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WPI’s PhD in Robotics Engineering is one of the few worldwide where students can earn a doctorate in the field. We take robotics seriously, yet our approach is creative and innovative. Our world-class facilities and industry-leading faculty encourage originality and allow candidates to lead novel, cutting-edge research that crosses disciplines.

The open atmosphere builds collaborative opportunities where students generate solutions that often lead to breakthroughs in robotics technology. And WPI’s location in the heart of the robotics industry opens doors to research, collaboration, internships, and networking with the world’s leading robotics companies.



The Robotics Engineering doctoral program is groundbreaking and internationally known for its outstanding faculty and advanced research projects. A small student-to-faculty ratio means students work side by side with world-class professors who are exploring everything from medical robotic devices and multi-robot systems to the ethical implications of human-robot interaction. ​

Course work across disciplines includes computer science, electrical and computer engineering, mathematics, and mechanical engineering and gives candidates depth and breadth in robotics expertise. Students may enter with a BS or an MS degree and will propose a plan of study and potential research leading up to dissertation studies.

The New Frontier of Swarming Robots



Faculty research is wide ranging and involves students in every step of research and exploration, so PhD students have nearly endless choices. Working in this wide-ranging field means you’re always innovating on exciting new problems and challenges in real time. The energy in our labs is contagious and breeds revolutionary approaches to robotics.

WPI’s robotics faculty research is supported through federal and industry funding. Some areas of faculty specialization:


As a robotics graduate student, you’ll work side-by-side with faculty on research that pushes the boundaries of what seems possible—whether it’s developing robotic medical instruments or fine-tuning the smallest, multi-robot swarm robotics.


WPI has a long history as a pioneer in robotics engineering education, giving it a depth and breadth of knowledge. IT was the first university to offer BS through PhD degrees in robotics, and its comprehensive curriculum reflects that deep experience.


As a multidisciplinary field, robotics researchers collaborate to extend their impact.


Robotics impacts humanity in levels as varied as manufacturing to the most delicate surgery. A degree in robotics gives you plentiful job opportunities.


You’ll develop varied skills working within the robotics field. Depending on goals and interests, students can write the software to operate robots, build robots, or explore the ethical implications of robots in a complex human world.


New England is considered the global epicenter for the robotics industry. Opportunities to contribute to important advances in the field exist in nearby academia, established organizations and industries, and start-ups.


The robotics curriculum is purposefully varied. The industry is multilayered, so students take classes that have a business, systems engineering, or entrepreneurial approach.
  • Assistive and Augmentative Robotics
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Kinematics, Dynamics, and Control
  • Manipulation
  • Medical and Surgical Robotics
  • Perception
  • Motion Planning
  • Multi-robot Systems
  • Navigation
  • Origami-inspired Foldable Robot Design and Fabrication
  • Real-time Motion Planning
  • Robot Learning
  • Soft/Flexible Robotic Systems
  • Tactile Sensing

The extensive robotics labs and facilities at WPI cater to the various interests and the collaborative and independent research projects of students. All around campus, students pursue advances using the latest technology in labs outfitted for robots for medical, social, military, communication, and even artistic uses. 

Faculty Areas of Research        Research Facilities

Faculty Profiles

Faculty Profiles

Jing  Xiao

Jing Xiao

Professor and Director of the RBE Program

My research spans robotics, haptics, multi-modal perception, and artificial intelligence, at the intersection of computer science and engineering. There are two highly related themes in my robotics research: one is the focus on “contact sport”, i.e., the contact and interaction between a robot or a part/tool it holds and the environment, and the other is real-time adaptiveness of robots to uncertainty and uncertain changes in an environment based on perception.

Cagdas  Onal

Cagdas Onal

Associate Professor-Engineering

An integral part of a rewarding academic career is being an educator. It is a wonderful opportunity to work with students and guide their development to fulfill their potential. I enjoy teaching the fundamentals of robotics engineering, science and technology as well as training students in advanced independent research. I aim to teach students about research-based thinking and problem solving, to give them a real career choice to determine their future in further research or the industry.

Berk  Calli

Berk Calli

Assistant Professor-Computer Science

Berk's research primarily focuses on problems related to robotic manipulation, which is a key functionality largely missing from the current state of the art in robotics for unstructured environments, including homes, modern warehouses, and collaborative manufacturing stations. He develops multi-modal robotic manipulation strategies mainly focusing on the role of vision feedback for coping with uncertainties of unstructured environments.

Loris  Fichera

Loris Fichera

Assistant Professor-Computer Science

My research interests are in the application of robotics and computer science to enhance medicine, and particularly surgery. What gets me out of bed in the morning is the prospect of helping doctors save lives and improve the quality of life of their patients. My students and I work side-to-side with clinical collaborators to create technology that presents a tangible clinical value – for instance, making an existing surgical procedure more accurate or enabling new procedures that are not feasible with current instrumentation.

Gregory S. Fischer

Gregory S. Fischer

Professor- Engineering

Professor Fischer is the William Smith Dean's Professor and a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Engineering with an appointment in Biomedical Engineering at WPI. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from Johns Hopkins University, where he was part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery. At WPI he has been an integral part of developing the Robotics Engineering program and teaches primarily junior-level and graduate courses in Robotics.

Jie  Fu

Jie Fu

Assistant Professor

My research leverages control theory, formal methods, and machine learning to construct adaptive, provably correct cyber-physical systems with respect to complex specifications. The challenges I am currently interested in include: reactive robotic systems under partial information and modeling uncertainty, multi-robot coordination, optimal control of hybrid systems, and design of adaptive semi-autonomous systems.

Carlo  Pinciroli

Carlo Pinciroli

Assistant Professor

The focus of my research is designing innovative tools for swarm robotics. I am developing Buzz, a programming language specifically designed for real-world robot swarms. During my Ph.D., I have designed ARGoS, which is currently the fastest general-purpose robot simulator in the literature. I am also working on swarm robotics solutions for disaster response scenarios, such as search-and-rescue and firefighting.

After Graduation