student schematic drawing of a robot design

Robotics & Automation Certificate

Delve into the innovative realm of robotics and automation as we work to integrate robots effectively and safely into our world.

Robotics is an exciting and rapidly expanding field at the crossroads of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science. With the help of architects and designers, these intelligent machines have learned to infer, reason and act in the real world.

Using large amounts of data, researchers in the field have made it possible for robots to learn from their experiences and improve their performance.

To safely and effectively integrate intelligent machines into our environment, robots must be taught to adapt and respond to unpredictable situations, as well as interact collaboratively with each other and humans.

These systems will soon be able to replace humans in dangerous environments and tedious jobs, boost their situational awareness, and assist them in difficult or repetitive tasks — further enhancing human capabilities.

Certificate Features

  • Primary focus on upper-class courses
  • Preparation to enter graduate programs at Duke
  • Multidisciplinary course offerings and tracks to choose from
  • Flexibility to explore subjects related to Robotics

Course Requirements

Successful completion of seven (7) courses will lead to a Certificate in Robotics & Automation:

  1. Two (2) required Robotics Track courses
  2. Three (3) technical courses
    • One (1) must be in Controls and Dynamics
    • One (1) must be in Machine Learning
    • One (1) in either Controls and Dynamics, Machine Learning, or Breadth  
  3. One (1) ethics course (found in the Breadth Track)
  4. One (1) humanities/social science course 


Robotics Track

2 required Courses

  • ECE 383/ME 442 Introduction to Robotics (Fall only)
  • ME 555 Robot Studio (Spring only)
Controls and Dynamics Track

Select at least one (1) course

  • ME 344L/ECE 382L Linear Control Systems
  • EGR 244 Dynamics
  • PHYSICS 361 Intermediate Mechanics
  • ME 555 Model Predictive Control
Machine Learning Track

Select at least one (1) course

  • ME 555 Data Driven Dynamical Systems and Control
  • ME 555 Robot Learning (Prerequisite for undergraduates: undergraduate Intro to Robotics)
  • ECE 580 Introduction to Machine Learning
  • BME 548L Machine Learning and Imaging
  • CS 371 Elements of Machine Learning
Breadth Track

ethics is required, Select one (1) additional course

  • ME 555 Ethics of Case Studies in Robotics and Automation (required)
  • ME 555 Medical Robotics and Surgical Technologies
  • CS 527 Computer Vision
  • ECE 461/ME 555 Ocean Engineering
  • ECE 496/590/ME 555 Rainforest Engineering
  • ECE 588 Image and Video Processing: from Mars to Hollywood with a Stop at
    the Hospital
  • ME 491/ECE 493- Independent Project (must be robotics related; requires
    detailed semester plan and prior approval)


Note 1: Two of the technical courses can be required courses in home department

Note 2: Other courses in areas related to Robotics are also permissible subject to approval of the Robotics and Automation Certificate Program Coordinator. New courses may also be created.

Humanities or Social Science

One course in one of the following areas: History (if applicable to the role of technology and science); Public Policy (if applicable to the use and impact of technology); Economics. Courses are to be approved by the certificate coordinator; other course options will be considered on an individual basis with consideration given to their relevance to the field.

Example Recommendations:

  • CompSci 190 (cross GSF 242): Race, Gender, Class, and Computing
  • ComSci112S (cross GSF 2655)- Intro to Digital Feminism
  • Hist 106 - Science and the Modern World
  • Econ 112FS - Globalization/Corporate Citizenship
  • PubPol 199FS - Science Law and Policy
  • PubPol 211 - Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community (Spring)
  • I&E 252 – Learning to Fail (Spring)
  • I&E 290 – Designing Ethical Tech (Spring)


Siobhan Rigby Oca


Siobhan Oca

Assistant Director of Master program in Robotics and Autonomy