Average salary is up to $100K for graduates of new program coming to Columbus State

A look into the FIRST Robotics Competition at CSU

High school students from across Georgia flocked to Columbus State University this weekend to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. Laura Richardson talks about the competition.
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High school students from across Georgia flocked to Columbus State University this weekend to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. Laura Richardson talks about the competition.

As early as the fall 2019 semester, Columbus State University will start offering a new program to prepare students for a lucrative career field with a promising job outlook.

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents has approved CSU’s plan to establish bachelor’s and master’s degrees in robotics engineering.

CSU will be the state’s first institution to offer these degrees, USG vice chancellor for communications Jen Ryan told the Ledger-Enquirer. Georgia Tech’s robotics engineering program is for doctorates, she said.

“This is a game changer for our university, our community and our current and future students,” CSU President Chris Markwood said in the university’s news release. “The job outlook in robotics engineering is extremely bright, with an increasingly high demand for talent right here in the Columbus. This is yet another opportunity for us to work with local employers to train tomorrow’s workforce with the exact skills needed within our region.”

When the new program will begin depends on approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Greg Hudgison, CSU’s university relations director, told the Ledger-Enquirer.

A degree in robotics engineering can help college students land positions with an average salary of up to $100,000, according to Employment in the mechanical engineering field, which includes robotics, is projected to grow by an average of 9 percent per year from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The need for a robotics engineering program in the Columbus region became even more apparent following the U.S. Army’s relocation of the Armor School from Fort Knox to Fort Benning in 2011, joining the Infantry School to form the Maneuver Center of Excellence. That’s when CSU started offering an associate’s degree in engineering studies and a 21-credit-hour robotics certificate. Now, CSU students will be able to earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in engineering without needing to transfer elsewhere.

“We will also work with community partners to provide our students with internship and job opportunities here in Columbus,” Clinton Barineau, chairman of CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences, said in the news release.

Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, expects this to be good news for local employers beyond Fort Benning.

“Anybody who’s building things or making things will have more possibilities if you have the talent available to do it,” he told the Ledger-Enquirer.

It also will help the Chamber recruit such companies to the area and help motivate local companies to expand, especially as they try to automate their operations more, Anderson said.

He noted robotics engineering is “driven by artificial intelligence. So AI is transferable to all types of technology.” He mentioned the medical, automotive and food processing fields as examples of local employers who could benefit from CSU’s new program.

In addition to CSU’s proximity to Fort Benning, the work of CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center and the university’s role as host to the Georgia FIRST Robotics Competition also helped secure approval for the new program, CSU said in the news release. With facilities for 3D design and printing, the CCSSC has been engaged in robotics teacher training, student research programs, summer camps, competitions, and federally-funded grant activities related for more than half a decade. As host of the Georgia FIRST Robotics Competition, CSU has introduced youth to robotics opportunities.

“We pride ourselves on offering innovative education programs that ensure students are well-prepared for existing jobs in the field,” CSU Provost Deborah Bordelon said in the news release. “The new robotics engineering program will further demonstrate the crucial role that CSU plays in developing a highly-skilled workforce for industry partners regionally and nationally.”

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Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.