The potential problems with hobbyism

Hi all, I see the enormous potential for robotics in society, but I also see that hobbyist robotics can sometimes work against that goal. I’ve followed industry robotics for a long time, and I see some massive differences between the goals to improve robotic utilization and bring new talent into industry and using hobbyist robotics as an education tool.

Although using tools like Arduino and building a simple project can be a great first step to learn about electronics and microcontrollers, it’s only really a first step and many hobbyists never go beyond that. I also see people on here ask about getting into the industry, and this is one of the most common things people suggest is starting an Arduino or Raspberry Pi project. I honestly don’t think a lot of employers care about these projects and would rather see some experience or a project specific to their needs and whatever systems they use. ROS or a similar software framework would probably be more useful for someone wanting to break into the Industry to learn rather than Arduino. ROS can even be used to learn the hardware side as well as, if not better than Arduino. If you’re only wanting to do robotics as a hobby and build a simple robot, than Arduino works just fine. But if you want to work in the industry at some point, I think ROS is a much better starting point.

Although Arduino can be a good starting point in some circumstances, a plateau will be reached if you never move beyond that. ROS can be used to expand skills, but breaking into the industry also requires some knowledge and experience specific to the systems employers use, while of course also having a strong background in control theory, electronics, programming, etc.

This brings me to my main point. We should be steering individuals who want to have a career in robotics to pursue career goals rather than hobbyist goals that may lead to a dead end. In my view, robotics is so much more than hobbyist projects to do in our spare time. Robots are going to play an enormous role in the future economy. We’re going to rely on them and live amongst them in our everyday lives. There’s some people in this sub who have done some incredibly cool and creative things with hobbyist robots, but yet have no idea what industry robots are capable of. My interest in robots deals more with how they effect industry and their impact on the economy and society. Although I’m not as interested in the hobbyist aspect, I think hobbyists should learn as much as they can from industry to inspire projects.

Robotics is a very easy field to get distracted in. And for the younger members, it’s important to know if you’re pursuing robotics more as a career or a hobby, and we as a community should make sure we’re giving advice that best fits their needs rather than our own.

submitted by /u/oldjar07
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