We welcome inquiries regarding opportunities in the lab for both graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at any time. Before doing so, you should browse the web page descriptions of some of our group's current projects, and apply to the graduate program in Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University, specifying your interest in working with me in Human-Computer Interaction or Computer Vision as part of the Intelligent Systems research group.
To let me know about your interest, please email the following to my attention:
Due to the high volume of applications we receive, we are generally limited to responding only to promising candidates.
If you're a scholarship student (or expect to receive an NSERC or equivalent) and live within reasaonble proximity to Montreal, please contact me directly to arrange a time to visit our lab.
First, you should have excellent grades; the department's minimum threshold is a CGPA of 3.0 out of 4 or a GPA of 3.2 out of 4.0 for the last two full-time academic years, but in general, we accept only students with much stronger records. There are TOEFL requirements for non-Canadian applicants (GRE is optional). See the admissions requirements page for details. You should also posess a solid background (e.g. an undergraduate degree) in Electrical and Computer Engineering or Computer Science, have strong programming skills in C, Java, Python, or equivalent, and have excellent communication skills.
For students wishing to enter the Ph.D. program, you should have relevant experience in a core subject area pertinent to the research project of interest and ideally, a number of publications.
We provide funding to a limited number of graduate students every year through research grants and contracts. However, other than cases where a prospective student already has a scholarship (see below), we are unlikely to provide support for M.Eng. students. Qualified Canadian applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for NSERC or FRQNT scholarships. Additional scholarships are also available, based on academic merit. See the the McGill Fellowships and Awards pages for graduate students and Postdocs. All incoming Ph.D. students are also eligible for the McGill Engineering Doctoral Award (MEDA), which is determined largely by excellence of your academic and research record.
Ph.D. students are likely to receive differential fee waivers, which reduce international tuition to the equivalent of Canadian fees. Graduate students may also obtain some financial support by working a limited number of hours as Teaching Assistants. Further information is available from the ECE Graduate Studies Fees and Expenses page.
There are generally a number of reasonably well defined projects in my lab that are directly suitable for an M.Sc. or Ph.D. thesis. However, I encourage students to spend (at least part of) their first semester working on a few small projects in parallel to help decide what fits best with their interests.
In ECE, M.Eng. students take 18 graduate credits, typically equivalent to 6 courses. (For Ph.D. students, course work, if any, is determined in consultation with your thesis committee.) Students should discuss their intended course selections with me, and must obtain prior supervisory approval if they wish to register for more than 6 credits of non-departmental courses. In general, most students in my group register for several courses from the following list, unless they have already taken equivalent graduate-level courses:
However, that list should not be taken as a rule, apart from the Human-Computer Interaction course, which I consider pretty much mandatory for any member of our group, who has not already taken an equivalent course.
Depending on the specific area(s) that your graduate research project(s) involve, you might consider specialized courses that provide relevant background in such areas as:
Students with a leaning toward audio applications may also consider:
There are no hard-and-fast rules for how to split your course load between semesters. Some students try to get as many courses as possible out of the way early in their studies so that they can concentrate on thesis research later; others spread the load more evenly over three or four semesters. Regardless, the trick is often dealing with scheduling constraints, as most courses are offered only once per year.
Note that you're unlikely able to manage more than 3 courses in any one semester, in particular as you'll be expected to begin some preliminary thesis research shortly after the start of your studies.
Keep in mind that if you're having a hard time choosing between several potentially interesting options, you can always start with extra courses to try them out for the first couple of weeks, and then withdraw from any of them without penalty as long as you do so before the add/drop deadline.
If you're a new M.Sc. student joining my group, you should consult the listing of graduate courses being offered for the coming year and make tentative selections before arriving at McGill. You can revise this during the "course add/drop" period in the first few weeks of the term, in consultation with your supervisor. Further information regarding the program regulations is available from the department web site.
Students must also register each semester for "thesis research" courses, which are simply placeholders to ensure you have enough credits to maintain full-time status.
For new graduate students whose first language is not English, I strongly recommend you taking one of the technical writing courses offered by the university. Previous students have found these courses immensely valuable, in particular when it comes to help in composing research papers and theses.
If you have an accepted first-authored archival paper in a top-tier (or close-to-top-tier) venue in your research area, resulting from work you've carried out in the lab, I will make sure to support your travel and registration expenses to present the work at the conference. Students can typically expect to have all reasonable expenses covered in such instances, provided that you make efforts to keep these modest, e.g., sharing hotel costs with another student, and applying for travel funding from sources such as the GREAT award or (for CIRMMT students) the CIRMMT Travel Award. For conferences that are local or for which the expenses to attend are otherwise significantly reduced, we can discuss exceptions, but in general, I expect you to be attending conferences because you are publishing in the associated venue.
McGill's Vacation Policy states that "Graduate students and Postdocs should normally be entitled to vacation leave equivalent to university holidays and an additional total of fifteen (15) working days in the year. Funded students and Postdocs with fellowships and research grant stipends taking additional vacation leave may have their funding reduced accordingly."
f you have strong marks, an interest in the research areas of my group, and an ability to learn the necessary tools quickly, I would be happy to consider you. Please see the description of our ongoing and past research projects as many of these have sub-topics that are well-suited for advanced undergraduate students.
Once you have a sense of the project(s) that interest you, please send me a brief note, with the word UNDERGRAD in the subject line, explaining why you think you or your project group are a good fit, and attach your CV(s). That way, I'll have a better sense of your interests and background to begin the conversation before you finalize your choice. If you are applying for one of my posted capstone projects but don't yet have a team, please let me know, and I'll try to put you in contact with other students with similar interests.
If you undertake a project in my lab, expect to work hard, and to be pro-active in keeping me informed of your progress on a regular basis. As Josh Redel (2012-2013 president of SSMU, the Student Society of McGill University) noted, "To be perfectly honest, I asked you to be my supervisor because I knew you would be critical... I knew you would provide more of a challenge..." If you're looking for an easy "A", please consider working with another professor.
We accept a number of research intern students each year, often for the summer months, but in general, cannot offer any funding unless you qualify for an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, McGill's Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering program, or a MITACS Globalink internship. Students from outside McGill who do not meet these criteria can apply as undergraduate research trainees through the procedures described here.
In general, it is helpful to contact me in advance, summarizing your interests in an internship, and including a CV describing your relevant experience.
Tal Arbel: Object recognition, recognition based on motion signatures, active vision, active recognition, Bayesian inference, statistical models, statistical pattern recognition, as well as medical imaging, neurology and neurosurgery, image registration.
James Clark: Active Vision, Visual Attention, Spatial Representations in Vision, Sensori-motor Systems
Frank Ferrie: Artificial perception, active vision, environmental modeling, shape representation, visual reconstruction, recognition, visualization, robotics
Martin Levine: Face recognition, Content-based image retrieval, Visual focus of attention, Object recognition