This funding establishes a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) focused on next generation robotics. The site is hosted by the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory inside Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Each summer a cohort of undergraduate students will work with GRASP faculty on cutting-edge research aligned with core projects ongoing in the lab. The students will participate in professional development activities that make them more aware of graduate school and professional aspects of a computing career. The primary purpose of the site is to extend the GRASP research experience to more students who come from groups traditionally under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These students will have access to the outstanding faculty and facilities available at the university to conduct challenging research using technologies that underpin next generation robotics.
The intellectual merit of this project lies with the strong research team and the focus on next generation robotics technologies. The students will be exposed to the fundamentals of robotics science, spanning a wide spectrum from perception and control theory to planning algorithms and mechanical design, but unified by experiments on concretely defined real-world challenges. The research has the potential to contribute to the research core of the computing disciplines.
The broader impacts of the project include providing a quality research experience to undergraduate students, particularly students from underrepresented groups and from institutions with limited research environments. Thus this project has the potential to produce new computer science graduate students and faculty members and to advance discovery and understanding while promoting learning.