Why you should consider Rutgers and INSPIRE Lab:
There are plenty of reasons for you to choose Rutgers and INSPIRE Lab for your graduate studies. Rutgers is one of the eighth oldest institutions of higher education
in the US, established even before the founding of the US! Today, with memberships in the exclusive Association of American Universities
and the Big Ten Academic Alliance
, annual research expenditure
in excess of $650 million, and numerous top-ranked academic programs
, Rutgers is considered one of the power houses in research universities. In addition, geographic proximity of Rutgers to New York City
, the beautiful shores of New Jersey
, the scenic Pocono Mountains
, and the soothing Delaware Water Gap
means you will have plenty of things to do at Rutgers besides research.
At INSPIRE Lab, we also care deeply about the success of its members. Graduate students in INSPIRE Lab, contingent on performance and availability of funds, are financially supported throughout the duration of their studies. This support includes generous annual stipend of close to $30,000 per year, full tuition waiver, and comprehensive medical benefits. In addition, special attention is paid to the professional development of its members, which includes sponsoring of trips to research conferences and workshops throughout the world, arrangement of summer internships through industry contacts, interactions with world-class researchers as part of the SIP Seminar Series, and weekly one-on-one and monthly lab meetings. By the time students graduate from INSPIRE Lab, they become accomplished researchers ready to have successful careers in academia, research labs, big corporations, and startups.
Are you the right fit for INSPIRE Lab: The research projects at INSPIRE Lab cut across a number of technical areas, with the major ones being mathematical signal processing, computational harmonic analysis, statistics, machine learning, optimization, and distributed processing. Within these technical areas, the two main themes that define INSPIRE Lab’s research are computational algorithms and mathematical guarantees. We are therefore looking for students who feel excited about designing computational algorithms and proving the effectiveness of these algorithms for various information processing tasks. As such, in addition to being motivated, passionate, hardworking, and outside-the-box thinkers, INSPIRE Lab students need to have the ability to translate real-world problems into abstract mathematical ones and to demonstrate the efficacy of their mathematical solutions through implementations in Python, R, and/or Matlab.
Suggested steps for joining INSPIRE Lab: If you consider yourself to be a good fit for INSPIRE Lab then the first thing to do is to apply for admissions into the graduate program of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rutgers. Please note that the department does accept graduate applications throughout the year, even though some of the pages list specific deadlines. It is, however, important for you to know that INSPIRE Lab cannot help you avoid any of the official admission requirements (like GRE, TOEFL, etc.), so please do not send any emails to this effect. If you need any clarifications regarding admissions requirements and/or need to resolve any issues about your application, you should directly get in touch with the departmental graduate office.
Next, if you are planning on earning only an MS degree from Rutgers then you must first physically come to Rutgers, take at least three graduate courses in the first semester that are directly related to INSPIRE Lab’s research with a minimum grade of B+ in all courses, and then secure an appointment with Prof. Bajwa by sending an email that includes your undergraduate and graduate transcripts, your detailed CV, your standardized test scores, and your reasons for joining INSPIRE Lab. Please ensure that your reasons are stated in relation to INSPIRE Lab’s research; emails with “canned” reasons and/or the ones not adhering to these guidelines will not get a reply.
If, on the other hand, your goal is earning an MS/PhD degree from Rutgers (even if you only have a bachelor’s degree) then you should adhere to the following guidelines. First, you should ensure that your statement for graduate admissions includes your desire to join INSPIRE Lab. Second, you should send an email to Prof. Bajwa according to the following schedule: January for fall admissions and September for spring admissions. This email should include your undergraduate and graduate transcripts, your detailed CV, and your standardized test scores. In addition, please include a document in this email that carefully addresses the following points:
- Why do you want to join INSPIRE Lab? Please avoid “canned” responses.
- Why do you think you will be a good fit for INSPIRE Lab? Please reply in light of the above description of “good fit.”
- What are two papers from INSPIRE Lab in the last five years that interested you the most? Please be explicit and detailed.
It will be best if you could include all the requested materials into a single PDF file. Based on your email as well as INSPIRE Lab’s funding situation, and assuming that the department recommends you for admission, Prof. Bajwa typically follows up with a shortlist of applicants for Skype interviews and final hiring decisions.
Rutgers Students: The research projects at INSPIRE Lab cut across a number of technical areas, with the major ones being mathematical signal processing, computational harmonic analysis, statistics, machine learning, optimization, and distributed processing. INSPIRE Lab routinely engages undergraduate students currently enrolled at Rutgers in these research projects. These research opportunities typically require a commitment of anywhere from three summer months to two academic semesters. Some of these commitments involve nominal stipend, while others are on a voluntary basis. INSPIRE Lab often announces these opportunities for undergraduate students through the Aresty Research Center, while sometimes undergraduate students engage in research with INSPIRE Lab as part of independent study or the Slade Scholars Program at Rutgers.
You should consider applying for a research opportunity with INSPIRE Lab if you are majoring in ECE, CS, Math, or Stat, you understand the basics of machine learning and linear algebra, you enjoy solving abstract mathematical problems, you are fluent in Python, R, and/or Matlab, you know your way around Raspberry Pi’s and/or other embedded devices, and you do not hesitate from accepting new challenges. Before applying for any research opportunity, however, you should take a careful look at your available time: research requires serious time commitment and, often times, undergraduate students grossly underestimate the amount of time available to them for research. Based on past experiences, you should plan on committing 7-10 hours per week to research when the semester is in session and 35-40 hours per week during semester breaks. Please do not apply to INSPIRE Lab if you do not foresee yourself being able to commit this much time.
Non-Rutgers Students: INSPIRE Lab does engage with non-Rutgers undergraduate students, but only as part of established Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. We, in particular, work closely with the Rutgers DIMACS REU program on a regular basis for summer research opportunities for non-Rutgers undergraduate students. All queries regarding the REU programs should be directed to the respective program coordinators. Please do not send any emails to Prof. Bajwa concerning hosting of non-Rutgers undergraduate students at INSPIRE Lab; all such emails will be deleted without being read.
INSPIRE Lab engages with high-school students through its partnerships with various programs on and off campus. These engagements include both short, summer commitments, as in the case of New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology, as well as semester-long, for-credit internships, as in the case of the High Technology High School. Regardless of the nature of these engagements, INSPIRE Lab does not accept direct applications from high-school students for research opportunities. If you are a high-school student who is interested in exploring research opportunities with INSPIRE Lab then you should either make use of an existing partnership or ask a school representative to contact Prof. Bajwa for exploration of a new partnership. If you go for the latter option, please bear in mind that establishment of formal new partnerships easily takes 4-6 months.