So you want to get into robotics? Robotics can at times be an intimidating area to try and break into, especially if you’re not surrounded by people who are as enthusiastic about it as you are. But don’t let this hold you back from diving into this exciting field. There are plenty of ways to kickstart your robotics journey, whether you’re just looking to gain more education, or you want to start a career.
If you’re ready, keep scrolling to read our 9 most helpful tips about how to get into robotics.
Do Your Research
No matter what project you’re starting, if it’s new to you, you’ll want to do your research first. Research will help you build up your knowledge on the subject before diving in, preparing you for any surprises. This is important for many reasons. First, it’s good to learn about all the options available to you before making any purchases or deciding on a specific robot to build. You don’t want to get in over your head before you’re even able to start a project.
Second, by researching robotics kits, techniques, or equipment, you can manage your expectations about what’s possible for you. Having big dreams and goals is important and necessary, but at the same time, you want to make sure you’re being realistic. Read up on articles about robotics and find some books that speak to your interests. Watch videos of other people building robots or working with robotics materials and see what challenges and triumphs they’ve faced.
After you’ve done your research, you’ll still want to start small. It might be tempting to design a robot that can do all the chores in your home, but unfortunately, that won’t be feasible for you (yet). Start off by playing around with motors, or purchasing a robotics kit to see how certain mechanisms are built. You can also try disassembling a simple robot to see how it functions and then teach yourself how to put it back together. No matter how you choose to approach this step, it’s important to remember to stay positive and know that you might not be great at it right away. By starting small, you’ll ease yourself into a fun and rewarding project, which will help ensure that you’ll stick with it. It will also prepare you for the next tip we have laid out, which is finding help from a professional.
Take an Online Robotics Course
As previously mentioned, once you feel that you have enough experience with robotics and you’re ready to go deeper, consider reaching out to professionals. One of the very best ways to get into robotics is to take a course or even enroll in a program at a college. If you’re serious about getting into robotics, and you see yourself becoming a technician, you’ll have to have the proper field training. Through a robotics program, you’ll gain important knowledge from professionals in the industry while also gaining hands-on experience. You’ll learn about robot classifications, programming, artificial intelligence, and you’ll prepare yourself for an exciting career.
Some robotics programs are more in-depth than others, so you’ll want to make sure that you have the correct qualifications before applying.
Join a Robotics Group
Another great way to get started with robotics is by joining a robotics group in your area. You might be surprised by how many there are out there. Some might be run by student associations out of colleges and universities, but are open to the general public. Other groups might be run by like minded individuals who love to work with robots and share their knowledge with others. Either way, a quick Google search or inquiry with your local college will point you in the right direction.
Robotics clubs promote education, community, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. If you’re new to robotics and prefer to learn visually, then seeing how other people create and work with these machines will help a lot. It’s also a wonderful way to meet new friends and build lasting relationships.
Try Building Your Own Prototype
If you’re comfortable enough with the amount of research you’ve done and you have a design in mind that you think could be simple enough to execute, then try building your own prototype!. Building your own prototype is a great first step before actually working with robotics. First, you can use pen and paper or any type of illustration software to design your prototype. Then, you can use physical materials to build out your design. If you have access to a 3D printer, this would be a beneficial way to go about building a prototype.
However, if you don’t have access to a 3D printer, don’t panic. You can get crafty with other materials that are available online, at the store, or even with items that are laying around your house. Use the wheels from toy cars or use scraps from broken electronics. Take apart a simple robot that you already have or don’t use anymore and see if you can recycle any of the parts. Just make sure to keep safety top of mind and don’t use anything that could potentially be dangerous. Wear appropriate protection around your face and hands, and don’t leave anything plugged in unattended.
The only way you’ll learn anything new is by asking questions. A lot of questions. This includes asking for help from people in robot hobby groups or finding online forums. If you’re interested in a robotics career, reach out to someone who is already in the field and ask them if they can spare 15 minutes of their time. Most people are happy to help, especially when it comes to career advice or starting a new educational program.
People who are passionate about what they do enjoy mentoring beginners and watching them succeed. However, if you aren’t able to find someone who can spare their time, don’t get discouraged. Keep asking around and gather different resources from all over so you have multiple areas of support. Build your network and communicate with them regularly.
Learn How to Program
If you want to get into robotics, you’re going to need to learn how to program. Learning how to program might sound intimidating, but there are plenty of beginner resources out there that can help you get started. For free resources, check out online tutorials, videos, or even podcasts. Connect with people who already know how to program and ask them how they first started.
If you already know how to program, now is a good time to brush up on your skills and maybe learn more advanced programming languages. Again, taking online courses or enrolling in a robotics program can help you with this skill, offering hands-on experience and support from teachers who have lots of experience.
Learn From Other People’s Mistakes
While it’s good to know what you should be doing, sometimes it’s just as important to know what you shouldn’t be doing. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and seeing where other people went wrong and gaining knowledge from their downfalls can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. For example, ask where someone went wrong during their first robot build. Figure out the things that they wish they knew before starting. This can include anything from not spending enough time testing their robot, to trying to do too much with their robot. An example of this would be a designer getting too carried away with the capabilities of their design, making the work cell too complex. This could lead to difficult programming solutions or processor speed limitations.
Many people are very comfortable talking about where they messed up or what they would have done differently, especially if it means that it will help someone else. Also, talking about past mistakes only reinforces how far people have come as designers or technicians.
At the end of the day, do you want to know the best way to learn more about robotics? Just start building! It might be intimidating at first, but sometimes the best way to learn something new is to just begin playing around. Don’t worry about getting anything wrong or not being good enough. And don’t spend too much time planning, as you might get overwhelmed. If you’re really interested in getting started with robotics, you might have to step outside your comfort zone, meet new people, and play around with gadgets that are unfamiliar. But that’s all part of the fun!
Where to Start Learning Robotics
Whether you want to start a career in robotics, or you’re just interested in enhancing your robotics skills, there are plenty of ways to begin. Do some research and find out if there are any clubs or hobby groups in your area. Purchase a starter robot kit and play around with it to learn the basics. Or, if you’re ready to go a step further, look into robotics courses that can offer in-depth learning and hands-on experience.
George Brown College offers Robotics Technician Training that’s designed to prepare people for a career in robotics. Reach out to them today to learn more about how to apply.