Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) Directory

The FRAP Directory allows students to identify UCSB faculty who are looking for undergraduate students to participate in their research projects or creative activities. Please use the links below to find opportunities by discipline. Students, if your desired discipline is not listed, please contact the Undergraduate Research Initiatives office at 805-893-3090 or urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu for assistance. Faculty, if you would like to post your research or creative activity opportunity, please complete the online submission form.


Nick Nidzieko

Ellison 5830

Research Project

The measurements collected by autonomous underwater vehicles are susceptible to contamination by surface waves, as the inertial response of the vehicle is different from the wave orbital velocities causing those motions. While this poses a problem for some fine-scale measurements, it also presents an opportunity to use data from the vehicle's accelerometers to estimate surface wave statistics (e.g. wave height, direction, and period). In this project, we will analyze existing data sets from previous AUV missions in a range of environments to derive a model (algorithm) for predicting wave parameters from vehicle state sensors. This model will then be tested over several missions in local waters.

Undergraduate Contribution

The student will compile and analyze the accelerometer data from the existing AUV missions, as well as locating, compiling, and analyzing wave data from publicly available sources (e.g. NDBC/NOAA) and instruments deployed concurrently with some AUV missions. The student will then plan and assist in conducting missions to validate the wave model. Results will be written up and submitted to a journal, with the expectation that the student will be the lead author of the publication.


Strong computational background, with an interest in learning and/or applying spectral analysis methods to study ocean surface wave phenomena.

Libe Washburn

4306 MSRB

Research Project

In this project we are studying the coastal ocean using robotic vehicles. These vehicles use new, low-cost technologies for guidance, positioning, and other operations required for making measurements in the coastal ocean. For example, we use robotic quadrotor drones for multiple purposes including: (1) calibration of radar systems that we use to measure ocean surface currents; (2) collection of water samples for ocean acidification studies. Another example is a robotic boat for measuring ocean currents and surface water properties. A team of undergraduate mechanical engineering students built a prototype during two years ago. Since then we have been conducting sea trials to learn more about its performance in a range of ocean conditions. We will continue development of the boat and its sea trials in the coming year.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates work on a variety of design and development efforts related to these projects. For example, students are improving the design of quad-rotor drones for use over the coastal ocean. Other ongoing efforts are to develop new payloads for the quad-rotors and the robotic boat. Undergraduate students have worked on a lightweight sampling bottle to be carried by quad-rotor drones that can be tripped automatically to collect water samples. Undergraduates also participate in a broad range of activities for making measurements in the coastal ocean. Undergraduates currently working in the lab are mechanical engineering students, but students from other majors are welcome. Students perform "hands-on" work for various projects and have opportunities to learn new technologies. A particular focus of the lab has been the use of 3-D printing for fabricating parts used in many of our development efforts.


1. The main requirement is the desire to learn new things and participate in creative design and development projects.
2. Experience with robotics technology is desirable, but not essential.
3. The ability to work and learn both independently and in small groups is important.
4. Experience with programs such as MATLAB and Solid Works is desirable, but not essential.
5. Some experience using hand tools is important.