A Johns Hopkins University program has launched one of the only online resources in America where you can get a master’s degree in robotics and autonomous systems, and an engineer at the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory helped to develop its curriculum.

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals, a collaboration between the Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, and the university’s Whiting School of Engineering, has launched the program, offered within WSE’s Engineering for Professionals program.

“We’re looking to develop the next cadre of roboticists who can develop robots to ‘think’ for themselves,” said program co-chair David Silberberg, an artificial intelligence and machine learning expert at APL who also chairs the Whiting School’s Information Systems Engineering program and serves as research director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy. “Hopefully they’ll be inspired by the principles and ethics they learn in the program to build robots that can act responsibly in society.”

In partnership with co-chair Louis Whitcomb, professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the full-time residential Robotics master’s program at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus, Silberberg developed a curriculum that focuses on three topics: the technology, the human-computer interface and the ethics of autonomous systems.

Additionally, Silberberg and Whitcomb integrated coursework in artificial intelligence and machine learning into the program, giving students the opportunity to learn how to design robots and systems that operate on a continuum from human remote control to full autonomy.

Students can choose from five focus areas. They will also have the opportunity to work with academic advisers (for the initial semesters, Silberberg and Whitcomb themselves will advise students) to tailor the program to their specific interests, such as undersea robotics.

According to a 2020 Business Wire report, the robotics industry is expected to grow by 13.5% by 2025. Today, students can choose from approximately 100 courses to fulfill the 10-course degree requirement; Silberberg and Whitcomb eventually plan to draw on the expertise of APL and the Whiting School to enhance the program with new course offerings.

Enrollment is open for the spring 2023 session, which begins Jan. 23.