Automation: Run towards or away from it?

Get ready for the rise of the robot programmer

Rick Delgado

Anyone with at least some experience in programming will want to take advantage of the robot programming trend. In this article, tech writer Rick Delgado talks about the impact of automation on jobs and weighs in on the skills programmers should have in order to fit into this scenario.

Automation is one of those topics that provokes a great deal of excitement and trepidation in equal measures. On one hand, the use of automation through robotics could lead to more products at a lower price, essentially maximizing the efficiency of operations and freeing up employees to engage in more activities attuned to creativity. On the other hand, more robots and automation also means people may lose their jobs due to them being taken over by these new mechanical helpers.

Automation is going to have a serious impact on jobs both today and well into the future, but as robots and robotic practices become commonplace, that also opens up more job opportunities. More specifically, robot programmers are expected to be an area worth focusing on as the years go on, and anyone with at least some experience in this field will want to take advantage of the trend.

Demand for robot programmers is expected to grow by a large amount over the rest of the decade. “Interesting Engineering” recently released a list of the Top 5 Engineering Jobs of The Future, and robotics tops the list. Businesses getting into robotics and automation are going to want skilled minds to come work for them, meaning they’ll be looking for robot programmers rather intensely. That all translates into more jobs for those people with the right skill sets. A prediction from the National Robotics Education Foundation estimated that the number of robotics-related job openings will grow to almost 500,000 jobs by the year 2020. It’s a growing field, one that still has room for development and experimentation, making it that much more attractive to people going into related areas.

Of course, many people already deep into computer programming might think their skills translate rather easily to the robotics realm, but that’s not necessarily the case. Many experts agree that robot programming requires different talents, though there is definitely crossover between the two. Part of that stems from different areas where a robot programmer may focus his or her skills. Some may choose to program at the hardware level, determining how a robot moves, for example, or figuring out where to place the sensors so that they can capture the most data in the most efficient way possible. The software level will require a different mindset since it focuses more on the algorithms at work underneath the surface. Coding these algorithms means having a knowledge of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data that may not be needed for the hardware side of things. What both of these strategies indicate is that simply switching from computers to robots isn’t the smooth transition that many may think it is on the surface.

SEE ALSO: Skill sets that help you cope with automation takeover

As the demand for robot programmers rises, so too will the need for the right training programs and courses to get more people into this field. Having some knowledge of computer science and robotics will be extremely valuable for people looking for jobs, and universities are recognizing this demand by providing classes for it. Already, people can find programs that help students earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in robotics and related areas, giving them an obvious advantage when reaching the job market. Employers will also be looking for people that have some experience with robotics, sometimes through their use of robotics kits. And of course, the best way to gain the skills needed is through constant practice. Businesses want to have capable employees that can make full use of the robot-heavy trend we’re all seeing.

The greater use of robots in industries like manufacturing may seem to indicate machines are taking over jobs, but it can also lead to better opportunities. With more businesses turning to collaborative robots (or co-bots) instead of outright replacing employees, it’s clear there will always be room for both. Robot programmers that can integrate new robotic capabilities to the workplace that increases revenue and streamlines operations will be highly valued. Companies can see the direction where things are going, so it’s easy to see why robot programmers will be a high-paying and highly sought field for many years.

Rick Delgado
Rick Delgado is a freelance technology writer and commentator. Connect with him on Twitter @ricknotdelgaldo.

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Maria Gracia
Maria Gracia
2 years ago

Members of the older generation tend to avoid thinking about the automation, while the younger respondents were more optimistic.