Program Overview

Offered jointly by the College of Computing and the College of Engineering, the Ph.D. program in Robotics is the first truly multidisciplinary robotics degree of its kind in the world—and only the second robotics doctorate offered in the U.S. The program is closely tied to the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech and involves the schools of Interactive Computing, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering.

The objective of the Ph.D. program is to educate a new breed of multidisciplinary researchers in robotics—men and women who will provide leadership in this rapidly evolving discipline's enormous potential.

With more than 60 faculty engaged in robotics research, Georgia Tech is already among the top three universities in the world in the field.

The Ph.D. curriculum makes extensive use of existing courses. Three additional courses provide a one-semester introduction to robotics topics and a two-semester multidisciplinary robotics research experience. Students are required to complete 36 semester hours of coursework beyond the BS degree and successfully conduct, document and defend original research culminating in a doctoral thesis.

The program is designed to meet the growing industrial and societal demand for advanced education and research in robotics. The fundamental technologies are here: high-energy batteries, low-power motors, lightweight structures, and fast, embedded computers. These technologies, pushed forward by consumer electronics, are necessary for the realization of intelligent autonomous robots. Society needs to invest in the education of the robotics researcher to leverage recent advances and provide significant economic return.

One factor driving the usefulness of robots is the changing demographics of the industrialized world. This change will have a significant impact on society, and health care systems will be challenged to meet the new demands. In defense and security there is a tremendous need for new types of robot systems. The Department of Defense wants at least 15 percent of its transportation needs handled by autonomous vehicles by the year 2015. At the same time these technologies for defense will spin off systems for civilian applications such as transportation automation, traffic monitoring and logistics. Add to this the established markets for robots in manufacturing, forestry and agriculture (e.g.; poultry processing), as well as the rapidly growing robotics industries in entertainment, homeland security, healthcare applications (including assistive and surgical robotics), search and rescue robotics, and law enforcement robots. The implication of these observations is that we are facing an opportunity and a strong need for research and education in robotics.

A strong research and education program in robotics helps Georgia Tech define “the technological university of the 21st century” in a substantive and paradigm-shifting way. Such a program enhances our ability to support entrepreneurial activity in the field. In addition, it provides new opportunities and associated intellectual capital for economic growth in robotics and related technologies in the state of Georgia.

If this kind of work interests you and fits with your career aspirations, why not go ahead and apply?