How to Get Involved
New trainees in the lab are recruited by existing trainees. Current trainees review Trainee Applications roughly 1-3 times a semester. We recruit new trainees to the lab as new projects are developed and as existing students graduate and leave the lab. When reviewing the Trainee Applications, we look for students who meet any of the following criteria: 1) have aligned project interests, 2) have necessary background experience, 3) are early enough in their studies to have time to learn the project and work on it for multiple semesters afterwards. You don't have to meet all three of these criteria to be selected to join the lab, but meeting more than one will help your application stand out. Once we've identified suitable applicants, we will invite several for informal interviews before inviting individuals to join the lab officially.
For students at the U, the best way to get an interview with our team is to keep your Trainee Application up to date. As you acquire new skills and interests, please update your application. You can also best prepare yourself and get a foot in the door by taking Dr. George's Intro to Robotics Class (ECE 3610, Spring Semesters) and/or his NeuroEngineering and NeuroRobotics Class (BME 6440 / ECE 6654 / ROBOT 6400, Fall Semesters). Another way to get your foot in the door is to volunteer to be a participant in our research studies. For students outside of the University of Utah, you can apply to join the lab for the summer through the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research as well as the Rural & Underserved Utah Training Experience (RUUTE). You should also stay up to date with other undergraduate research opportunities through the Office of Undergraduate Research and the School of Medicine Undergraduate Programs.
What to Expect
We encourage all undergraduate students to apply. Students who are from diverse backgrounds or who are preparing for graduate school are especially encouraged to apply! Students at the University of Utah are encouraged to apply prior to starting their senior design projects. Students generally volunteer for a semester first, and then either apply to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program to get paid to continue their research or sign up for independent study / research classes to receive course credit for their research.
We have numerous undergraduate students working in our lab from a variety of different programs and backgrounds. For example, we've worked with philosophy students, engineering students, and life science majors, just to name a few. Undergraduate researchers in the lab have developed new prosthetics and orthotics, built brain-machine interfaces, analyzed neural and electromyographic data, instantiated advanced machine learning algorithms, designed human-subject experiments, presented at conferences, and published scientific papers. Check out the list of potential trainee projects we currently have available on our trainee projects page!
Most students in the lab work 10-20 hours a week and receive course credit or pay for their involvement. As a student in the lab, you will have access to cutting-edge equipment, state-of-the-art research facilities, and dedicated mentorship from Dr. George and graduate students.
Working in the lab is a great way to supplement your learning, boost your resume, and explore career options. We've had dozen of undergraduate students in the lab, who have achieved co-author abstracts, first-author abstracts, competitive fellowships, competitive research awards, co-author manuscripts, and first-author manuscripts! Undergraduate students who have worked in the lab have gone on to prestigious medical schools, graduate schools, and industry positions. You can learn more about our current undergraduate students and alumni on our team page.
Recommended Program of Study
Prospective/incoming undergraduate students who are interested in working in the field of neurorobotics are encouraged to pursue a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Although our research is highly interdisciplinary, we feel students are best prepared at the undergraduate level through the Electrical and Computer Engineering program. Two example programs of study are provided below. One is focused around "Neural Engineering" and trains students in the fundamental electrical engineering skills necessary to develop state-of-the-art brain-computer interfaces and biomedical devices. The other is focused on "Robotics" and provides students with the training to build and control robotics devices, such as exoskeletons and bionic arms. Students who are not in the Electrical and Computer Engineering major are encouraged to adapt this program of study as much as possible to fit their program requirements.