be qualified to work as mid-level managers or highly qualified technologists in all technology-intensive industries, said Robin Shoop, director of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Academy and director of the Robotics Corridor project.

Coursework will be offered beginning this fall at California University of Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County Community College and Butler County Community College, and in 2010 at Community College of Beaver County.

Pittsburgh's growing robotics industry is only one potential employer for the program's graduates.

"Smart systems are everywhere; we just don't call them robots," he explained. "They already are in your home, your office and your car and are designed to help people do things quicker, better and more efficiently." Products as diverse as automobiles, medical equipment and heating and air conditioning systems include embedded computer systems and industries such as mining, agriculture and construction increasingly rely on embedded systems.

Building, installing and maintaining these rapidly advancing systems will require technologists who not only are computer literate, but also are trained to be lifelong learners, Shoop said. To that end, the Robotics Corridor received input from 25 area industries about the types of technical and learning skills that needed to be incorporated into the new degree program.

Credits from the associate degree program are transferrable to four-year bachelor's degree programs in electrical, computer and manufacturing engineering. The University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University, Youngstown State University and the Community College of Allegheny County are among the partners who have developed the Robotics Engineering Technology associate degree.

The Robotics Corridor project is funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among others. The Robotics Academy is an educational outreach program within the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science's Robotics Institute.

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice@cs.cmu.edu