Research Experience for Undergraduates


NSF Funded

Program Dates:

May 28 – August 3, 2024

Application Deadline:

March 15, 2024

The SPIRE-EIT (Summer Program for Interdisciplinary Research and Education – Emerging Interface Technologies) REU program is a 10-week experience designed to nurture the next generation of innovative minds by providing an environment where students can explore cutting-edge technological solutions to real-world challenges. This program not only aims to equip participants with essential research skills but also nurtures their creativity and critical thinking abilities.

Research topics vary each summer. They have ranged from creating simulated researchers presenting at a VR poster session to biometric scanning that’s faster and higher-res than what’s on the market, to the impact of games on behavior change, to helping robots predict human behavior, to designing digital tools to help people make decisions even if they don’t know how to read graphs. We don’t yet know what’s coming for this summer, but we know there will be interesting technology, a human who wants to use it, and an interface to translate between them.

In this program, you will be placed onto a research team of three REU interns. Each team is led by a VRAC faculty member and supported by a dedicated graduate student mentor. This structure ensures that you receive personalized guidance and mentorship while working on impactful research projects. These projects will encompass various aspects of human-computer interaction, where you will have the chance to explore novel interfaces, immersive technologies, and interactive experiences that could shape the future of technology.

One of the highlights of the SPIRE-EIT REU program is the culmination of your efforts at the year-end Iowa State University Summer Research Symposium, where you’ll present your work alongside over 100 other undergraduate researchers from campus. This event provides a platform for you to showcase your research findings, innovations, and the technological solutions you’ve developed over the course of the program. This is not only an opportunity to refine your presentation skills but also to share your insights with your peers, mentors, family, and the broader academic community.

While your focus will be on pushing the boundaries of technology, we also believe in the importance of a well-rounded experience. During your stay, you’ll have the chance to explore the beauty of Iowa through organized educational tours and team-building activities that foster camaraderie. We hope you’ll both excel in your research and gain a holistic understanding of the vibrant community that surrounds you.

Hosted by VRAC at Iowa State University, the SPIRE-EIT REU program promises an unforgettable journey of learning, discovery, and personal growth. We invite you to embrace this opportunity to push your boundaries, expand your horizons, and create a lasting impact on the field of human-computer interaction.

Get ready to embark on a summer of innovation, exploration, and growth with the SPIRE-EIT REU Program. Welcome to Iowa State University’s VRAC family!

For questions or additional information, please contact:

SPIRE-EIT REU Coordinator


  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program
  • Be and remain an undergraduate student in good standing.

Students selected to participate in the program will receive housing, a meal plan, and a stipend of $7,000 for the summer. The program will also contribute towards their travel.

Notifications of acceptance begins (April)

Declined applicants notified by (May 1st)

Overview of the 2023 SPIRE-EIT REU program

Previous REU programs at VRAC


The study of the relationship between humans and increasingly powerful, portable, interconnected and ubiquitous computers has become one of the most rapidly growing and significant fields of technical investigation. Interdisciplinary in the extreme, this emerging field will have an impact on nearly every area of human endeavor. There exists a need to specifically train students in this burgeoning area, and we hold a strong commitment to train students to be the best and the brightest. We feel that involving students in cutting-edge research is the best way to prepare future engineers, scientists, and artists to work at the ever more present interface between humans and computers.

The program is a ten-week undergraduate internship where students work collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams, receive core training, and gain hands-on research experience with emerging interface technologies. Interns accepted into this program receive on-campus housing and a meal plan, as well as a stipend.

Learn how to run a successful REU program for your institution! The following site was developed from the 2017 NSF CISE REU New PI’s meeting and serves as a guide to orient and direct new REU sites.