REU: Robots in the Real World

Memorial Union exterior in fall.
Students sitting in the atrium of Kelley Engineering.
Joe Davidson holding a robotic hand.
Hands typing at a laptop keyboard.
Covell Hall from an aerial perspective.

The Program

Thank you for your interest in our 10-week "Robots in the Real World" summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site, which has been running for ten years, most recently supported by the National Science Foundation under award CNS 1950927. This year's program will run from June 24 to August 30, 2024 on the main OSU campus in Corvallis, OR. We offer 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. The specific projects for 2024 are listed on the project page. 

Students deploying a robot at sea.


Applications for the next REU program cycle are now open. You can submit your application via the NSF ETAP tool here: Applications will close on February 7th at 11:59pm Pacific Time.


Program Description

User interacting with a Cozmo robot in a break-taking intervention.

The Robotics program at Oregon State University has offered summer research opportunities for ten years (with past support from the National Science Foundation under award 1359480, years 2014-2016, and award 1659746, years 2017-2019). Our students have pursued projects in a variety of areas of robotics that deal with the real world; from remote marine sensing, to building and controlling legged robots, to picking up and manipulating objects, to managing swarms of robots, and to how we can incorporate robots into our daily lives. Exciting research is, however, only part of the story. We want students to leave our program excited about continuing to do research in robotics, and to give them the tools to successfully transition to graduate-level research, and to continue research at their home institutions. 

During our 10-week summer program, students will work on specific research projects alongside graduate students and faculty, attend workshops to find out what graduate school and research is all about, learn how to apply for graduate student fellowships (such as the NSF GRFP), and enjoy the great Oregon outdoors through student-organized activities. There will be plenty of opportunities to socialize with both faculty, graduate student mentors, and other REU students on campus in a variety of areas. During the 10 weeks of the program, students will gain insight into the research process, and what it means to be a graduate student. 

We have a focus on giving back - teaching our summer students how to inspire and motivate other students at their home institutions and hometowns. What can you do to support increasing diversity in the STEM fields? Robotics is appealing to a wide variety of people; help spread that appeal.

Following the program, we will continue to provide support and guidance to students interested in applying for graduate fellowships and programs. Funds are also available to help REU students travel to conferences and present their research.

All participants will receive a $7,000 stipend for the summer, plus a stipend for travel, housing, and food allowance. We have reserved space in student summer scholar dorm housing for REU participants from out of town, for those who want to take advantage of it.


Robotics student and robot performing stand-up comedy.

Program Goals

The goals of the REU program are to:

  • introduce students to the rich variety of research directions available in the field of robotics
  • teach students how to conduct research and work in multidisciplinary teams to achieve their goals
  • provide hands-on, long-term guidance on what graduate school is like, what makes for a successful application, and how to apply for fellowships
  • provide opportunities for interacting with Oregon State REU students from a variety of other disciplines
  • provide continuing research opportunities for students when they return to their home institution
  • provide opportunities and guidance on how to broaden participation in robotics


Who Should Apply?

Admission to the REU program is competitive and will be based on the applicant's academic preparation and potential to perform research in an area of robotics. We ask all applicants to submit an academic transcript, answer questions about their areas of interest and experience outside of academics (such as leadership roles), and the names of two people willing to write letters of reference in support of the application. We are particularly interested in applicants with diverse backgrounds, such as an interest in psychology, mathematics, biology, or art, because robotics touches on all of these fields.

We are specifically looking for students who have a demonstrated passion for outreach, diversity and engagement. 

Robot pruning branches in an orchard.

Students from all institutions, including Oregon State University, are welcome to apply. Students from historically underrepresented groups, and from colleges and universities that have limited research facilities, including tribal colleges and universities and community colleges, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Note: The majority of our program is funded by the National Science Foundation and, as such, is only open to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.


Research Projects

Research projects span a wide variety of applications, from multi-robot coordination to manufacturing to human-robot interaction to grasping. Examples of specific projects are available via the Projects card link at the top of this page. Please take time to browse through them; in the application process you will be asked to rank your interest in them.