Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Use educational affordances of robotics to create CS-STEM opportunities for all learners

Workforce Development through the SMART Robotics Technician Program

Creating avenues for access and supporting students for success

The rapidly growing number of robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation companies signals a crucial need for skilled technicians to build, maintain, service, and customize robotic and autonomous systems. Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy’s (CMRA) Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics Training (SMART) program provides opportunity to aspiring technicians, lowers the financial barrier to course material, and bridges the gap between skilled talent and environmental requirements.

SMART is informed by real world, relevant applications, offering credentials in foundational courses designed to introduce, prepare, and equip the robotics technicians of tomorrow. After observing multiple industry operations and interviewing hiring managers, CMRA identified five core areas of requirements for robotics technicians entering the workforce. The stackable certifications are: Robotics Integration, Electrical Foundations, Mechanical Foundations, Software Foundations, and Fabrication Foundations. CMRA continually updates course material to improve alignment with the current state of operations on the ground and in the field. As requirements in the robotics, advanced manufacturing, and automation fields change, training will adapt and evolve to adequately prepare future technicians.

CMRA and its partners are intentional in making the program affordable and appropriate to facilitate an initial talent pipeline of high school students interested in a technical career in these spaces. Partnership with local colleges like Community College of Allegheny County, Westmoreland County Community College, and Pittsburgh Technical College provides further incentive for new audiences to pursue training in the emerging robotics technician field. Graduates of the SMART program are able to enter community college's accelerated fast-track training with credits waived because of the alignment of curriculum. Additionally, they will save thousands of tuition dollars in reduced cost of attendance.

Why the SMART program?

  • Teaches the KSA needed of Robotics Technicians in the industry
  • Low-barrier to implementation by utilizing relatively low-costing materials
  • Utilizes CMRA's Learning Management System for Tracking Progress
  • Earn credits towards participating Community Colleges
  • Registered PA Pre-Apprenticeship Program


The SMART Robotics Technician Curriculum is the result of a research project funded by the ARM Institute, called the Smart Manufacturing and Advanced Robotics Training (SMART) Project. SMART consists of five micro-certification courses that focus on the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (KSA) that are needed for Robotics Technicians in the Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics industry. The KSA was identified through research which involved interviewing and observing Robotics Technicians in the industry to ask questions like:

  1. What skills do you need?
  2. What tools do you use?
  3. What does your day-to-day look like?
  4. What kind of teammate would you like to have working alongside you?

Learn More About the Research Behind SMART

How to Get Started

1) Preview the Curriculum

The SMART curriculum includes an estimated 200 hours of hands-on learning activities. Each micro-certification course contains units that describe real-world application examples to provide context to the student, deliver step-by-step direct instruction to construct hands-on artifacts, and end with a project to apply their newly learned knowledge and skills.

Learn More About The SMART Curriculum

2) Professional Development: Get trained to train your students

Educators that go through CMRA's training are eligible to offer Micro-Certifications for students. During the training, participants go through the material as if they are students in order to fully understand the content (and go through the same troubleshooting methods that they do), and also learn the pedagogy behind the course so that they feel confident in running the courses. The following Teacher Training offerings (and their formats) are available for SMART courses:

  1. Electrical Foundations [Anytime Online Training format]
  2. Mechanical Foundations (with V5) - [Anytime Online Training format]
  3. Software Foundations/Robotics Integration (Combined) - [Live Online Training format]
  4. Fabrication Foundations (with Hand Tools) - [Anytime Online Training format]
 3) Utilize our Learning Management System

All of our courses are delivered through the CS-STEM Network ( We have tutorials to walk you through how to use the system from Generating Student accounts, how to add activities, create Groups, etc. 

Getting Started with CS2N

4) Certify Students

Once you have completed the training for the particular courses, you are eligible to offer student certifications. 

Find out more about our Certifications