Research in Industrial Projects for Students (RIPS) 2015

June 22 - August 21, 2015


Who should consider applying to RIPS?

RIPS is a program for students who are enrolled in or have just completed an undergraduate (bachelors) degree. Students with a strong background in mathematics and an interest in seeing how mathematics is used in the real world are encouraged to apply. Most of the projects have a significant computational component, so that proficiency (or at least some experience) in computer science, data analysis or numerical computation is valuable, but not necessary for everyone. Competition is high for the limited slots available. International students are eligible to apply for RIPS-LA

What will participating in RIPS do for me?

First, in contrast to most summer research experiences focus on an academic problem where students work closely with an academic mentor, RIPS is unique in that students apply their mathematics knowledge to a real-world industrial problem, with an emphasis on problem solving using whatever methods are appropriate. In this way, RIPS is a cross between an REU and an internship. Second, RIPS students work on teams, with one student serving as project manager. For many students, this is their first experience working in a team environment.  Third, RIPS provides students an opportunity to explore careers in mathematics, science and technology. They learn about the company that is sponsoring their project through interaction with their industrial mentor, and about the other industry sponsors through discussions with other RIPS students about their projects. Fourth, RIPS students learn report writing and public presentation skills that will be invaluable to them as they continue with an academic or professional career in an industrial setting. These skills, combined with real-world research experience, give students an edge in the job market.

What is it is like to participate in RIPS?

RIPS students live, work and socialize together over the summer, so they form close professional and personal relationships. Students have an office with a computer and meeting space at IPAM. IPAM provides technical support as well as daily “tea time” and occasional guest lectures. Students stay in university housing within walking distance of IPAM and eat most meals on campus. UCLA is located approximately four miles from the Santa Monica beaches and is within close proximity to many popular tourist destinations. Students work hard, but they can also take surfing lessons, tour Hollywood studios, take weekend trips to national parks, and find other ways to enjoy their summer in LA.

What does the program emphasize?

The program emphasizes research, of course, but this is just part of it. You will experience group work, perhaps for the first time, and learn to navigate the team environment. In addition, there is a significant emphasis on the presentation of your research. You will write a formal final report for your “client” (the industry sponsor) as well as prepare and give midterm and final presentations of your work to an audience that includes students, faculty, industry professionals, and others. The last two weeks of the program are devoted to the final report and presentation, culminating in “Projects Day” and your site visit to your sponsor’s office, lab or facility.

What is a Project Manager?

One student on each team will serve as project manager, whose role includes leading team discussions, coordinating individual team member efforts, monitoring the team’s progress in meeting milestones, and communicating with the industry sponsor and RIPS director. It is a worthwhile opportunity as well as a challenging responsibility. The RIPS director provides the project managers with regular coaching and support. The RIPS director and your academic mentor will choose the project manager during the first week of RIPS.

What support do participants receive?

Travel (airfare or mileage reimbursement) to IPAM is covered, subject to certain rules and limits. Housing in the dorms is included. Most meals are covered as well. In addition, participants receive a stipend of $3000.


Not exactly. It is a research experience, but the projects come from industry rather than academia, so it is essentially a cross between an REU and an internship. Furthermore, IPAM is independent of the UCLA math department, so RIPS students do not have regular interaction with the math department. That said, IPAM arranges occasional lectures given by UCLA postdocs and faculty of math and related disciplines, and many of the academic mentors are UCLA math postdocs. There are no classes during RIPS; the focus is entirely on the research projects, and ultimately presenting the results.

What classes should a student have already completed to be adequately prepared for RIPS?

The backgrounds of successful applicants vary quite a bit. Most have taken some upper-division math and some computer programming classes. We will consider the courses you have completed to decide which project is right for you; since students work in teams, if you haven’t covered a subject that is relevant to your project, chances are one of the other students have.

I will graduate with my Bachelors Degree this spring; am I eligible to participate in the RIPS program this summer?

Yes, we will accept applicants who will complete their bachelor’s degree between December and June of the current academic year.

I am a foreign student studying in the United States; am I eligible to participate?

Yes, your application will be considered for RIPS-LA. If you are a full time student at your current institute and plan on returning to that institution full-time after the summer, you will already be on an F-1 visa, in which case you may have to register for “Curricular Practical Training” (CPT) through your home institution. Please note that “Optional Practical Training” (OPT) is not permissible.  Unfortunately, this means that we cannot accept foreign students who graduate from a U.S. school before the program begins.

I am not a US citizen and I attend a foreign university; am I eligible to participate?

Yes, your application will be considered for RIPS-LA. You must be the equivalent of an undergraduate student enrolled in a bachelors degree program; if you are not sure if you qualify, please email your resume to in advance of the application due date. If you are chosen to participate, UCLA will sponsor your J-1 visa.

How should I tell my references to submit their letters?

Reference letters need to be uploaded on the MathPrograms webpage. You will be asked to enter your letter writers’ names and email addresses. The system will send them automatic email requests on your behalf, or you can customize the letter sent to them from the application page. You can also track when a letter is uploaded by one of your references.

Is it necessary to submit transcripts with my application?

A transcript or academic record (listing your classes and grades) from your undergraduate institution is required, but it can be unofficial. The file submission happens on the application webpage. The application form will ask you to upload your resume/CV and transcript(s). You may submit your application and return to it later to upload one or both documents.

Please note some schools issue “protected” PDF files – if you try and upload such a file you will get an error saying it’s a protected file. If this happens you have to print it out, scan it, and then upload it again.