Robotics & ROI

What happens when you mix business students with little to no hands-on engineering experience in a robotics-forward course?

Mar 20 2024 | By Jane Nisselson

Credit: Jane Nisselson/Columbia Engineering

The Fundamental Design Tools course turns business students on to state-of-the art robotics.

In its first year, the dual MBA/Executive MS program in business and engineering prepares students to step into leadership roles that require both a rigorous technical background and competence in core business skills. “These days, tech and business are completely aligned,” says Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy, “and you can’t have one without the other.” 

In the program’s Fundamental Design Tools course taught by Yesilevskiy, lecturer in mechanical engineering, students develop state of the art skills in robotics, coding, and design. This inaugural MBA/MS cohort shares a mix of backgrounds: from strategy consulting and data science to economics and finance.

In one semester, they develop robotic arms, which they then train with machine learning algorithms to recognize and sort trash. The course culminates in a timed competition among student teams, determining whose customized system can accurately automate the sorting of trash the fastest.

We spend the afternoon with Yesilevskiy and the class for an immersive lab experience.

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