I'm a contract industrial process designer/builder. Most of the machines I build are furnaces of one type or another. I've been in the field for 17 years. I've been in business for myself since '08. I got my BSME from The Ohio State University in '93.
Unlike industrial robots, which suffered a slight overall slump in 2012, service robots continue to be increasingly in demand. The majority are used for defense, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and agriculture, such as milking robots.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.