Robotics

Table of contents

Description

The Robotics program at Oregon State University is a multi-disciplinary research group in the College of Engineering, with faculty members spanning all areas of robotics from mechanical engineering and controls to machine learning and artificial intelligence. Faculty and students from the schools of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science collaborate on research in a variety of areas of robotics, including legged locomotion, power systems, cyber security, environmental monitoring, human-robot interaction, multi-robot systems, agriculture, and software architectures for robotics. Robotics is part of the Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute, which spans the university and includes faculty from a variety of disciplines, including civil engineering, oceanographic studies, agriculture, education, psychology, and forestry.

We offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the graduate level as well as minors at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Currently, there are over 80 graduate students in Robotics mentored by our 46 core faculty members, with an additional 23 affiliate and external faculty across the university. Research funding comes from a wide range of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, US Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, NASA, and industry partners.

Our focus is on the full impact of robotic systems deployed in the real world. This includes socio-economic impact, ethics, law and policy, and how to integrate robotics into society with minimum disruption and maximum benefit.
 

    Undergraduate Information

    The undergraduate minor in robotics is flexible and works well with a number of different majors in Engineering and Science. The current approved course list can be found here. Some students combine their Robotics Minor with the Accelerated Master's Program (AMP) to earn graduate credits in their Junior and Senior year.

    Graduate Information

    The robotics graduate program at Oregon State spans departments in the College of Engineering, with core faculty from mechanical engineering, computer science, and electrical and computer engineering. Affiliations and collaborations across the university include oceanography, biomechanics, art, forestry, agriculture, education, civil, and psychology.  

    Students may earn Ph.D. or M.S. degrees in robotics with an option to add an appropriate double major, such as mechanics, artificial intelligence, or computer science. Our courses cover core areas of robotics (actuation, locomotion, manipulation, dynamics, control, sensing, artificial intelligence, human-robot interaction, mobile robotics) as well as ethics and societal impacts. We have a vibrant seminar series the brings in industry and academic roboticists from around the world. Our list of required courses is deliberately small, allowing our students to design a program of study that matches their research needs, and can include courses from disparate fields such as materials and psychology.

    The robotics research groups are housed in Graf Hall, a two-story 18,000 square foot highbay space for use as a shared laboratory, with associated small laboratories and offices for student use immediately adjacent.  This space provides a strong environment for collaboration and interaction among robotics graduate students and faculty.  All robotics faculty are housed in offices in the building. Recent renovations have added a conference room, lounge, fabrication lab, human-studies lab, and other common areas. This space is consistently active with rolling, flying, and walking robots.

    Additional information on the M.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements, how to write a successful application, general information on the application process, and Frequently Asked Questions about applications and funding (FAQ).

    A Robotics M.S. program of study comprises a minimum of 45 credits, with the following options:  

    • M.S. thesis option: 12 credits of Thesis (ROB 503) and at least 30 credits of coursework. The balance may constitute credits from the following sources: research (ROB 501), reading and conference (ROB 505), seminar (ROB 507), or additional coursework. Of the coursework credits, 16 must come from approved core courses (see below). Students are required to submit a formal Program of Study (POS) form prior to completing 18 credits of coursework. 

      After completing all required coursework and thesis credits, and submitting the pretext pages of their thesis to the Graduate School, students must schedule their final oral examination through the Graduate School using their Exam Scheduling Form.  The thesis must be distributed to all committee members (including the Graduate Council Representative) at least two weeks prior to the examination.
    • M.S. project option: 6 credits of Projects (ROB 506) and 36 credits of coursework. The balance may constitute credits from the following sources: research (ROB 501), reading and conference (ROB 505), seminar (ROB 507), or additional coursework. Of the coursework credits, 16 must come from approved core courses (see below). Students are required to submit a formal Program of Study (POS) form prior to completing 18 credits of coursework.

      After completing all required coursework and project credits, and submitting their project report to their committee, students must schedule their final oral examination with their graduate committee. Copies of the project report must be distributed to all committee members at least one week prior to the examination. 

    At least 50 percent of the credits on a student's POS must represent stand-alone graduate courses (500 level or above). The remaining credits may include the 5XX component of 400/500-level courses.

    Robotics Core Courses

    The intent of the Robotics core is to ensure each program of study both specializes in robotics, and contains sufficient breadth. To that end, the four-course core comprises one introductory course, one hands-on robotics course, one autonomy course, and one fundamental control/dynamics course:  
    1.         ROB 514 : Introduction to Robotics
    2.         ROB 521 : Research Robotics
    3.         ROB 537 : Learning-Based Control -OR-  ROB 534 : Sequential Decision Making in Robotics
    4.         ME 531 : Linear Multivariate Control Systems I -OR-  ROB 545 : Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control
      

    Graduate learning outcomes for Robotics M.S. program

    Outcome 1: Scholarship
    The student will be able to conduct research or produce some other form of creative work.

    Outcome 2: Mastery of Subject Material
    The student will be able to demonstrate mastery of subject materials.

    Outcome 3: Ethical Conduct
    Students will be able to conduct scholarly or professional activities in an ethical manner.

    Note: For the most recent university guidelines and requirements, please consult the Graduate School.

    The Robotics Ph.D. program of study comprise a minimum of 108 credits, including at least 48 credits of coursework and 36 credits of Thesis (ROB 603). The balance may either constitute additional coursework and/or thesis credits or come from other sources such as research, reading and conference, etc. At least 50 percent of the course credits should represent stand-alone graduate courses (500 level or above). The remaining credits may include the 500 component of 400/500-level courses. Of the coursework credits, 16 must come from approved “core” courses.
     
    Robotics Core:
    The intent of the Robotics core is to ensure each program of study both specializes in robotics, and contains sufficient breadth. To that end, the four-course core comprises one introductory course, one hands-on robotics course, one autonomy course, and one fundamental control/dynamics course:
     
    1.         ROB 514: Introduction to Robotics
    2.         ROB 521: Research Robotics
    3.         ROB 537: Learning-Based Control -OR- ROB 534: Sequential Decision Making in Robotics
    4.          ME 531: Linear Multivariate Control Systems I -OR-  ROB 545: Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control
     
    Timeline of a Ph.D. in Robotics:
    The major milestones in completing a Ph.D. in robotics at Oregon State are listed below. For more information about these milestones, please contact the graduate advisor (Lynn Paul).
     
    Selecting a major professor: Your major professor will serve as your primary advisor throughout your graduate program. While we assign all incoming MIME graduate students an interim advisor, it is your responsibility to select your major professor and assemble your committee as soon as possible. Your Ph.D. program of study, which must be filed with the Graduate School prior to the sixth term of enrollment, requires your committee's approval.
     
    Qualifying examination:  The purpose of the Ph.D. qualifying exam is to assess students’ research skills (their ability to analyze, interpret, and communicate fundamental scientific, mathematical, and engineering concepts) for the purpose of determining their aptitude for the Ph.D. program. The examination also includes a diagnostic function to highlight potential weaknesses in the students’ background that can be addressed through additional coursework or independent study.
     
    Qualifying exam format: The qualifying exam consists of:

    • A written research paper on a topic selected by the committee. This will generally consist of literature review with a discussion highlighting the interesting research directions in that topic. The committee will specify the format and length of the paper, which will be due one week prior to the scheduled oral examination.
    • A 30 minute oral presentation on the topic of the research paper.
    • A 30 minute examination session on:
      • topics presented in the research paper
      • topics identified by the committee as a result of evaluating the research paper
      • material from two graduate courses (selected by the student from the robotics core)

    Qualifying exam timeline: The qualifying exam is conducted every Winter term. Students entering the program with an MS degree must take the qualifying exam in their second year in graduate school. Students entering the program with a BS degree must take the qualifying exam in their third year in graduate school.
     
    Program of Study meeting: After passing the qualifying examination and establishing a Ph.D. committee, students must convene a program meeting at which all committee members (including the Graduate Council Representative) are present. The purpose of this meeting is for you to present your program of study. At this meeting you will also present an approximate timeline for Ph.D. requirement completion (coursework completion, preliminary exam, and final oral exam).
     
    Preliminary exam: The preliminary examination evaluates a Ph.D. candidate's research methodology, experimental plan, and interpretation of preliminary results (if appropriate). The purpose of the exam is to allow the committee to aid the candidate in planning and implementing the highest quality thesis.
     
    Preliminary exam format: The preliminary exam consists of:

    • A 15 page (NSF style) proposal. Conceptually, this is the proposal that would have led to the work conducted by the student. Having performed part of the research, the student is in a position to formulate this proposal and is expected to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the performed research.
    • A presentation of the proposal to the committee
    • An oral examination on the proposal’s content

    Preliminary exam timeline: The preliminary exam must be scheduled through the Graduate School using their Exam Scheduling Form, and exam takers must be formally enrolled (for a minimum of 3 credits) during the term in which the exam takes place.

    Final Oral Examination: After completing all required coursework and thesis credits and submitting the pretext pages of your thesis to the Graduate School, you must schedule your final oral examination through the Graduate School using their Exam Scheduling Form. Also, you must be formally enrolled (for a minimum of 3 credits) during the term in which the exam takes place.

    Graduate learning outcomes for Robotics Ph.D. program

    Outcome 1: Scholarship
    The student will be able to produce and defend a significant contribution to knowledge.

    Outcome 2: Mastery of Subject Material
    The student will be able to demonstrate mastery of subject materials.

    Outcome 3: Ethical Conduct
    Students will be able to conduct scholarly or professional activities in an ethical manner.

    Note: For the most recent university guidelines and requirements, please consult the Graduate School.

    Graduate Student Handbook

    For prospective graduate students, please email MIME.GradInfo@oregonstate.edu for questions about the graduate application process. For current graduate students with questions about program paperwork, please email MIME.Gradservices@oregonstate.edu

    FAQs for applications and admissions

    Contact Us

    Cindy Grimm
    Director, Robotics Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
    grimmc@oregonstate.edu

    Stephanie Grigar
    Graduate Program Coordinator
    stephanie.grigar@oregonstate.edu

    Lynn Paul
    Head Advisor, Mime Graduate Programs
    lynn.paul@oregonstate.edu

    Tyler DeAdder
    Head Advisor, EECS Undergraduate Programs 
    Tyler.DeAdder@oregonstate.edu

    Akaanchya Pradhan
    Head Advisor, MIME Undergraduate Programs 
    akaanchya.pradhan@oregonstate.edu

    Remote video URL
    Grace Diehl is a doctoral student in robotics and computer science. She is part of the Human-Machine Teaming Laboratory, where she works on distributed artificial intelligence for swarm robotics and multirobot systems. Grace is advised by Julie A. Adams, the College of Engineering Dean's Professor of computer science.  

     

    Remote video URL
    Alejandro Velasquez Lopez is a doctoral student in robotics. He developed an proxy for an apple to train an apple-picking robot. Alejandro is advised by Cindy Grimm, professor of robotics, and Joe Davidson, assistant professor of robotics. 
    Remote video URL
    Logan Yliniemi (Ph.D. mechanical engineering and Robotics ’15) was one of the first students to receive a doctorate from Oregon State's robotics program. Today, he is a research scientist working to increase productivity throughout Amazon’s network.


     

    Bipedal robot developed at Oregon State achieves Guinness World Record in 100 meters  
    Cassie the robot, invented at the Oregon State University College of Engineering and produced by OSU spinout company Agility Robotics, has established a Guinness World Record for the fastest 100 meters by a bipedal robot.  

    Oregon State researchers, veterans’ home explore ways to enhance residents’ health with robots  
    Naomi Fitter has received NIH funding for a project to see if robots can improve residents’ health and wellness by engaging them in physical and mental exercise.  

    The softer side of electronics  
    Soft robots are made of pliant, supple materials, such as silicone. Some can squeeze through tiny spaces or travel over broken ground — tasks that stymie rigid robots. The field of soft robotics is still in the early stages of development, but it offers remarkable potential. One day soon, soft robots may be used in applications as diverse as searching collapsed buildings or as exosuits that facilitate recovery from injuries or strokes.  

    Putting robots to work down on the farm 
    When you think of robots, chances are you picture them in an industrial setting, such as an automotive assembly plant. But one field where robots are poised to make a big impact over the next couple of decades is literally out on the field — in farms and orchards, harvesting food crops. Envisioning a future where technology has freed humans from such drudgery, Joe Davidson, assistant professor of robotics and a member of the Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute at Oregon State University, is working to develop robotic systems for agriculture. 

    Socializing Robots 
    Although moviemakers have long seen the purpose in creating charismatic robots that fit in with human culture, roboticists have traditionally overlooked this area. But that is rapidly changing, according to Heather Knight, assistant professor of computer science. 

    Robotics and AI, Engineering Out Loud, Season 9 
    Oregon State researchers are leading the robotics and AI revolution, from policy and ethics, to programming and practical applications. 

    Research Experiences for Undergraduates: Robots in the Real World

    The 10-week "Robots in the Real World" summer REU Site offers research experiences in all areas of robotics for students with backgrounds in computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, social science, or any closely related fields.

    More information