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I'm a first year electronics engineering student. I love almost all the aspects of robotics - the electronics, algorithms, control theory etc. I can't stand the mechanical aspect of robotics though.

Can I have a fulfilling career in Robotics if I hate mechanics but love all other parts of robotics? I'm ready to learn mechanics if I absolutely have to, but would strongly prefer not to learn any more than the absolute basics.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean hate mechanics? What do you think mechanics is? $\endgroup$ – Guy Sirton Oct 28 '13 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ I would love to ask the same question with "hate mechanics" replaced by "hate electrical circuits (and electronics, except sensors)" ! :P $\endgroup$ – metsburg Oct 29 '13 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ "hate" is a strong word! I'd say "I don't care much for". In fact, I don't care much for Control myself let alone mechanics or even electronics (I'm a software dude). Still, I'm working in robotics, writing embedded and non-embedded software and everything is quite ok! $\endgroup$ – Shahbaz Nov 1 '13 at 13:24
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The answer is 'yes'.

A more detailed answer likely depends on how you define "robotics". But generally, robotics applications are considered to require a very broad spectrum of knowledge. So while most robotics includes some form of mechanical function, you could easily specialize in artificial intelligence, microcontroller design, or any number of specialties without ever having to learn advanced mechanical theory and application. I would even say you are at advantage; I would guess, but do not know for certain, that most people are the other way. They enjoy the mechanical real-world aspects of robotics, not so much the abstract topics.

Given what you say you enjoy though, I would have to wonder if "robotics" should be your focus vs. a more general computer engineering or science focus.

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Working in robotics doesn't mean that you must understand (or enjoy) all the relevant disciplines. It simply means that you must understand that you are one part of a team that produces a robotic system. On the other hand, what skills you have will determine which teams will find you valuable as a member -- smaller teams require everyone to bring multiple skills to the table, but in larger teams you can get extreme specialization.

At a minimum, you need only understand that the mechanical system will constrain what can be with the other systems (e.g. you may have a hard maximum or minimum acceleration, finite range of motion, limit on total battery current, etc). You will work within those constraints.

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Robotics is by definition a subject rooted in mechanics and if you "hate" this subject then surely there will always be an large part of this industry that you "hate". So I would suggest you review either:

a. What you mean by "I hate mechanics" or "the mechanical side" b. Understand what you like about Robotics because in the end all of the work is translated into the mechanical side (electronics, algorithms, control theory etc.). That is this work has to be implemented in the real world. And this is where the real rewards, off seeing the results of your work, will come from.

Note: My experience is that if you work hard at the mechanics side then ultimately you will learn to like it as your work translates into real things.

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I have been working with Numerical Control for more than 30 years. This is a arm of the robotics genera which doesn't appear to be touched upon. What I do is programming, not mechanics. There are several types of jobs available in NC without getting your hands dirty. Most of the people I interface with are mechanical and manufacturing engineers.

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