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

MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Federico Casalegno

Project Title: Design and Develop Augmented Reality Contents

Project Description: Candidates will become adept in designing interactive contents for Augmented Reality applications. Candidates will bring to life effective designs of innovative contents for Augmented Reality systems, and will work also on a systemic level, connecting the AR system to other devices. They will integrate voice and image recognition in the AR application. As part of a team, they will support the selection and/or design of AR systems, and will specifically work on the design and development of interactive contents for AR.

Prerequisites: Candidates should have strong passion for Augmented and Virtual reality solutions. They should have a robust knowledge of Javascript and Python languages, Android platform, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols, and experience in working with voice or image recognition platforms or APIs. Knowledge of Augmented Reality software (e.g. Unity, Unreal engine, Vuforia) is a plus. In addition to being incredibly skilled and to having a problem-solving attitude, the right candidate is a team player, self-motivated and has a demonstrated ability to meet deadlines.

Contact: Sara Colombo: scolombo@mit.edu


MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Federico Casalegno

Project Title: Design and develop robotic solutions

Project Description: Candidates will become expert in current and emerging technologies connected to robots/drones movement, environment sensing capabilities and controls. They will become adept in designing wearable robotic solutions and/or UAV for extreme environments. Candidates will bring to life effective designs of innovative solutions and will contribute to all the phases of the project, from research to design and prototype development. As part of a team, they will collaborate with industrial designers to define the technical requirements of the solution to develop and support the selection of the technologies and components that meet those requirements (e.g. motors, batteries, actuators, etc.).

Prerequisites: Candidates should have a strong mechanical engineering background and practical experience in building robotic solutions. It is essential to have a strong knowledge of technologies and components that allow to design and prototype new robotic solutions (robots/UAV), in particular sensors, batteries and movement actuators. Knowledge of technologies supporting self-driving capabilities is a plus. In addition to being incredibly skilled and to having a problem-solving attitude, the right candidate is a team player, self-motivated and has a demonstrated ability to meet deadlines.

Contact: Sara Colombo: scolombo@mit.edu


MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Eric Klopfer

Project Title: TaleBlazer Software Developer – Location-based Augmented Reality on Smartphones

Project Description: Interested in location-based technology? Interested in games?  Want to play with smartphones? Apply to work on TaleBlazer for credit as a UROP or UAP! 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 App Inventor, 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 Studio, 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 JavaScript/HTML/CSS frontend.

A single semester position for the Spring semester 2018 is available. Candidate may start work during IAP if desired.

Project ideas include:

  • Map Improvements – rework main interface to add ability to rotate ‘static’ map and zoom in/out and make other usability enhancements.
  • Data Collection – allow players to take photos and/or add notes during gameplay.  Use your keen UI design skills and your mobile-user expertise to design and implement a meaningful way for players to collect and review their data.
  • Feature Enhancements – help make TaleBlazer more usable by adding some highly requested features such as the ability to control sound effects, etc.

Prerequisites: While these positions require a strong programming background, experience with specific programming languages is not required. Availability to work majority of hours during business hours at the STEP Lab is required.

Relevant URL: taleblazer.org

Apply: If you are interested in this position, please send an email to tea-jobs@mit.edu and include:

  • an overview of your programming experience (specific references to relevant courses and other development and programming projects would be very helpful) including any pertinent URLs
  • please specify which position(s) you are interested in
  • a summary of any previous UROP and work experience (attach a resume if you have one)
  • a short description of why you are interested in working on this project
  • Please put “TaleBlazer” in the subject line

IT Faculty Supervisor Name:  Eric Klopfer

Project Title: Virtual reality and games for STEM learning

Project Description: Are you curious about how to use virtual reality, simulations, and games to help students understand and imagine careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects? In this project, you will work closely with TSL research scientists to understand the current research about using technology based solutions in high school classrooms. We are currently working on a game for 9th grade biology students in which students will be able to explore a cell using an Oculus Rift headset. UROPs will help assimilate research on students’ conceptions in biology, effectiveness and strategies for using 2D, 3D, and 3D VR simulations in educational games, and fostering collaboration in those environments. Sponsored research funding available. Specific end of UROP goal: Understand current research in educational games that involve collaboration and virtual reality simulations.

Contact: If you are interested in this position, please send an email to Cindy Sambataro csambata@mit.eduand include:

  • an overview of your research experience (specific references to courses and other projects or experiences would be very helpful) including any pertinent URLs
  • a summary of any previous UROP and work experience (attach a resume if you have one)
  • the number of hours you could work on the project
  • a short description of why you are interested in working on this project
  • Please put the title of the project in the subject line of your email
  • Please indicate whether you are looking for IAP or spring or both IAP and spring, and whether you are seeking a UROP for credit or for pay.

MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Justin Reich

Project Title: MicroMasters Program Research and Evaluation

Project Description: MicroMasters is a professional and academic credential for online learners from anywhere in the world. Learners who pass an integrated set of MITx graduate-level courses on edX.org, and one or more proctored exams, will earn a MicroMasters credential from MITx, and can then apply for an accelerated, on campus, master’s degree program at MIT or other top universities. The very first blended cohort of the Supply Chain Management MicroMasters will be on campus this fall, and we are starting a research project to investigate the experience of learners in both the traditional and blended programs, their level of preparation, and other aspects of the program with the ultimate goal of preparing an advisory report to the SCM program and to the university about the future of MicroMasters. Researchers on this project will help conduct interviews, design and deliver surveys, and evaluate other forms of data.  Sponsored research funding available.

Specific end of UROP goal: Design and create game bundles on different STEM topics for ELK, design new versions of games to help teachers become more effective in building on what students know.

Address letter to: Justin Reich jreich@mit.edu

Contact: Please send a resume and a brief cover letter via email to csambata@mit.edu.  Please indicate which project(s) you would be interested in and describe how your experience or interests would be a good match for the project(s). Also, please indicate whether you are looking for IAP or spring or both IAP and spring, and whether you are seeking a UROP for credit or for pay.


MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Justin Reich

Project Title: Crazy STEM-tastic Lessons Design

Project Description: Are you passionate about STEM? Do you want to share your ideas with K12 students and teachers? What are some crazy topics that you have been pursuing or interested that you think middle and high school students can learn from? This is an opportunity to have an independent design research project where you can pick a topic and create lessons/ activities and units, from robotics to mathematical modeling to nuclear physics to materials science. Starting from your ideas, we’ll work with teachers and designers to create lessons and activities that can be used in classrooms.

Specific end of UROP goal: Create and present a series of interactive, engaging activities, and experiences about STEM topics that are suitable for an audience of middle school or high school students.

Address the letter to: Yoon Jeon (YJ) Kim

Contact: Please send a resume and a brief cover letter via email to csambata@mit.edu.  Please indicate which project(s) you would be interested in and describe how your experience or interests would be a good match for the project(s). Also, please indicate whether you are looking for IAP or spring or both IAP and spring, and whether you are seeking a UROP for credit or for pay.


MIT Faculty Supervisor Name: Justin Reich

Project Title: Playful Practice Spaces and Making

Project Description: Do you like to play lots of different games? We are looking for UROPs who are interested in creating digital and non-digital games that can help teachers to be better prepared for authentic teaching situations. If you play a lot of games and are fluent with different game mechanics, you are the perfect candidate! For example, classroom management can be very challenging. What kinds of game mechanics can be used to teach this skill differently? If this question excites you, please join our lab to create these game prototypes. The prototypes you create will be used by the students of the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning, and some other teacher education programs. You will have rich opportunities to design and test with other people who work in the lab as well.

Specific end of UROP goal: You will create a prototype of playful practice space (i.e. game-like learning experience) targeting teachers and help them to learn fundamental skills.

Address the letter to: Yoon Jeon (YJ) Kim

Contact: Please send a resume and a brief cover letter via email to csambata@mit.edu.  Please indicate which project(s) you would be interested in and describe how your experience or interests would be a good match for the project(s). Also, please indicate whether you are looking for IAP or spring or both IAP and spring, and whether you are seeking a UROP for credit or for pay.

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.