Felix Duvallet

PhD student, CMU Robotics Institute

RI-Meta seminar

This new seminar series covers a variety of high-level (meta) topics that we all do as robotics researchers. The primary audience is all current students, but everyone is invited.

We hope cover a range of topic such as:

  • Finding a research problem
  • Giving presentations
  • Navigating the job market
  • Writing papers
  • Programming for researchers
  • Time management for students
  • etc...

Help out!

Speak: Do you have something you're passionate about? Let me know, we'd love to hear about it.

Help: Are you able to organize a talk? Help out with snacks? Spend a few minutes with setup? Let me know.

List of talks

Writing Good Code (Jessica Austin).
Wednesday July 2, 2014. 3pm, NSH 1305.
Slides are available.

In this talk, we'll learn what sets good code apart from bad, and some basic best practices so your code is well-structured, less buggy, and easier to modify and reuse. Also, since good code and well-tested code are usually one and the same, we'll spend some time covering the basics of writing unit tests.

The format will be roughly 45 minutes of lecture, followed by a 30-45 minute workshop where we'll practice what we've learned. If you plan on attending the workshop, bring a laptop with MATLAB installed (any version is ok).

About Jessica: Before coming to CMU, I spent 5 years working as a developer, tester, and dev-ops engineer at ThoughtWorks and GrubHub. I hope some of what I've learned in industry will be helpful for you on your academic projects!


Making and giving good research talks (Siddhartha Srinivasa).
Wednesday May 28, 2014. 4pm. NSH 1305.
Slides are available.

Disseminating good research is often as important as creating good research. I will present some collected wisdom and share my personal experiences on making and giving research talks.


Finding and Running with a PhD Thesis Topic (Sanjiv Singh).
Monday April 28, 2014.
Slides are available.

For most, finding a viable thesis topic is a singular experience. It must be cutting edge but it must fit within a large set of constraints dictated by pragmatics. While you might work on a research team, your own ideas must be front and center in a Phd thesis. While your advisor might help you with organizing principles and background, he or she can't (or shouldn't) hand you a pre packed set of problems to solve. Understandably, a significant question has to do with how to get started and how to proceed with promising ideas.
In my talk I will summarize the process that I go through with students on the process of finding, iterating on, and running with a thesis topic. I will explain how this process is an example of the fact that the artifacts of science are quite different from the process of science.