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I put Complex adaptive systems at Chalmers at the top of my list because of the wide variety of courses that will give me a unique perspective in my future career. ​

​Why I chose Complex adaptive systems to study robotics

Complex adaptive systems is a major and master's programme I had never heard of, so why did I quit my job to study it? 🤔
In my email to my company, PHYTEC,  announcing my departure, I explained that I will be leaving to pursue my dream to become... a “robot master”! In high school and college, I had been part of robotics clubs and internships. I was even fortunate enough to work on some robotic demos at my job, too. However, I ended up studying the embedded systems flavour of electrical engineering as an undergrad, which translated to mostly debugging single board computers as my day-to-day work. Working from home for a year during the pandemic, I realized that I wanted to shift into a career that aligned more with my interests. And thus, I decided to learn more about how robots learn and make decisions! (For context, PHYTEC is essentially a small, yet global engineering firm that builds custom single board computers and IoT hardware and is a great place to work at! I just wanted to build more robots.)
Chalmers has several programmes pertinent to robotics, including a couple of very similar programmes related to artificial intelligence. Examples include Systems, control and mechatronics, Data science and AI and, my programme, Complex adaptive systems​. So why did I choose a programme that I have never heard of before? To be honest, one of the main reasons is because the prerequisites were more general than those for the other programmes. I had never taken a controls, data structures, or algorithms class, so to even apply to these other programmes, I would have had to take them at my home university and postpone applications for another year. Complex adaptive systems is well suited for most STEM students wanting to make a pivot into studying complex data science topics, such as AI, as the prerequisites are just math (with some specifics) and basic programming.
An added benefit of my programme is that there is a lot of freedom in how you can design your studies. After taking the first few compulsory courses, you can design your course plan to follow your interests and career goals to a fairly high degree. Students in this programme have backgrounds ranging from physics to all kinds of engineering. Similarly, students can study Complex adaptive systems for anything from modelling in physics to bioinformatics, machine learning, and of course, robotics! Even within these self-designated tracks, you can tailor your schedule to what exactly you want within that field you would like to specialize in.[VS3]  For example, a student studying robotics could focus particularly on image classification and take classes such as Spatial statistics and Image analysis or Image processing, alongside the normal robotics courses.
This variety within the programme isn’t just great for being able to customize your classes to your interests. It allows you the opportunity to explore other topics, as well! Even within one of the compulsory courses, Stochastic optimization algorithms, you’re exposed to how biology can be used as an inspiration for optimization techniques, such as copying the strategy ants use to find the shortest path. We also cover all of the applications these techniques can be used for, which include everything from stock market predictions (still not to be used in real-life… :P) to training robots to walk! And when selecting your courses, you are encouraged to choose classes that sound interesting to you. By being exposed to a wider scope of topics and applications, you have even more ways to tune your resume when it comes time to interview with companies.
When it comes to studying robotics, there are countless paths. Some universities even offer entirely robotics master’s programmes. However, I put Complex adaptive systems at Chalmers at the top of my list because of the wide variety of courses that will give me a unique perspective in my future career. My dream is to work on autonomous robots whose mission is to travel to faraway worlds and help expand our knowledge of our universe. This field of robotics is very broad and can look like anything from working on rovers collecting soil samples for signs of life to designing drones to fly in an extremely thin atmosphere. Especially after reading the course descriptions for Intelligent agents, Humanoid robotics, and Autonomous robots, I knew this programme at Chalmers was the one for me. Now that I’m here, I couldn’t be happier!

Author: Jamie

Page manager Published: Tue 25 Jan 2022.