A Message to Prospective Students

Thank you for taking the time to peruse the pages of the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics and my web pages. I am pleased that you are interested in my research and the activities of my group here at UMass. Due to the huge connectivity we enjoy on the web and the large interest in the LPR (due to the incredible creativity of many students like you) I receive an overwhelming number of inquiries from prospective students who want to get involved. Unfortunately, there are too many messages for me to respond personally to each one, so please accept this reply as a response to my very limited bandwidth.

Rod Grupen

| Graduate | Undergraduate | High School/K-12 | Postdoctoral |

Prospective Graduate Students

Working with exceptional graduate students is the highlight of my job here at UMass. The relationship is based on: (1) the negotiation of an appealing fundamental research question; (2) the mastery of a body of background literature; (3) the development of a strong technical background that supports independent and innovative research; (4) strong experimental tools and methods of empirical analysis; (5) and the development of communication skills that support the presentation and publication of research results. Success depends on a clear emphasis on research and preparation for leadership in an international community of researchers and educators. If you find these objectives are consistent with your goals and you find the LPR's approach to robotics compelling, then you should apply to UMass.

I am primarily interested in working with students that have are interested in earning a Ph.D. Each January, we consider up to 800 applications for graduate study in our department for approximately 30 graduate students. About 30 of the 800 mention a desire to study in the LPR and we will accept between 1 and 3 new roboticists each year depending on new grant activity and slots left open by graduating PhD students. I look for students that write thoughtful personal statements that speak to the agenda of the LPR, that have interesting backgrounds and experiences, that receive recommendations from trusted colleagues whose work I know, that have demonstrated a mature approach to school, with good grades (and acceptable GRE). US citizens should apply for outside fellowships (NSF, NDSEG, NASA). This is one of the best approaches to graduate study because it provides significantly more control to you in terms of your research topic and agenda. Previous research experiences are very attractive and publications are impressive if you have them. Most of all, I look for students who are self motivated and willing to make mistakes often in search of a "diamond in the rough."

I know your search for the right graduate program and Laboratory affiliation is extremely important. I hope this page helps you to make the right decision about whether UMass is right for you.

Prospective Undergraduate Researchers

Undergraduate research opportunities typically revolve around capstone engineering projects, Research Experiences for Undergraduate ( REU ) program participants (summer), or honors projects. All participants are elite students and come prepared for an immersive and aggressive research experience. Projects are chosen that are critical pieces of on-going sponsored grants and undergraduates participate in the full life of the lab, including weekly lab meetings and presentations to our robotics journal club.

Prospective High School Researchers

Sometimes extremely well motivated high school juniors or seniors ask for a summer project in the lab. I usually agree to host a single candidate for the summer if the right person comes along. Some of these projects have been quite fruitful and some of our alumni have gone onto great things! The position is never funded and HS interns are typically mentored by a graduate student in my lab who has volunteered to direct a project that may be related to their research.

Prospective Postdoctoral Fellows of the LPR

Postdoctoral fellows in my laboratory are hired for specific grant funded positions. There are no such positions available in the LPR unless there is a current posting on my web page or the LPR web page.

These positions call for specific technical background and expertise that will be outlined in the posting. In general, duties include mentoring graduate students, some project management, and project related research. Often, arrangements are made so that postdoctoral fellows can launch an independent research program as well if that is appropriate. Positions generally last from between 1 and 3 years.