Robots have long captured the imagination of people. Some institutions offer research avenues in this specialised area.
Is a bachelor's or master's in computer science all about landing a job as software engineer, developer, programmer, systems engineers and other allied careers? Not really. If the realm of computing technology is changing the way we work and play, then Informatics is changing the way we think. Today, computer science is about managing information.
Giving a peek into some of the emerging career opportunities in Informatics was Sethu Vijayakumar, Director, Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.
He was recently in Chennai to enlighten students on the topic ‘Machine Learning for Robotics and Sensorimotor Control' at Kurukshetra 2010 – the Techno-Management Festival of the College of Engineering, Guindy. Plus, offer a glimpse of University of Edinburgh and its offers for students keen on taking up Informatics.
What is informatics? “It is the intelligent processing of information, which is the future,” says Mr. Vijayakumar, who holds the Microsoft/ Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research fellowship in learning about robotics.
He says that as one is seeing an explosion of information, the challenge next is how innovative techniques can be applied to manage information.
According to www.ipab.informatics.ed.ac.uk, one of the main challenges today is to link “in theory and in practice, computational perception, representation, transformation and generation processes to external worlds.” Examples include biometric robotics, computer-based visual perception and dynamic control of the interaction of robotic systems with the environment or each other.
If your fundamentals in mathematics, physics and chemistry are strong, then informatics has a promising career for you. “It is about training your mind to analyse problems, you need to think out-of-the-box and above all it is about innovating in the domain of your interest,” says the professor who did his Ph.D in Computer Science and Engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Where to study
While Informatics is an evolving field, Mr. Vijayakumar says many institutes offer it as inter-disciplinary studies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University are among the premier institutions offering the course, he says. At University of Edinburgh, Informatics is offered both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, and the School has one of the largest number of faculty members in the country. There are about 800 students in the School of Informatics at the undergraduate and master's level, besides Ph.D scholars. Funding is very selective. “However, if one can demonstrate a passion for the subject by showing what one can do then they are winning points,” he says, adding that it could even be a childhood interest which can stem further.
According to the professor, there are many opportunities emerging for those who show the right aptitude and passion. Logistic companies, health care, as an innovator or computer scientist, the avenues are many.
Keywords: Computer science, robotics, informatics, Sethu Vijayakumar, Director, Institute of Perception, Action and Behaviour, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Kurukshetra, Techno-Management Festival, College of Engineering, Guindy