Robotics is one of the most promising fields in Russia and in the world. In a little while, robots will replace the majority of employees in production facilities. There is already a shortage of personnel in our country who can work with these machines. In the coming years the shortage will only grow. Getting an education in robotics now means becoming a sought-after and well-paid specialist in the future.
We talked to Roman Lavrenov, a Junior Researcher at the Laboratory of intelligent robotics systems (LIRS) at the Higher Institute of Information Technology and Information Systems (ITIS), about why studying of robot programming is important and why ITIS is the best place to do it.
- Roman, why do students need a master's degree in robotics? And will two years be enough to learn programming robots?
- Robotics is a separate field in IT. We teach students how to create software for all kinds of robots. You can't get that kind of knowledge just from an IT degree. And if a person has already worked with robots, a master's degree immensely broadens and deepens its knowledge and skills.
Our program gives students completely new knowledge. For example, in the Robotics Operating System course alone, students learn C++ and Linux programming as well as modeling mobile robots and autonomy algorithms for them.
Is two years enough time for a person to be great at robotics and get a good job? Yes, and from our side we do our best to do that. But the final result always depends on the student itself: on its desire to learn, responsibility and motivation. Sometimes four years are not enough for people to learn the basics.
The master's degree in robotics of the Higher Institute of ITIS gives you the whole range of knowledge you need to work in any field of robotics: industrial and mobile. With this knowledge, a graduate student has the opportunity to work both in Russia and abroad.
- Today several universities teach robotics. What is the difference between the program at the Higher Institute of ITIS and other universities?
- Our training is correlated to practice. Students work with real robots for two years. The master's thesis that they prepare is the result of practical work, which makes it innovative and interesting.
In addition, there are few universities in the country and in the world that have such a set of robots like our institute has. For example, we have a mobile robot "Engineer" by Servosila company, PMB 2, industrial robots KR 3 AGILUS, anthropomorphic robots ROBOTIS-OP-2 and OP-3 (you can see the full list here).
Our students start working with robots in their first year of study. They write algorithms, test them and do scientific research based on experiments.
We don't limit the topics for students to work on. For example, a person can do 3D object recognition from cameras, but then it can learn deeper camera calibration and change its research. Even within one topic, there are much opportunities to grow.
Another important point is to support the student at all stages of learning. We are interested in the excellent academic performance of our master's students. The curriculum is structured so that all parts of the dissertation are done gradually. First we help a student in the theory of his issue, and here the first part of his thesis is ready. Later starts the practical research, from the second part of which the thesis is gradually formed. As a result, by the end of two years, a student has a high-quality and complete work, which he prepares not two weeks before the defense. This raises his level as a researcher, especially if the person goes in for science in the future.
If a student has academic difficulties, he can always write to his supervisor and get a quick answer. In addition, we have regular meetings aimed at discussion the progress of a dissertation and the difficulties that arise. We also help students with writing scientific papers and participating in international conferences. We make all the conditions for people, who want to study and to perform well.
Our program is based on the master's programs of universities that are world leaders in IT: Carnegie Melon University (USA), University of Tsukuba (Japan), Bristol University (Great Britain).
- Who can apply for the master's program in robotics? What is the minimum level of knowledge a potential master's student should have?
- Your background is not of great importance for us (we have master's students who graduated from a liberal arts department). We are much more important your motivation and desire to learn. But, of course, it will be easier for a technical graduate. There is a minimum level that a student should have: the basics of programming and the ability to read in English. It is supposed that a person should know what the program is, the source code, the process of assembling a program. If you have no experience with robots, that's not bad. We are here to teach you everything. The main thing is desire and motivation.
- Will there be any special features and innovations in the program for the 1-year master's degree students this year?
- Yes! Our educational program is quite flexible. We can revise and change things based on student needs and market demands. A year has passed since we launched the master's program in robotics at the Higher Institute of ITIS, and it has shown we need to make some changes. For example, we revised the level of assignments. Moreover, we will involve new courses on industrial robotics and we will add the basics of C++ programming.
When we were accepting our first students in 2017, we had a small amount of robots. It has much expanded now (you can see the entire list here). Plus we have a 3D printer, and we can print some extra parts. Students now have more objects for research.
- And can you tell us about the students’ research? What projects are they working on?
- We have projects on swarm robotics. It's a very popular and relevant topic now. There are students, who are solving problems in controlling a heterogeneous group of robots: a combination of ground and airborne robots. There are projects on autonomous exploration of buildings by robots. There's a more mathematical project where the robot has to overcome an obstacle and maintain its balance, so it doesn't flip over. It becomes necessary in autonomous exploration on uneven surfaces: rubble, mountains, mines. The list of topics is wide, and students can find themselves in applied and basic research.
- What options are available after graduating with a master's degree? What does a master's degree in robotics provide?
- To begin with, one gets a diploma in an on-fire specialty. There aren't that many robotics specialists in Russia right now. We are graduating really rare specialists for whom the sky is the limit. A graduate has two choices: to go into industry or into science. If a person chooses the first option, there are many employment options: robotics specialists are needed now in factories, where industrial robots are used, in special services, such as the Ministry of Emergency Situations, because even now machines are involved in search and rescue operations. Moreover, a person can easily find a job abroad. Again, we give them all the opportunities: high-quality education and professional English. Speaking directly about companies, our graduates are welcome at the KAMAZ and at the Zarnitsa production association, at the Eidos group of companies and at producing mobile robots company Servosila. This is not the complete list.
The second way is science. Again, we provide an excellent base for an academic career. After the master's program a person graduates with publications in international journals, with experience of participating in prestigious international conferences. And we give several academic courses in research methods and preparation of scientific publications. We also have a dual postgraduate program: in Russia and in Europe (the University of Messina in Italy and several Japanese universities). A person defends in two places at once and receives a candidate's degree and a PhD.
Read more about the master's degree program in robotics at the Higher Institute of ITIS
A program Head: Professor Evgeni Magid
Address: 35 Kremlin St., Kazan, 420008, room 1410
Phone:8 (843) 221-34-33; e-mail: email@example.com
You can learn more about the program here. Click here to see questions of entrance exams. Useful links for applicants are here.