Join Us

How to apply:

Please carefully review the information on this page and read the specific qualifications required for PhD, MS, and BS students. If you want to join the lab (and/or receive financial support), fill out and submit the application form below. This application is only for joining the ARIA lab, and you must submit your Mines application separately if you are not currently a Mines student. Make sure to mention Prof. Fathian in your Mines application if you are interested in joining the lab.

ARIA Lab application form:

To complete this application, you will need to upload the following material: 

Please combine all of the above into a single PDF file when you are asked to upload them in the application form. You may optionally include a brief (1-page) cover letter, your GRE scores (highly recommended if you have them), your TOEFL/IELTS scores (if you are an international student), or any other relevant information that can help with assessing your qualifications, such as preprints, technical reports describing your prior work, links to repositories containing code that you have written, etc.

After submission:

We will be notified automatically after you submit your application material. Please feel free to follow up with an email after you have submitted your application material on the Google Form (all application material must be submitted using the form & not emailed unless you are unable to use Google Forms for some reason).  After we have reviewed your application and determined that your background is a good fit for the lab, we will schedule a meeting to discuss the opportunities in greater detail and answer any questions you may have. The meeting can take place in person (if you are at Mines/Colorado) or virtually (via Zoom).

Mines application:

If you are not a Mines student and need to apply, please be mindful of the application deadlines for domestic & international students. If you want to join the ARIA lab, you can apply to either the Computer Science or Robotics programs. 

Financial aid:

All admitted PhD students will receive full financial support (tuition + salary). MS students are not typically supported financially; however, after a trial period, exceptional MS students may be supported (on an hourly basis). BS students do not receive financial assistance directly from ARIA lab; however, there are numerous opportunities for financial assistance, such as Mines MURF, Mines SURF, Mines work-study, NSF scholarships, etc. If you are a BS student and want to pursue a PhD, you can apply directly to the Mines PhD program. If accepted, you will receive full financial support while you first complete the MS degree coursework and then proceed directly to the PhD program.

Because funding is limited and only a few students can receive support from the ARIA lab, we prioritize top students who can demonstrate their qualifications. You can do this by working on a volunteer basis, for example, you can register for Independent Studies with Prof. Fathian if you are a Mines student. You will be given a project and receive mentorship during this period. Students who make good progress, show enthusiasm, and have a strong work ethic will be considered for financial support. If you are unable to work for a trial period (e.g., if you are an international student abroad),  we will schedule a (technical) meeting to evaluate your qualifications. This is usually accomplished by giving you a paper to read and present. You will have approximately 2 weeks to read the paper and prepare a 15-minute presentation demonstrating your understanding of the topic and discussing your ideas for future work. 

PhD students:

All admitted PhD students will receive financial assistance in accordance with Mines policy (including waived tuition and a monthly stipend of approximately $2,700). PhD students typically begin as Teaching Assistants and progress to full-time Research Assistant positions after one year.  

PhD students will be assigned a project from one of the lab's ongoing projects. The project will be chosen based on the student's interest, qualifications, and funding availability. The student will be expected to lead the project, conduct cutting-edge research, conduct robotic experiments (if necessary), and publish in top academic journals and conferences. Prof. Fathian will closely mentor and support PhD students initially with their projects and publications. As the students progress in their PhD, they are expected to develop independence and be able to identify problems and propose solutions, mentor junior students, and build leadership skills. At the end of the PhD program, a successful candidate will be prepared to lead his or her own academic lab and/or an industry research team.

Qualifications: PhD applicants are expected to 

MS students:

MS students who are interested in working at the ARIA lab will be assigned a project and receive mentorship from Prof. Fathian and/or PhD students. MS students generally do not receive financial support unless they are on track to continue as PhD students. However, exceptional students who demonstrate dedication and enthusiasm for research will be considered for financial support (as hourly pay).

Qualifications: MS applicants are expected to 

BS students:

BS students can join the ARIA lab on a volunteer basis to gain experience in conducting cutting-edge research, participate in robotic experimentation and/or design, receive career mentorship from Prof. Fathian and graduate students, and expand their professional network (e.g., to receive recommendation letters). 

Students who demonstrate motivation, enthusiasm, and strong work ethics will be invited to co-author academic papers and lead robotic experiments. Outstanding students who wish to pursue graduate degrees will be offered a position in the ARIA lab as well as financial support to continue their MS/PhD degrees. 

Qualifications: BS applicants are expected to 

ARIA Lab's Culture:

It is important to us to create a positive, diverse, and inclusive group in which everyone feels welcome.  The culture of ARIA lab is one of collaboration, not competition! Members of the lab do not compete with one another, but rather support and help one another and collaborate on projects and papers. We have regular lab gatherings and outings (such as hiking, movie nights, and lunch/dinner), and hope to foster friendships among lab members that will last beyond graduation.   

Prof. Fathian's advising style:

Students who join the lab will be assigned a research project. Alternatively, students are welcome to propose a project of their interest that aligns with the ongoing lab projects and the lab's vision. My strategy for helping students start their research is to be available and make it clear that I am here to help if they need it. I take a hands-on approach at first, giving new students an organized list of resources and references that they need to become familiar with their project,  and the steps needed to advance in their research. In particular, I meet with new students frequently in the beginning to introduce the project goals and research problems, share and discuss relevant papers, teach materials that students may not already be familiar with, and help with writing academic papers. Once my students are comfortable with their projects and are making progress in their research, we will meet informally on a regular basis to discuss their progress, brainstorm ideas, and solve problems together.

I make sure my students know that it is okay to ask for assistance and to admit that they are struggling with a concept or a problem. I tell them I am looking forward to spending time with them, assisting and sharing my knowledge. I believe that students who receive strong initial support gain experience and develop into independent researchers very quickly. To me, the effort is more valuable than the results.  Failure is an inevitable part of conducting research on open problems, and mental barriers (such as impostor syndrome) are common among graduate students.  To convey that failing is a part of the process, I  often share some of my own failures in projects to show that we all experience failure and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I hope to correct the misconception that success should come easily and that struggling is a sign of a doomed career. For the same reason, I also communicate that oftentimes several attempts may be necessary to complete a proof, write a paper, or create a conference presentation.

By teaching the students how to solve problems, write papers, and prepare talks, I aim to help them move closer to independence. I teach the students to use frameworks such as what-why-how (e.g., what is the problem, why is it important, and how to solve it) to structure their thinking and communication. I encourage the students to read papers, keep track of the latest results (e.g., through Google Scholar and journal digests), and attend conferences to present their work and meet other researchers. During our meetings, my students and I often chat about the recent papers they have read, what they learned from them, and how they can use the concepts in their own research. My ultimate goal is to mentor students who can independently recognize and solve challenging research problems as they arise and become subject matter experts.