[robotics-worldwide] IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral Initiative

Pedro M U A Lima pal at isr.ist.utl.pt
Tue Jul 29 09:15:15 PDT 2008

[apologies for duplicates]

		IST-EPFL Joint Doctoral Initiative
		 Call for PhD Student Applications
	   Distributed and Cognitive Robotics Focus Area

The Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and the Ecole Polytechnique 
Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have established a Joint Doctoral 
Initiative. The PhD program, comprises a curricular component as well as 
a strong research activity. During the duration the PhD program, 
students will spend about 50% of the time at IST and 50% of the time at 
EPFL and be advised by faculty members from both institutions.

The Joint Doctoral Initiative is oriented towards seven Focus Areas. The 
choice of areas was, in some cases, grounded on existing or long 
standing collaborations and correspond to areas where both EPFL and IST 
have strong competences and have the ambition to work together to build 
synergies and take advantages from research and complementarities. The 
Focus Areas in the Initiative are the following:

Biological and Medical Imaging
Distributed and Cognitive Robotics
Computational and Stochastic Mathematics
Antennas and EM devices for Wireless Applications
Environmental Hydraulics
Plasma Physics

The focus area of Distributed and Cognitive Robotics is highly 
interdisciplinary and involves two main research lines: (i) distributed, 
networked robots and (ii) cognitive personal assistant robots and 
devices capable of interacting with humans and understanding human actions.

* Distributed, networked robots - Recent advances in robotics, computer 
vision, artificial intelligence, statistical signal processing and 
control theory, as well as the advent of miniaturized sensors and 
actuators, powerful embedded processors, and wireless communication 
systems, have afforded engineers with the methodologies and technologies 
to design and build networks of autonomous robots and systems. The 
applications include monitoring and operations in hazardous or remote 
environments (ocean, space, contaminated areas, areas destroyed by 
natural disasters, etc), in industrial or civil engineering structures 
(pipeline monitoring and surveillance, bridges, dams), and in services 
(buildings, public areas, traffic monitoring and surveillance).

* Cognitive personal assistant robots - The massive deployment of 
sensors and robotic devices (e.g. smart appliances, robotic assistants) 
in offices, homes and urban environments, as opposed to factories, 
places the interaction with humans and the interpretation of human 
activity in a central role (e.g. ambient intelligence, health-care, 
surveillance). This challenge opens a new landscape of research 
directions in learning, human action recognition and cognition in a 
multidisciplinary approach involving (e.g. humanoid) robotic systems, as 
well as neuroscience and psychology. The research domains in this Focus 
Area include Human activity recognition from sensor data (e.g. video), 
context aware systems that can learn from observation and Learning by 
imitation in humanoid robotic assistants with biological inspiration.

A selection committee consisting of faculty members both from EPFL and 
IST is responsible for ranking the candidates applying to the 
Initiative. Outstanding candidates will be awarded grants provided by 
the Portuguese FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

When applying, candidates should indicate their Focus Area of choice. If 
selected to the Initiative, students will at a later stage be invited to 
propose or choose a thesis topic within the Focus Area. The list of 
faculty members involved in each Focus Area will be provided.

Documents required for the application:
- Application form (to be provided)
- CV (good knowledge of english is mandatory)
- Statement of purpose (indicate interests and motivation, indication 
and justification of the Focus Areas for the application)
- Reference letters (mininum 3)
Applications can only be submitted electronically (one ZIP file 
containing all PDF documents) by email (email to be defined).

Deadline for application: June 21st to 15thSeptember 2008
Additional information: ist-epfl at ist.utl.pt

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