open letter from Prof. Mark Cutkosky to prospective applicants:

Dear Prospective Applicants and Visitors,

Thank you very much for your interest in research in the BDML. Please recognize that I get many emails inquiring about opportunities and it is likely that I lose some or sometimes fail to respond in a timely manner. I encourage you to read the material below, which may answer your questions, before contacting me. Concerning research projects, the project pages on this wiki are not always perfectly up to date, but they are the best overall view of what is going on.


Mark Cutkosky

Graduate Students

The bullet points below give some general advice about how to get involved. Students interested generally in robotics and haptics should also learn about other opportunities including Prof. Waldron's LocoLab, the C.S. Robotics Lab, the Haptics and Medical Robotics Lab and the Aerospace Robotics Lab. Departmental boundaries are "porous" at the graduate level, and M.E. students can be found in all of these laboratories.
  • Prospective students: Students interested in working with Prof. Cutkosky in the BDML should realize that admission is exclusively by the admissions committee of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Most of the accepted students are at the Masters level. Few post-masters students are admitted, and these are on a case-by-case basis when there is a particular opportunity. Please also realize that Research Assistantships for my lab are almost never offered to students who have not already accepted admission.
  • Enrolled students: The usual process is for interested students to first attend research meetings and seminars. If there is a topic of mutual interest, a good way to get involved is to undertake some Directed Study (ME391 or ME392), which can ultimately lead to supervised research at the doctoral level. Every effort is made to maintain funding for doctoral students through fellowships, research assistantships and teaching assistantships.


Postdoctoral positions are filled on a case-by-case basis, as opportunities arrive. At present, there are no funded openings for post-doctoral researchers in BDML.


  • The main way for Stanford undergraduates to get involved is through the M.E. summer research program. This is a well-organized program and I typically have 2-3 undergraduate students each summer. Students who have taken ME112 are particularly encouraged to contact me.
  • During the academic year, it is harder for most undergraduates to make significant progress, but on a case-by-case basis, one or two students can sometimes contribute to an ongoing project.
  • There is almost never an opening for undergraduates from other schools on summer projects, largely because they are competing with Stanford undergraduates for the same positions.

Visiting Researchers

Visitors to BDML are hosted at the Center for Design Research, of which BDML is a part. CDR typically has space for a couple of visiting researchers at any time.
  • Faculty: Visiting faculty (e.g., on sabbatical or on a research exchange fellowship) are invited on a case-by-case basis, if space permits and if there is a research project of mutual interest. CDR charges a fee for providing administrative support, computer services, etc. for visiting faculty and post-doctoral researchers.
  • Students: Visiting students are invited only on a case-by-case basis where there is a strong research connection between BDML and the student's advisor. Stanford University charges a quarterly Permit to Attend fee for all visiting students, whether they audit courses or not. In addition CDR charges a fee for administrative support.

-- MarkCutkosky - started 27 Oct 2009

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