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Creating a new future: WVU unveils undergraduate degree program in robotics

University Rover Challenge

Students working on University Rover Challenge robot. (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

Students in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University will now have a chance to pursue a degree in one of the top ten fastest growing professions globally: robotics.

Story by Kaley LaQuea 
Photo by Brian Persinger

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—

A new World Economic Forum report estimates a 30% increase in the job sector for robotics engineers by 2027. To prepare students for this career market, this new four-year degree program offered by the mechanical and aerospace engineering department is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to excel in the engineering design and production of robotics and autonomous systems solutions and create mechanical, electrical and computer engineering systems to integrate and devise robotics solutions.

As one of less than two dozen undergraduate programs offered in the United States, the robotics engineering degree is a 124-credit interdisciplinary course of study created from partnering efforts of the MAE department and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. To form a solid foundation, students will take courses equally distributed from both departments, followed by a group of core courses specifically on robotics and a robotics capstone design experience.

“Robotics is interdisciplinary by nature, so this provides an option where students can get the best of both worlds,” said Jason Gross, chair of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department. “We have a track record where our students and faculty have already had success in robotics for over a decade and we've already established a strong group of faculty in this area.”

Competing teams from the Statler College have made a name for themselves in robotics, taking first place at both the 2017 NASA Mars Ice Challenge and the 2019 RASC-AL Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge. In 2023, WVU finished first of 104 teams from 15 countries in the University Rover Challenge.

“We’re incredibly proud of the student achievements as a WVU team in robotics competition spaces,” said Yu Gu, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor. “Robotics holds enormous potential for a wide variety of career pathways, and I look forward to the innovative opportunities this new degree program will provide for our students.”

Gu, who has led WVU’s three-time champion team in the NASA Centennial Challenge, directs the Interactive Robotics Laboratory. IRL is currently working on precision robotic pollinators, autonomous planetary rovers and robots for exploring underground and space environments.

Prospective students also have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Jacobs, a recent mechanical and aerospace engineering alumnus, WVU URC team captain and former IRL graduate researcher who was recruited by SpaceX, for the SpaceX Starship Project.

The robotics engineering program will commence in fall 2024. Learn more at the robotics engineering website.


-WVU-

kl/12/18/23

Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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