The Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) Program is an intensive summer research program for talented undergraduate students. Summer Scholars have the opportunity to participate in state-of-the-art research projects, interact with a diverse research team, and be mentored by leading faculty and technical staff. The program introduces aspiring students to dynamic research resources and methods, Robotics Institute graduate education programs and research projects.
What are the RISS program dates? Alex Krause
The RISS Program dates are generally June 1 to August 15. Applicants must be available for these core program dates. Some scholars may be invited by the supporting lab to stay for an additional period (e.g. arriving earlier and/or departing later than the core dates).
Is admission competitive? How many students participate in the program every year? Alex Krause
Yes. Several hundred students apply each year for the Robotics Institute Summer Scholar (RISS) Program from the U.S. and international institutions. Approximately 35 applicants are selected to participate in the program as RI Summer Scholars.
What is the profile of a successful applicant? Alex Krause
All selected scholars will be considered for financial support. We anticipate that all scholars will receive financial support from either the Robotics Institute or program partners (e.g. the U.S. National Science Foundation).
What is the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) scholarship? Alex Krause
The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and NSF Supplemental programs support active research participation by undergraduate students.
U.S. applicants can receive financial support through the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). To qualify for an NSF REU scholarship applicants must be still be undergraduate students in the fall immediately following the summer research experience. NSF REU scholarship recipients will receive financial support and additional travel support.
NSF REU scholarship requirements:
U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or U.S. Permanent Resident
Completion of at least sophomore year
Must still be an undergraduate during BOTH the summer during and fall following the summer scholar program
GPA of 3.0 or above
I was accepted to RISS in the past, but could not attend. Do I need to reapply? Alex Krause
The program is a full-time intensive research experience. There are many free and open workshops and seminars on-campus that will enhance your research experience. However, scholars should not anticipate taking CMU courses or working part-time while participating in the program.
Scholars electing to explore signing up for regular credit-carrying classes should discuss with their RISS faculty advisor. Tuition and fees for summer courses are not covered by RISS. Course schedules and tuition information are available at www.cmu.edu/hub.
Will attending RISS help me to prepare for graduate school? Alex Krause
The application requires a resume or curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, one letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor or instructor, and unofficial transcripts (with overall GPA and major GPA) from one’s entire undergraduate period. Please note that documents will need to be saved as a Microsoft Word Document or PDF in order to be uploaded to the application website.
What should I do if my school, college, or university is not listed in the drop-down menu? Alex Krause
Your recommender should be able to speak about your academic potential and ability. A faculty member from your college or university with whom you have done research would be an excellent choice. The strongest recommendations often come from individuals who have known you for an extended period of time and had the opportunity to work with you in a research and academic setting.
May I get a recommendation from outside of academia? Alex Krause
Yes. The program welcomes applications from international students. For currently enrolled international students in the United States, ask your international services office or academic advisor for the options that best fit your needs. You may be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Academic Training. You may not need immigration processing. Speak to your international services office or academic advisor before submitting your RISS application.
I am an international student studying outside of the United States. Can I participate? If so, will I need to apply for a visa? Alex Krause
The RI Summer Scholar Program welcomes students from around the world to our labs and classrooms. Most non-US participants apply for a J-1 intern visa. Once you are accepted into the program, Carnegie Mellon will help you obtain the correct visa documents.
I am an international student and I was part of the RISS cohort last year. Do I need to do anything differently for the J-1 Intern visa? Alex Krause
English requirements for J-1 Intern Visa Documents are set by U.S. Department of State regulations.
You will need to provide your TOEFL or IELTS scores if you have taken one of these exams in the last 2 years. If you haven’t taken the test during this period, please schedule an English assessment interview with your hosting lab as soon as your participation in the program is confirmed.
What forms do I need to complete after being accepted as an international scholar? Alex Krause
You will need to fill out the paperwork for the J-1 if you complete your undergraduate degree before departing your home country for the US. However, we recommend that you contact us to discuss before sending your documents to start your visa request process.
If I’m in a combined undergraduate and graduate program (e.g. a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science) program, which visa forms should I fill out? Alex Krause
Most likely, if you are in your 4th or 5th year, you are considered a master’s-level student and should fill out the standard J visa paperwork, not the J-1 intern paperwork (http://www.ri.cmu.edu/ripublic/J1Details.html). If you are in your 2nd or 3rd year, please fill out the J-1 intern paperwork.
A friend/classmate was able to receive their visa much faster than 75 days at another school by just sending scans of documents. Will I be able to do that as well? Alex Krause
Due to the high volume of J-1 visa requests the 75 days allows for requests to be processed on time. Only J-1 Interns (not J-1 short or long-term scholars) can send scans of original documents, but must keep the original documents as OIE reserves the right to request the original documents at any time. J-1 short or research scholars will need to send original, physical documents.
I don’t have an up-to-date passport. Will this delay processing? Alex Krause
Yes. You must have an up-to-date passport in order to get your DS-2019. If you do not have an up-to-date passport, your processing will be delayed. Please check with your passport authority government for expedited processing options.
How do I obtain health insurance while I’m in the Summer Scholars’ cohort? Alex Krause