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Robotics and Mechatronics Major

Robotics Major

This major fuses together skills including controls, automation, coding, electrical engineering, and more. From assistive medical devices to robots used in space, consumer electronics to virtual reality, graduates of this program will find multiple paths available after they finish their degree.

TREC lab

Program Outcomes:

We expect our students to have the following skills, knowledge, and behaviors by the time of their graduation. We want our students to obtain:

  • An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • An ability to apply the engineering design process to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration for public health and safety, and global, cultural, social, environmental, economic, and other factors as appropriate to the discipline.
  • An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  • An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  • An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  • An ability to recognize the ongoing need to acquire new knowledge, to choose appropriate learning strategies, and to apply this knowledge.
  • An ability to function effectively as a member or leader of a team that establishes goals, plans tasks, meets deadlines, and creates a collaborative and inclusive environment.


The Robotics and Mechatronics major differs from the general Mechanical Engineering degree in the Junior 2nd semester. Two courses are required for the RMBT major that are not required for general ME students:

  • ECE 3254- Industrial Electronics:  ***Spring Only***
    Fundamentals of electronics, including basic device principles. Include digital, operational amplifier, and analog analysis for industrial applications and magnetic circuits. For students in the Mechanical Engineering program or by permission of the ECE Department. Pre: 2054. (3H,3C)
  • CS 1044- Introduction to Programming in C:
    Fundamental concepts underlying software solutions of many problems. Structured data, statement sequencing, logic control, input/output, and functions. The course will be taught using a structured approach to programming. Partially duplicates 1344. (3H,3C)
    • Alternate course which can replace CS 1044 for RBMT majors:  CS 2505 (Intro Computer Organization, if taken as part of a CS minor)

Some students may find that they can take these two courses earlier than Junior 2nd semester. That is ok as long as the student is able to distribute their course load in a manageable way. These courses must be taken before senior year as they are pre-reqs for required fall classes. CS 1044 may be taken at VT or a community college very easily.

Senior year courses that differ from the general ME degree:

  • RMBT students are not required to take ME 4124 (CAD of Thermal Fluids)
  • ME 4524 Robotics and Automation:   ***Fall only***
    Automation, robot technology, kinematics, dynamics, trajectory planning, and control of two-dimensional and spatial robots; robot programming; design and simulation of robotic devices. Pre: 2004, 3524, 3534. Co: 4584. (3H,3C)
  • ME 4744 Mechatronics: Theory and Application:   ***Fall only***
    Electromechanical design and control applications. Theory, modeling, simulation, analysis, design and building of electronic interfaces and controllers; sensors and actuators; software development, micro-controller technology, and applications. Design Lab/Studio. Pre: 3534, ECE 3254, CS 1044. (3H,2L,4C)
  • ME 4584 Robotics Lab:   ***Fall only***
    Develop, compile, and test algorithms for serial and mobile robots. Robot forward and inverse kinematics, task planning, velocity kinematics, force rendering, control, haptics, mapping and localization, computer vision and path planning. Co: ME 4524 or ECE 4704 (3L,1C)
  • ME 4734 Robotics and Mechatronics Seminar:   ***Fall only***
    Topics in robotics and mechatronics. Invited lectures from industry, government organizations and universities. Recent research results, developments and challenges, providing a global and social context for the topics. Pre: 3534, ECE 3254. (1H,1C)
Three credits of technical electives are required for the degree and are typically completed in the senior year. Students should be sure to pay attention to when courses are taught and plan accordingly. It is not guaranteed that a course will be taught in the student’s senior year so it is also important to have back-up course selections. 
  • ME3604: Kinematics and Dynamics of Machinery
    Kinematic analysis and design of cams, gears, and linkages, velocity, acceleration and force analysis, kinematic synthesis, balancing, kinematic and force analysis by complex numbers, computer-aided analysis, and synthesis of linkages. Pre: ESM 2304. (3H,3C)
  • ME 4034: Bio-Inspired Technology
    Introduction to engineering solutions inspired by biological systems. Overview over the approach of bio-inspired technology and the state of the art. Exploration of the relationship between engineered and natural biological systems. Explanation of concepts of biological systems, such as evolutionary optimization, sensing, actuation, control, system integration, assembly and materials in engineering terms. Practice of interdisciplinary analysis skills in technical report writing projects where man-made and biological systems are evaluated for parallels to engineering and their technological potential. Pre: (PHYS 2205, PHYS 2206) or (PHYS 2305, PHYS 2306). (3H,3C)
  • ME4184: Drone Tech Flight Ops  Basic aviation science, skills training in uncrewed flight operations, and knowledge of the regulatory environment that governs drone flight. Aerodynamics, propulsion, aircraft performance, sensing and control, meteorology, the Federal Aviation Regulations, safety and risk management. Flight management tools for conducting preflight inspections and approving flight missions. Pre: Students in Mechanical Engineering will be given preference, other programs and students eligible with permission.  (Undergrads must have completed 75 credits.)
  • ME4564: Vehicle Control
    Overview of vehicle control systems and control algorithms for anti-lock braking, stability, road holding, lane departure, traction control, and tire pressure monitoring. Advanced driver assist systems and intelligent tire technology. Hands-on experience with hardware-in-the- loop systems. Mathematical modeling and simulation of vehicle control.  Pre: ME3524, ME3534 (3H, 3C)
  • ME4624: Finite Element Practice in Mech Design
    Application of the finite element method to stress analysis problems in mechanical design. Modeling techniques, proper use of existing computer programs, interpreting of results, application to design modification. Pre: 3624. (3H,3C)
  • ME 4634: Intro to CAD/CAM
    Participants will study the computer-aided design and manufacturing of mechanical systems. A mechanical system will be designed including preliminary design, analysis, detail design, numerical control programming, and documentation. Applications programs will be written and interfaced to the CAD/CAM database. All assignments will be carried out on a CAD/CAM system. Pre: 3024. (2H,3L,3C)
  • ME 4644 Rapid Prototyping
    Participants will study topics fundamental to rapid prototyping and automated fabrication, including the generation of suitable CAD models, current rapid prototyping fabrication technologies, their underlying material science, the use of secondary processing, and the impact of these technologies on society. The rapid prototyping process will be illustrated by the actual design and fabrication of a part. Programming skills required. Pre: 3024. (3H,3C)
  • ME 4674: Materials Selection in Mech Design
    Systematic approach to materials selection accounting for market need, functional requirements, shape, safety, cost and environmental issues. Overview of design process, material property charts, material indices, selection of materials with multiple constraints and/or conflicting objectives, shape factors, design considerations in hybrid materials, environmental issues as well as several case studies. Pre: ESM 2204, MSE 2034. Co: 3624. (3H,3C)
  • ME 4754:  Mechatronics: Advanced Topics and Applications 
    Electromechanical design and control applications. Design and building of electronic interfaces and controllers including sensors, actuators, signal acquisition, filtering, and conditioning for applications. Systems integration with wireless communication; image processing; embedded programs for data acquisition and feedback control applications. Pre: 4744. (3H,3C)
  • ME4824:  Intro Human-Robot Interaction
    Formalizing interaction between robots and humans. Developing learning and control algorithms that enable robots to seamlessly and intelligently collaborate with humans. Mathematical approaches to human-robot interaction, learning from demonstration, Bayesian inference, intent detection, safe and optimal control, assistive autonomy, and user study design. Review and present existing literature. Pre: ME4524 (3H, 3C)
  • ME 4864: Micro/Nano-Robotics
    Overview of Micro/Nano-robotic systems. Physics of reduced length scales (scaling effects in the physical parameters, surface forces, contact mechanics, and Micro/Nano-scale dynamical phenomena), Basics of Micro/Nano-manufacturing, microfabrication and soft lithography, Biomimetic design strategies for mobile micro-robots, Principle of transduction, material properties and characteristics of Micro/Nano-actuators (piezoelectric, shape-memory alloy, and a variety of MEMS and polymer actuators), Control requirements and challenges of Micro/Nano-actuators, Micro/Nano sensors for mobile microrobotic applications, Micro/Nano-manipulation (scanning probe microscopy, operation principles, designing experiments for nanoscale mechanical characterization of desired samples). Pre: (MATH 2214 or MATH 2214H or MATH 2406H), ME 3414, ME 3524, ESM 2204. (3H,3C)
  • ME4974:  Independent study
    Must be directly related to Robotics and Mechatronics major to count as a major elective.  Contact academic advisor for more information. Requires minimum 2.50 overall and 2.0 in-major cumulative grade point averages to enroll.
  • ME 3984/4984 Special Studies Courses:
    Must be directly related to Robotics or Mechatronics to count as a major elective.  Contact academic advisor for more information. These temporary course numbers are assigned to new courses being taught before they have been assigned a permanent course number.  Past Special Studies courses approved for RBMT major elective credit include ME3984, SS: Tech Commercialization and ME4984 (Spring 2022), SS: Drone Tech and Flight One (Spring 2022), ME4984: Drone Tech and Ops (Spring 2023), ME4984: Design Process (Spring 2022), ME4984: Soft Robotics (Spring, 2024)
  • ME4994:  Undergraduate research
    Must be directly related to Robotics and Mechatronics major to count as a major elective.  Contact academic advisor for more information. Requires minimum 2.50 overall and 2.0 in-major cumulative grade point averages to enroll.

RMBT students must participate in a year-long senior design project approved for the RMBT major. Senior design teams are assigned during the first week of classes of the student’s senior year.

Most students complete their BSME degree in 4 years.  For students wishing to include one or two semesters off from school to get paid engineering work experience, we have developed co-op plan with either 8 or 9 semesters of classes (see links below).  

For students who are participating in one of Virginia Tech's ROTC programs or who wish to spread out their courses to 10 semesters, see the "Military 5-year Plan" link below.

Please contact your academic advisor if you are off schedule and would like to see how one of these plans could be motified based on the courses you have already completed.

Major FAQs

The curriculum requirements for the degrees are the same until junior 2nd semester. At that point, RMBT students begin taking courses that specialize in the robotics and mechatronics industry. Students in the RMBT major have priority when adding RMBT courses. It is possible that a general ME students may not be able to take robotics and mechatronics course work if they do not major in RMBT.

We recommend that students who major in RMBT are sure that they want to pursue a job in the robotics and mechatronics industry. Pertinent course work mixed with work experience in robotics and mechatronics related jobs are the two most important factors for a student pursuing a career in the industry. RMBT is still a relatively broad field so it’s most important that students have an interest in robotics but they should still explore career options to determine what kind of work they want to do upon graduation. If you are not sure what kind of career you want to pursue with an RMBT degree, please speak with an ME Advisor and/or a Career and Professional Development Advisor for career exploration.

CRA (Controls Robotics and Automation) studies circuits design whereas RMBT studies structural design. We focus on creating mechanical parts and CRA is focused on electrical programming. If you have questions about the CRA major, you should contact an Advisor ( in the ECE department. They can provide more detail about their major requirements which may help you decide between RMBT and CRA. You may also want to speak with an ME Advisor about the RMBT major.

Yes, you can. However, you may need to delay graduation in order to fit in all of the requirements for the two degrees. You will need to participate in a senior design project that meets requirements for both majors which means your options may be limited.

A student must complete 30 credits beyond the primary major (159 credits total) to receive a second diploma.  If you are short on credits, you will receive a diploma for your primary major and a certificate for your second major.

If you are interested in double majoring, you should set up a meeting with your ME Advisor to discuss your course plan.

Yes, to determine which graduate-level courses will satisfy the graduation requirements for the undergradaute RMBT major and double count towards your graduate degree, please contact your ME Undergraduate advisor.