U-M Robotics has been formed for innovation, building on the foundation of U-M Engineering and furthering the spirit of “Robotics with Respect.” Michigan Robotics aims to meet undergraduate and graduate intellectual needs by inspiring students from their first day on campus and cultivating equitable opportunities for a diverse world. Our society has a growing and unmet demand for people skilled in robotics. Our objectives are to equip students with the foundational skills and knowledge they need to meet these challenges, affect positive systemic change, and prepare future generations for a highly dynamic innovation ecosystem.

In building the discipline of robotics, our principles organize around the definition of embodied intelligence provided by the National Science Foundation–essentially the idea that robots must sense, reason, act, and work with people to improve quality of life and productivity equitably across society. The study of robotics requires knowledge of how a robotic system sees its surroundings, how and what it can move around, how doing so will affect its surroundings, and how its actions impact the humans with whom it interacts. 

While specific research questions in robotics can become much more technical, at the top-level, they fall within the broad categories of how robots sense, reason, and act–on their own, or while working with or around people. The requirements and learning objectives for our undergraduate and graduate programs are organized around these principles of embodied intelligence. We are confident this learning framework will help students thrive as roboticists and enable them to continuously grow throughout their careers.

Michigan Robotics currently offers an undergraduate major, launched in Fall 2022, and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, which have been flourishing since their creation in Fall 2014. The program combines a rigorous set of core classes, giving students the needed technical foundation, with a wide set of electives, allowing students the flexibility to specialize in different areas within robotics. Our near-term goals include expanding the program to offer a Robotics minor and SUGS program.

The MS and PhD programs share a common set of course requirements. Ph.D. students must additionally complete a set of qualifying exams to become Ph.D. candidates, and then complete a thesis.

The academic mission and programs of Michigan Robotics are instantiated into the following core Robotics technical areas that build up embodied intelligence:

  • Sensing of the environment, external agents such as other robots or humans, and internal body information to infer and perceive the state of the world
  • Reasoning with estimated models of the world to make decisions to accomplish tasks, satisfy goals, and learn from experience and interaction
  • Acting upon its body and environment to produce motion or other outputs that enable the robot to achieve desired effects on the physical world and interact with people
  • Understanding human and social dynamics, both quantitatively and qualitatively, for robots to effectively work with people and evaluate their impact on society

Each of these areas may be considered threads of emphasis for coursework and research study. 

The academic mission and programs of Michigan Robotics continually strive to realize a collaborative and inclusive community of scholars that uplifts the discipline of robotics through advancing and teaching its organizing principles of embodied intelligence.  

The goal of Michigan Robotics is to train students to be independent and socially-conscious  engineers, researchers, and future leaders who practice our values across academia, industry, and the public sector.

Enrollment and Graduation Data

The University Registrar publishes the number of students enrolled annually in this program, and the number of degrees granted each term by this program.