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New Hampshire's First Bachelors Program in Robotics

By Samantha Latos
On October 4, 2018

Plymouth State University has launched New Hampshire’s first Bachelors program in robotics from 2018-2019. It is known as EMTR, which stands for electromechanical technology and robotics. This follows the modern trend of computers that process information and carry out tasks by themselves. Robots have become integral to our daily lives, whether we have noticed or not.

This is a 120-credit four-year program. Electromechanical technology and robotics combines traditional academic learning with hands-on experiences. A full list of degree requirements can be found at The website reads, “It is to connect computer science, electromechanics, and robotics with artistic design and interactive performance.”

“It started this fall,” said Department Chair, Dr. Zhizhang Shen, PhD, “The faculty approved it last November. It was kind of late, so we only have two EMTR majors this fall.”

This program can accommodate a limited amount of students. “The plan is that we should have twelve to fifteen every year,” Dr. Shen said, “This way of learning is not just talking. We need to be able to give each and every one of them a robot or a process to work with. It has a lot to do with engineering.” The new major has a budget, since it requires each student to have their own materials to build robots. The budget is the number of students multiplied by a certain price for the robots. Unfortunately, this means that the program cannot take in as many students as they would like.

Students in this program must be interested in how technology works. This program is under the exploration and discovery cluster. It’s for students who are interested in experimental learning by researching the natural, social, cultural and educational aspects of a subject. The mission is to improve the world. “This is a changing world,” Dr. Shen said, “We have to prepare our students to deal with this changing situation.”

The different branches of science help the robotics process along. “If you think about the computer as a box, computer science tries to make the box usable. Information technology serves to make the box useful,” Dr. Shen said, “Surely you must have bought something from Amazon. You searched for what you wanted, and looked at all of the products, pictures and prices. When you clicked the buttons, your order went up into The computer can make use of this information and take its own actions. Amazon uses 90,000 pickers, robots, to get all of the information of your order.” Popular websites are essentially thousands of robots processing information. Robots are able to get a lot done in seconds.

Robots are not meant to replace workers. Instead, they are meant to help people at the workplace. “There is a social aspect to robots,” he said, “They are meant to make things easier. However, gradually, robots probably will replace some of the workers. That’s a big controversy.” 

The future certainly involves robots. STEM, standing for science, technology, engineering and math, pervades the world around us. Science is everywhere we look. “USNH once made a commitment to the state,” Dr. Shen said, “By the year 2025, we will actually double the STEM. This is all a part of that.”

This major will open the door to technologically modern careers for students. The website reads, “Graduates of the electromechanical technology and robotics program will be qualified for in-demand jobs such as robot software engineer, robot systems engineer, and other highly-rewarding positions.” 

Many people interested in robotics will be at the upcoming Governor’s Cup. “It is a very good recruitment opportunity,” Dr. Shen said, “Admission officers can go out, spread the news, and bring in the people.” Hopefully some students will be drawn to PSU because of this new major that blends robotics with engineering.

            For more information on this major, visit To contact the Department Chair, email zshen@plymouth.eduor call 603-535-2534. To learn more about the Governor’s Cup, visit

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