Undergrad Researcher

We are always looking for talented and energetic undergrads to join our research group. With a large diversity of projects there is always something to work on – projects span numerous domains (air transportations, UAVs, education analytics, social media analysis) and technical approaches (machine learning, optimization, simulation) and can often be tailored to match student skills and academic background. Over the years we have had great luck with undergraduate researchers as projects have resulted in conference publications or ultimately lead to funded grants. After working in ADC students have gone on to work with UAVs start-ups, national labs, and industry, while many have gone on to grad school and earned prestigous fellowships.

Unless specified, undergraduate research positions are unpaid. We do however encourage students to register for Directed Independent Research (EIN4912) for 0-3 units (graded or ungraded). After a semester or two of research, depending on performance and funding availiblity, students may be transitioned to a paid position under a funded project; however, this is typically not the norm. Instead, we highly encourage and support students through external funding oppertunities and scholarships (e.g. Excel, REU, OUR programs).

There are three pathways to joining ADC:

  • EXCEL, REU, FWEP, workstudy, etc. My favorite is EXCEL, as we have had a great history of success with EXCEL students.
  • Take a class with Prof. Vela: be excellent, attend office hours, interact in class, produce an outstanding project.
  • Have a demonstrated record of excellence (resume and degree audit). Students are expected to have A’s in majority of their technical classes.

Research projects are typically structured to be completed over one year. The first semester is typically spent learning the tools of the trade (MATLAB, python, SQL, MongoDB, TensorFlow, CPLEX, etc.). Subsequent semesters are spent performing active research. While a bit more challenging, students are tasked with their own research projects, where in collaboration with Prof. Vela they will develop a research question, technical solution, and analysis methodology. None of the research projects are geared towards executing experiements (e.g. repeating a process like chemical titration or handing out surveys) – students are challenged to think on their own and to be creative.

Please note that all research projects involve programming. The only exception are build/fly UAV projects (see UAV positons). If you struggle with programming or learning programming, then the ADC Lab is not a good match.

All academic levels are considered from freshmen to seniors. However, finding a matching project may be difficult depending on experience and time-to-graduation.

If you are interested in undergrad research feel free to send an email to Prof. Vela with a copy of your resume and unofficial transcript.

Adan Vela
Adan Vela
Assistant Professor