Research Opportunity for Undergraduate Students

We are now accepting applications for the 2022 seminar and international exchange!

Apply at:

Emerging industrial platforms such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet (II) and advances in Artificial Intelligence have tremendously accelerated the development of new generations of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) that integrate humans, human organizations, and societal processes with physical and computation processes (H-CPS). The resulting societal-scale systems such as traffic networks, electric power grids, smart cities, and networks of autonomous systems (for example, self-driving cars, unmanned air vehicles) where control is dynamically shifted between humans and machines are motivated by societal needs, but must conform to social norms and respond to expectations. The debates about licensing and liability of self-driving cars on roads, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on aerial highways, the threats of litigation against self-driving features of automobiles like Tesla, and the controversies created by smart city and smart home technologies regarding privacy violations are all indications of the build-up of societal strains about the impact of these new technology trends. These tensions now extend to regulations, certification, insurance, and other societal constructs that are necessary for the widespread adoption of these new technologies into our societal-scale systems. If these systems evolve independently in the US and other countries, they will “hard-wire” the social context in which they are created, making interoperation hard or impossible, decreasing reusability of results, and narrowing markets for products and services. While impacts of new technology trends on social policies have received attention, the other side of the coin – to make systems adaptable to social policies - is nearly absent from engineering, computer science curricula, and design practice.

The project brings together a large, interdisciplinary group of researchers from Vanderbilt University, UC Berkeley, Technical University of Munich and University of Oldenburg working on integrated dynamics of humans, human organizations and networked CPS components, systems science foundations for resilient H-CPS, high-confidence design of H-CPS with learning enabled components, and social science. The goal of the project is to develop technologies that can be adapted to varying public policies. The international collaboration exposes students to H-CPS design that is strongly contextual and provides practical experience with the required scientific and technical foundations.

SPRING 2022 – Research Seminar

The one-credit course is designed to give students a broad overview of the projects going on at Vanderbilt as well as cross-training that will prepare them both for the internships and for their future careers. Each class will consist of two components: an introduction to a Vanderbilt research project presented by the project PI along with either a hands-on demonstration of the project or a discussion of a reading assignment. Generally, there are one or two short articles required for reading each week.

Accepted students have the option of registering the research activity as a 1 credit hour independent study. Participation in the spring seminar does not necessitate participation in the summer 2021 student exchange.

SUMMER 2022 – Research Experience for Undergraduates

  1. Five students will be selected for the eight week Summer Research Program in Germany at the Technical University of Munich or at the University of Oldenburg. The expected time period is early May to early July, but this period may be subject to adjustment.
  2. Selected students will receive NSF funding covering their travel and subsistence expense. The estimated support includes:
    1. airfare,  
    2. lodging,
    3. meal allowance,
    4. public transport allowance
    5. health insurance

The host Universities will provide access to all facilities and services at the University and at the affiliated Research Institutes (OFFIS and FORTIS) involved in the program.

  1. Students will have mentors/supervisors at the host laboratories and will work at state-of-the-art facilities.
  2. The output of the summer internship will be a final report about your research and experiences. The program will conclude with a project meeting for all participants in either the US or in Germany.

*Please note that travel to Germany is contingent on the circumstances with pandemic. If international travel is impossible, adjustments will be made so participating students can work from Vanderbilt or remotely from home.


Sophomores and Juniors from the School of Engineering and Arts and Sciences may apply. Preference is given to students with skills in areas such as embedded systems development, modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence and design, and/or to students with demonstrated interest in technology and societal aspects of technological progress.

There is a U.S. Citizenship requirement for the students who are selected to go to Germany, but there will be many opportunities for summer research at VU-ISIS for students who do not meet that requirement. Students who participate in the Spring seminar are given preference when making selections for summer internships.


Interested students should submit their CV, up to date transcripts, and a statement of interest of up to 300 words through

The Application deadline is Friday, December 10, 2021. All applicants need to indicate in their application if they would like to participate in the Summer Research Program. Decisions will be announced by Friday, December 17, 2021.