Frequently Asked Questions

I’m an undergraduate student at Yale. Can I work on a project in your lab?

We typically have anywhere from four to seven undergrads working on projects with Professor Scassellati and we take these projects very seriously. We routinely see these projects become papers at academic conferences, and we’ve even had an undergraduate win a best paper award from a project in the lab. Almost always, these students have taken CS 473 (Intelligent Robotics) or CS 470 (Artificial Intelligence) before they begin work. We have students working both for pay and for credit, but we do have a limited number of positions available at any given time. Your best chance of getting one of these spots is to talk to some of the graduate students in the group and to attend our weekly lab meetings.

I’m a prospective graduate student.  Can I do my graduate studies in your group?

We encourage you to apply for admission to the graduate program in Computer Science at Yale.  We are always looking for good students with a strong undergraduate preparation.  All applicants who show interest in robotics eventually end up on Professor Scassellati’s desk, so he will be certain to see your admissions package.  Unfortunately, he cannot estimate your chances of being admitted.  Please do not email him your CV, letters of reference, or other application materials.  He cannot consider them unless they come through the official channels and sending them directly to him will not help you get admitted.

My child/sibling/friend has autism and would love to participate in your research projects.  Can you fit them in some time?

Our clinical work is done in collaboration with the Autism Program at Yale. Please visit their website for up-to-date information on the types of studies that are currently recruiting subjects. The clinical work that we do follows very rigid protocols for subject recruitment which do not typically allow us to bring in additional subjects through other means.  These protocols are designed to protect both the individuals involved in our studies and the integrity of the research project.

Can you help me with my school assignment/project?

We wish we could, but we receive so many of these requests that we cannot possibly respond to them all.  A short, specific question is much more likely to get a response than a request to “tell me about your robots”. You can find a great deal of information in our Publications or from some of the Projects we are working on.

Are tours available? Can I come play with your robots?

We do tours by appointment only and have a very limited availability schedule.  Please send email to Larissa Hall, Lab Manager if you are interested.

I’m with the media and you haven’t returned my calls. Will you do an interview?

There are many times when we are happy to talk with the media and other times when we can’t even find the time to return phone calls. However, we routinely turn down all requests for interviews concerning our clinical work with individuals with autism.  This work is still preliminary and until we have conclusive data to report, we believe that it is unethical to discuss possible outcomes of these studies.

How do you pronounce Professor Scassellati’s last name?

It’s unfortunately not easy. A good quick approximation would be: S - casa [house] - latte [a coffee drink with milk]

Do people really call him “Scaz”?

Yes. It’s a nickname that he has had since he was a child. His students, his colleagues, his wife, and his friends often will simply call him “Scaz”.  A few of them are sometimes confused when they hear him called “Brian”, but that might just be them.