FAQ

Questions

  1. Where is the CARIS lab?
  2. What are my chances of getting accepted as a graduate student in your laboratory?
  3. I’m excited about robotics research – how do I pursue a career in this field?
  4. My child is very interested in robotics. S/he would like: a)to visit your lab; b) to meet with a robotics scientist/engineer; c) to see real robots; d) to learn more about robotics; e)all of the above. Could you arrange for my child to visit your lab and learn about your research?
  5. Do you have any openings for graduate students?
  6. Do you have any openings for undergraduate students?
  7. Do you have any openings for postdoctoral students/research engineers?
  8. Should I apply?

1. Where is the CARIS lab?

The CARIS lab is located in the Institute for Computing, Information & Cognitive Systems (ICICS) extension.  

Street Address
ICICS Building, Room X015
2366 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

Mailing Address
CARIS Lab
Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC
6250 Applied Science Lane
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

For more details, see our Contact page.

2. What are my chances of getting accepted as a graduate student in your laboratory?

We get this question repeatedly. It’s hard to answer. Selection of graduate students is very difficult. It depends on current projects, funding, student fit, background and a whole host of other items. The time lag doesn’t help either – with students applying in January and starting in September, projects and funding can shift in-between. We give preference to students who demonstrate:

  • Strong background in Mechatronics or related disciplines (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and in some cases cognitive science). High GPA in relevant courses is important.
  • Training in robotics, cognitive science, physiology, psychology, computer vision, and other related areas. 
  • Prior demonstration of activity in related projects.
  • Strong hands-on instrumentation skills
  • Strong programming skills (C++, MATLAB/Simulink, LabVIEW)
  • Strong communication skills in English, both written and oral
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and attitudes (friendly, helpful, good natured – unhappy people need not apply)
  • Strong references from supervisors (especially from people we know, or whose work is related to our area of research)

Please keep in mind that we get hundreds of inquiries about graduate studies each year, and only accept a few students. We review applications to our department very carefully, but simply do not have time to review all emailed CVs and statements of purpose. Thus, while the simple statistical likelihood of being accepted into my laboratory is quite low, the likelihood of being accepted if you do not apply is zero. Please do not email us to ask us if you should apply. That decision is up to you.

Students with major scholarships (e.g. NSERC) are obviously much more likely to be accepted to the CARIS lab (provided the fit is good).

3. I’m excited about robotics research – how do I pursue a career in this field?

In high school you need to continue to study math and physics through to graduation. These are the baseline courses needed for acceptance into programs in engineering and computer science at most universities. Keep up your interest by getting involved in robotics competitions and clubs like the FIRST Robotics Competition. We would also recommend to keep your options broad in high school and undergraduate studies – courses in biology and psychology will be helpful if you are interested in biologically inspired robotics or human-robot interaction. In university, we suggest you major in mechanical, electrical, or computer engineering, or computer sciences. Some schools have a mechatronics program. This is highly recommended as it combines elements of all three of these programs. To pursue robotics at the research and development level you will need to get into a graduate degree specializing in some area of robotics. This requires achieving high grades in your undergraduate studies – we also strongly recommend looking for opportunities to do an internship or similar program in a university robotics lab or institute.

4.  Could you arrange for my child to visit your lab and learn about your research?

Thank you for your interest in visiting our research laboratory! We get a large number of requests regarding kids that are excited about engineering, robotics, computer and computer science. To address this challenge and reach as many kids as possible, our lab participates in the following programs:

For kids in elementary school to junior high:
1) Geering Up and TechTrek: each year our lab provides a number of tours to kids who participate in this excellent, student run, summer camp program at UBC. In a typical summer we will have up to 100 kids visit our lab to have an up-close and personal robotics experience.
2) Class visits (coming soon): please see the UBC Engineering Connects page.
3) UBC Engineering open house: We participate in this yearly event by opening our lab to the general public, as well as giving public interest lectures on robotics. Date is typically in November, and will be advertised on the UBC Engineering Connects page.

For highschool students (grade 10 and up):
1) Well, the open house (above) is a good idea for all ages, but for students thinking about applying to UBC for engineering, a number of specific tours and events are organized.
2) For highschool girls the Women in Engineering group organizes a yearly grade 10 girls event in May. Typically, this group visits our lab.
3) We regularly provide provide tours for groups including the Summer Science for Aboriginal Youth Program, Shad Valley, and others. We highly recommend participating in these programs.

Around BC there are many great opportunities for robotics exposure including camps offered by the various schoolboards, community colleges, and universities. Many of the highshools have technology classes in grades 9 and 10 where kids can participate in robotics competitions and clubs – we highly recommend kids interested in robotics take these opportunities. As kids progress, we recommend they keep their options broad in highschool and undergraduate studies – courses in biology and psychology will be helpful if they are interested in biologically inspired robotics or human-robot interaction. Of course, math and physics are key courses. In university good majors for robotics include mechanical, electrical or computer engineering, or computer sciences. Some schools have a mechatronics program. This is highly recommended as it combines elements of all three of these programs. To pursue robotics at the research and development level you will need to get into a graduate degree specializing in some area of robotics. This requires achieving high grades in your undergraduate studies – and it is strongly recommended to look for opportunities to do an internship or similar program in a university robotics lab or institute.

5. Do you have any openings for graduate students?

Typically, yes, we recruit a small number of students each year. Please see our “Graduate Opportunities” page. We normally recruit students for fall (September) start. Please do not email us asking if we have any openings. We will not be able to provide you with any specific information beyond what is available on this website, which we will update as we can.  

6. Do you have any openings for undergraduate students?

Typically, yes, we recruit undergraduate students through two programs:  the NSERC USRA program (deadlines in February) and the UBC workstudy program (deadlines in August). USRA openings will normally be posted in January. Workstudy openings will normally be advertised through the workstudy website in August. Please do not email us asking if we have any openings. We will not be able to provide you with any specific information beyond what is available on this website, which we will update as we can.

7. Do you have any openings for postdoctoral students/research engineers?

Currently such positions are filled in the CARIS lab. Any openings will be posted on this website. Please email us if you are eligible for the NSERC (or similar) PDF scholarship program and would like to study at the CARIS lab.

8. Should I apply?

Please read the answers above, especially #2, and review this website. The rest is up to you (Tuum Est).

Thank you for reading the CARIS Lab FAQ. We will update it as time allows.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Applied Science
5000 - 2332 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604.822.6413
Email:
CARIS Lab
Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC,
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Tel: 604.822.3147
Fax: 604.822.2403
See contact page for addresses.

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