Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROPs)

You learn by doing, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities are how you do research at CMS/W as an undergrad.

MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROPs) are meant to connect students with faculty research. Arranging one for yourself with CMS/W can take a couple different paths. The most common is to have a great idea, related to CMS/W research or faculty interests, and approach a faculty member directly about his or her becoming your UROP sponsor. The other is to check out the list of available UROPs proposed by faculty—think of them as job openings—and apply.

A UROP can be for pay, for credit, or as a volunteer. Whichever it is, your work and CMS/W’s obligations to you use the same standard: the research done “must be worthy of academic credit”.

UROP proposals are welcome all year long, though there are deadlines.

Current UROP Openings

Project Title: Insurance of the Future

Faculty Supervisor: Federico Casalegno

Project Description: The MIT Design Lab, Mobile Experience Lab is looking to determine what insurance will look like in the future. First we ask, how do millennials view and use different insurance products? An insurance claim is typically filed when something bad happens. With that in mind, how can we design an insurance claim system to that minimizes the pain of filing a claim? We are seeking a student to help us determine current UX trends in the insurance space as well as helping us to design insurance technologies of the future. This role will require secondary source research, trend mapping, user interface/user experience analysis, and journey mapping. The latter part of the project would also include creating wireframes and prototypes of a future interface.

The ideal student would have an interest in designing services, be familiar with concepts and applications in Human Computer Interaction/UX, and be excited about future speculation. Experience with UI design/front-end coding would be a plus.

Prerequisites: Course(s) in HCI/usability, excellent communication and organization

Contact Name: Vicky Zeamer
Contact Email: vzeamer@mit.edu

Project Title: Assessing Writing Performance

Faculty Supervisor: Suzanne Lane

Project description: Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP) is currently researching ways to assess writing performance in relation to habits, attitudes and specialized disciplinary knowledge. The work involves analysis of data collected from a robust survey instrument, as well as direct assessment of written texts. At this stage, we have a large data set and are designing a visual framework for understanding and communicating the results of our analysis to multiple stakeholders, both within the MIT community and outside. We anticipate for this work to be published in 2016.

Responsibility: You will work with the directors of WRAP to design interactive data visualizations. Your role will be to program an app that will gather the data from spreadsheets and display a variety of relationships, ideally with the ability to shift the various factors on display. We’ll be looking for you to help us think through the design of the visualizations. Some data entry may be necessary, as well.

Commitment: 10 hours or more per week, continuing through the fall semester and, depending on your availability, during IAP.

Key qualifications:

  • Experience with Python, Javascript, HTML, CSS
  • Previous experience with data visualization
  • Ability to work in a multidisciplinary team
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work independently

Contact: Suzanne Lane (stlane@mit.edu)

Project Title: TaleBlazer Script Blocks Developer

Faculty Supervisor: Eric Klopfer

Project Description: Are you interested in fine-tuning your web skills? Are you interested in the affordances of blocks-based programming languages? TaleBlazer uses a shared library for the front-end of its blocks-based programming language. Delve into the guts of HTML5 to eradicate the performance issues in our script editor. Perform a thoughtful evaluation of other ways to make usability improvements and add features to our TaleBlazer editor. TaleBlazer is a location-based Augmented Reality game creation platform. Game designers build interactive games using the TaleBlazer Editor web application. Similar to Starlogo TNG, Scratch or AppInventor, the TaleBlazer Editor includes a blocks-based programming environment that allows the game designer to specify the game logic. Game players use the TaleBlazer mobile application to download and play TaleBlazer games on GPS enabled smartphones (Android or iOS). As the players move around the real world, they meet virtual characters or objects in the game world that the game designers have built for them. TaleBlazer is intended for educational purposes the players explore subject matter in a new and exciting way in a real world context. We have worked with zoos, schools, after-school clubs, etc. to design and launch various professionally developed games with science, math, and history content. The TaleBlazer Editor can also be a valuable teaching and learning tool for student game designers, who learn programming skills and game design, while delving deeply into subject matter to create games about specific topics.

Technology: The TaleBlazer Mobile application is built using Appcelerator Titanium, a 3rd party toolkit which allows the programmer to write a single codebase in JavaScript that is then compiled into native iOS and Android applications. The TaleBlazer website is based on a CakePHP/MySQL backend with a PHP/JavaScript/HTML/CSS.

Prerequisites: While these positions require a strong programming background, experience with specific programming languages is not required.

INTERESTED CANDIDATES should contact us ASAP as we hope to fill these positions quickly.

Contact: If you are interested, please send an email to tep-jobs@mit.edu and include:

  • an overview of your programming experience (include specific references to relevant courses and other development and programming projects) including any pertinent URLs
  • a summary of any previous UROP and work experience (attach a resume if you have one)
  • a cover letter describing why you are interested in working on this project

Please put “TaleBlazer UROP” in the subject line


What Do Past UROPs Have to Say About Their Experience with CMS/W?

Christine Yu: past UROP, major in Writing - Digital Media Studies, minor in Biology, and MIT class of 2012

Christine Yu: past UROP, major in Writing – Digital Media Studies, minor in Biology, and MIT class of 2012

My work with the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Lab on Project Mimesis and AIR (Advanced Identity Representation) enhanced my experience as an undergraduate at MIT by allowing me to work directly with graduate students in the CMS department. I had previously UROP’ed for the Biology department, and so transferring over to CMS was quite the change; I found the CMS UROP experience to be more teamwork-based. I also enjoyed the change in scenery of the labs, and it has fostered my interest in the human experience in avatar generation and gaming.I would highly recommend UROP’ing for any undergraduate in fields of interest because it helps an individual to think about post-graduate plans, and it allows them to meet the future professionals of that field. While my post-graduate plans are currently medical school-based, I’ve been asked during interviews about my experience in the ICE Lab, and it’s always very fun to be able to talk about a broad range of my interests. I feel like my experience in the ICE Lab enhances my applications because it allows me to present myself as very personable, instead of just sitting behind a lab bench pipetting all day.