The Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) offers a 10-week summer research program for undergraduates in interactive virtual experiences. A multidisciplinary research institute affiliated with the University of Southern California, the ICT was established in 1999 to combine leading academic researchers in computing with the creative talents of Hollywood and the video game industry. Having grown to encompass a total of 170 faculty, staff, and students in a diverse array of fields, the ICT represents a unique interdisciplinary community brought together with a core unifying mission: advancing the state-of-the-art for creating virtual experiences so compelling that people will react as if they were real.

Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of ICT research, we welcome applications from students in computer science, as well as many other fields, such as psychology, art/animation, interactive media, linguistics, and communications. Undergraduates will join a team of students, research staff, and faculty in one of several labs focusing on different aspects of interactive virtual experiences. In addition to participating in seminars and social events, students will also prepare a final written report and present their projects to the rest of the institute at the end of summer research fair.

This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

For questions or additional information, please contact

Research Labs
When you apply, we will ask you to rank your top three interests from the labs listed below. We encourage applicants to explore the lab websites to learn more about the individual research activities of each group.

MxR Lab
Research areas: virtual reality, interactive media, human-computer interaction, gestural user interfaces, spatial illusions, human perception
Supervisor: Evan Suma
Graphics Lab
Research areas: image-based lighting, 3D scanning, surface reflectometry, image-based modeling, 3D displays
Supervisor: Andrew Jones
Multicomp Lab
Research areas: human communication, machine learning, facial and body gestures, verbal content, prosodic signals
Supervisors: Louis-Phillippe Morency and Stefan Scherer
Natural Language Dialogue Group
Research areas: human-human and human-machine dialogue, dialogue management, speech recognition, natural language understanding, natural language generation, expressive conversational speech synthesis, information retrieval
Supervisors: David Traum, Ron Artstein, Kenji Sagae, Kallirroi Georgila
Narrative Group
Research areas: Narrative analysis and generation, storytelling in social media, Common sense reasoning, triangle behavior
Supervisor: Andrew Gordon
Computational Emotion Group
Research areas: affective computing, emotion and decision making, emotion in human-machine interaction, persuasive technology, serious games
Supervisor: Jonathan Gratch
Social Simulation Group
Research areas: Modeling and simulation of real-world social scenarios, multiagent systems, theory of mind, decision theory
Supervisor: David Pynadath
Character Animation and Simulation
Research areas: human modeling and simulation, crowd behavior and simulation, models of motion and behavior, animation, physics-based animation
Supervisor: Ari Shapiro

Location and Housing
The ICT facility is located in the Playa Vista community of West Los Angeles, about 10 miles west of the main USC campus, and includes a 150-seat theater, game room, and gym. There are numerous restaurants and stores within walking distance, including the Westfield Culver City mall, and the beach is only a 10 minute drive away. The university also provides free shuttle service between the institute and the downtown USC campus.

Since ICT is located in its own separate facility, summer students typically live in apartments near the institute rather than on-campus dorms. We will direct accepted students to a number of resources for locating nearby housing and provide a stipend to support the cost of living.


  • Participate in a unique multidisciplinary community that combines academic research with the creative talents of Hollywood and the video game industry.
  • Work with some of the leading researchers in human-computer interaction, computer graphics, and virtual humans.
  • Receive a total of $5000 over the ten week program, paid as monthly stipends (at end of each month).
  • Receive an additional $2800 stipend for housing and living expenses.
  • Travel will be reimbursed up to $600 for students living 95 miles or more outside of the Los Angeles area.


  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is required.
  • Students must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program.
  • Students must not have completed an undergraduate degree prior to the summer program.

Important Dates

  • The application period for summer 2014 has now passed.
  • Notification of acceptance begins: March 1, 2014
  • Notification of declined applicants: March 31, 2014
  • Start Date: June 3, 2014
  • End Date: August 8, 2014

How to Apply
Step 1: The application period for summer 2014 has now passed.
Step 2: Submit Additional Materials
Email the following materials to

  • The most recent unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate institutions you have attended.
  • A one page personal statement. This may include your research interests and how you came to be interested in them, your previous research experiences, your reasons for wanting to participate in the research at the ICT, and how this participating in this experience might better prepare you to meet your future goals.

Step 3: Recommendation Letter
Please direct a faculty member to email a letter of recommendation directly to