University of Minnesota to offer new master’s degree in robotics

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering announced that it will offer a new master’s degree in robotics to meet the growing local and global workforce needs for robotics engineers and scientists in a wide range of industries, including medicine, manufacturing, transportation, environmental monitoring, and precision agriculture. Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2020 enrollment.

"Robots, automation and artificial intelligence have become a part of our everyday lives. We have robots that can help perform surgeries, monitor our agriculture crops, help make our cars safer, and can even help us care for the elderly," said Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, director of the University’s new Minnesota Robotics Institute. "Our new master’s degree program will educate the next generation of robotic engineers and scientists who have both critical thinking skills and technical ability to propose innovative ideas and analyze solutions for the future in areas we haven’t even thought of yet."

The three semester Master of Science (M.S.) in Robotics program will be offered by the new Minnesota Robotics Institute. The program will bring together the knowledge and expertise from more than 30 faculty in nine departments across five different University of Minnesota colleges in the areas relevant to robotics. Students will collaborate with faculty from several academic departments in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, and many others. The program will use the new state-of-the-art Gemini-Huntley Robotics Research Laboratory, which opened in the University’s Shepherd Labs building in fall 2018 after a $12 million renovation.

Unlike other similar master’s programs in robotics, the new program at the University of Minnesota is focused on real-world research and allows students to complete either a master’s thesis or a capstone project in order to receive their degree.

Students in the program will also have strong connections to key industries and top companies in Minnesota and beyond. The Minnesota Robotics Institute is currently adding on-campus visiting staff from Honeywell and there are vast research options and summer internships at industry collaborators such as 3M, Amazon, Honeywell, Toro, General Mills, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Land O’Lakes, and many others. The program will also host speakers from around the world to talk about their research and will collaborate with many educational and governmental institutions across the country.

"Traditional engineering programs do not necessarily provide the tools that systems engineers need when developing robotics/autonomous systems solutions," wrote Jeff Radke, Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology Director of Advanced Electronics and Services in a letter of support for the new master’s program. "A new multi-disciplinary approach is needed and the proposed M.S. program in Robotics significantly reduces the skill gap in this area."

To help students with the cost, the Minnesota Robotics Institute will be offering some full and partial scholarships. Teaching assistantships may be available to qualified applicants. Students also have an opportunity for paid summer internships.

"We truly believe we have a one-of-a-kind master’s program in robotics that combines the best cutting-edge theory and research in artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, robotics, and sensing," said Papanikolopoulos. "This master’s program will provide the leading professionals and entrepreneurs in all of these areas for years to come."