Tech Offers First Interdisciplinary Robotics Ph.D.

The Colleges of Computing and Engineering at Georgia Tech today announced the nation's first interdisciplinary doctoral degree in robotics to be offered at Georgia Tech. The program, which starts fall semester of 2008, was developed through Georgia Tech's Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (RIM@Georgia Tech), a collaborative research center that combines the educational strength and expertise of both units. Reaching across disciplines and drawing from curricula in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, aerospace, biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, the doctoral degree is designed to educate a new breed of multidisciplinary researchers who will enter the market best prepared to chart a new course for robotics in the United States.

"We are pleased to offer the first truly interdisciplinary robotics Ph.D. program in the country," said Dr. Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics for the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. "Exposing our students to course work from multiple disciplines early on prepares them to think about robotics from a holistic approach once they enter the workforce. True to our mission in robotics at Georgia Tech, our program will recruit and educate outstanding students who will provide leadership in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology."

According to robotics industry associations in North America and Japan, the global robotics market is expected to significantly expand over the next five years, including gains in both the service and personal robotics fields. With a focus on personal and everyday robotics, as well as the future of automation, faculty involved with RIM@Georgia Tech developed the doctoral degree program to best enable students to understand and drive the future role of robotics in society and industry. Approximately 15 candidates per year are expected to be admitted, gradually building the program to 60 enrolled students.

"Over the next five to ten years, robotics technologies will become more integrated throughout various industries that directly impact human activity and culture, such as healthcare, food processing, logistics and others," said Dr. Christensen. "At Georgia Tech, our doctorate students will be guided through their research by at least two faculty members from distinct participating schools, providing more insight and expertise into a specific industry sector or focus area."

Students in the Robotics Ph.D. program must first be admitted to one of the participating academic units, subsequently designated as the student's home unit. Students will then progress through the course requirements consisting of 36 semester hours of core research and elective courses, the passing a comprehensive qualifying exam with written and oral components, and the successful completion, documentation and defense of a piece of original research culminating in a doctoral thesis.

Over 30 faculty members from the schools of Interactive Computing, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering are affiliated with this new Ph.D. program. Faculty involved in the development of the new doctoral program include Henrik Christensen (College of Computing), Frank Dellaert (College of Computing), Eric Johnson (School of Aerospace Engineering), Ayanna Howard (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering), Steve DeWeerth (Department of Biomedical Engineering), and Harvey Lipkin (School of Mechanical Engineering).

About the Robotics & Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech (RIM@GT)
The Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (RIM@Georgia Tech) leverages the strengths and resources of Georgia Tech in robotics education, research, and leadership by reaching across traditional boundaries to embrace a multidisciplinary approach. The College of Computing, College of Engineering and the Georgia Tech Research Institute play key, complementary roles through Tech's traditional expertise in interactive and intelligent computing, control, and mechanical engineering. Emphasizing personal and everyday robotics as well as the future of automation, faculty involved with RIM@Georgia Tech help students understand and define the future role of robotics in society.

About the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech
The College of Engineering at Georgia Tech is the largest engineering program in the U.S. and ranked 4th among the country's best graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. A respected leader in interdisciplinary research and education, the College of Engineering grants the highest number of engineering degrees in the nation across nine fields of study. For more information about the programs in the College of Engineering, please visit

About the College of Computing at Georgia Tech
The College of Computing at Georgia Tech is a national leader in the creation of real-world computing breakthroughs that drive social and scientific progress. With its graduate program ranked 11th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, the College's unconventional approach to education is defining the new face of computing by expanding the horizons of traditional computer science students through interdisciplinary collaboration and a focus on human centered solutions. For more information about the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, its academic divisions and research centers, please visit

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