What is ARCS?

By combining the knowledge, experience, and talents of faculty and students from across CSUN, including Science, Technology and Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Business, Arts, Humanities and Mathematics, The Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) is a NASA-sponsored multidisciplinary university center of excellence.

Our vision is to be a global leader in education, research and commercialization regarding increasingly autonomous (IA) systems. We converge in our desire to research and advance our students’ education and together create a new trajectory to make a societal impact and improve our world.

Everything you need to know about becoming an

ARCS Student Fellow or Student Associate:

Our 2024 Fellowship/Associateship Application is Now Open.

The application period starts on SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 at 11:59 PM and applicant review begins NOVEMBER 3rd, 2023.
Priority is given to students who submit their application by November 3rd.

For more information on both opportunities, please see the FAQ below.



What is ARCS?
The Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) is a NASA-sponsored Center of Excellence at CSUN, which utilizes transdisciplinary research that involves deep collaborations and integration among physical, social, and behavioral sciences (S); technology and engineering (T); entrepreneurship and business (E); arts (A); humanities (H); and mathematics (M).

Who supports ARCS? We work closely with NASA and partners throughout multiple industries.

Why autonomy?
Increasingly Autonomous (IA) systems cover the full spectrum of technology with autonomous features, from basic systems (like cruise control) to complex systems that are able to adapt and learn (like Artificial Intelligence, or AI). ARCS students work within autonomy concentrations:

  • Improving Social Medicine with Autonomy
  • Human Machine Teamwork with Explainable AI
  • Social and Moral Autonomy
  • Trustable Autonomy
  • Autonomy Literacy
  • Autonomy for Manufacturing and Construction
  • Autonomy for Business and Law
  • Autonomy for Sustainability
  • Commercialization
  • Terrestrial Systems and Climate Change

What is ARCS’ mission?

ARCS’ mission is to create opportunities in STEAHM research for underrepresented and underserved students and faculty to become high-impact explorers, learners, entrepreneurs, and leaders in autonomy research and STEAHM-related fields.


Level of commitment

  • To quote our director: “We look for curious, passionate students and it doesn’t matter to us about where you are now; we care more about who you are when you complete our program.”  
  • We seek highly motivated and dedicated students willing to be involved in research and creative activity for at least 1 year.
  • We are looking for students who have a sense of personal vision, curiosity, and passion for learning and becoming leaders.
  • By the time they complete our program, our team members are articulate, determined, and goal oriented.  

Students from all disciplines

  • ARCS is seeking students from all disciplines, majors, and career paths because at the core of our center is the concept of Convergence Research that requires a deep integration across disciplines.
  • As experts from different disciplines pursue common research challenges, their knowledge, theories, methods, data, research communities and languages converge. New frameworks, paradigms or even disciplines may be formed to facilitate interactions across multiple communities.


  • All CSUN majors and disciplines can apply. We embrace multidisciplinary teamwork. We prefer Junior to Senior level standing, but highly motivated Freshmen and Sophomores can be involved as well.

Community College

  • If you are an incoming transfer student or are planning to attend CSUN within the next year, we encourage you to apply.
  • If you are seeking opportunities for participation while still at your community college we are offering one fellow position to a College of the Canyons student per semester that allows the student to receive funding and internship credit for their Associate Degree program.

Graduate students

  • All CSUN graduate students can apply from any department or program. We are seeking and will give favorable consideration to graduate students who wish to use ARCS related research as the focus of their graduate thesis.

US Citizenship

  • While we strive to make projects available to non-citizens, some NASA projects may be limited to US citizens.  We will always communicate any limitations for non-citizens in particular NASA projects and add projects with other research partners where US citizenship does not exclude participation.
How does participating in ARCS help you?

Career Opportunities
ARCS’ goal is to provide a career pathway to NASA/JPL as well as other ARCS partner organizations (e.g., Medtronic, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Aerospace Corporation), small companies (e.g., American GNC, Rocket Studio), and government agencies (e.g., Army and Air Force). ARCS knowledge and skills are transferable to many occupations, and the Co-I’s and staff will provide mentorship and guidance to help you discover educational or career opportunities.
Examples of possible career areas: 

  • Exploration
  • Aeronautics
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Human Factors
  • Sustainability 
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Science Communication
  • Technology Start-ups
  • Game Design
  • Biomedical and Biotechnology  
  • Science Education
  • Post-Baccalaureate Education
    • Master and PhD Programs

Here are some quotes from current and past students: 

“Thanks to ARCS, I received an internship opportunity to use my user experience and research skills as a designer for a center at JPL.”
Ashley Santiago, Web Designer/Developer, ARCS Fellow

“ARCS has been the ultimate stepping stone for me to reach greater heights. The Fellowship has given me the confidence to practice the knowledge and skills I gained at CSUN and apply them to research. Because of ARCS, I was given the opportunity to define my future goals and work with NASA Engineers towards making a change in the world.”
Sarkis S. Mikaelian, Computer Science, ARCS Fellow

“I value the opportunities in working with NASA and JPL specialists to see the potential for a bigger and brighter future.”
Neil Thompsett, Anthropology, ARCS Fellow

What is an ARCS Student Fellow?

A Fellow:

  • Develops and implements a Convergence Research Project
  • Dedicates a minimum of 10 hours per week to the Research Project
  • Engages with NASA/JPL scientists to conduct research.
  • Takes advantage of internships and seeks employment with our NASA, JPL, and other partners
  • Publishes or presents research findings
  • Takes advantage of competitions
  • Seeks funding, entrepreneurship, and commercialization opportunities
  • Maintains a 3.0 or better GPA

As Convergence Research Leaders, ARCS Fellows:

  • Are committed to the ARCS mission, vision, and values  
  • Uphold ARCS standards of excellence, ideals and culture  
  • Can articulate a clear vision of convergence research 
  • Work collaboratively as part of an interdisciplinary cohort of Fellows
  • Participate in ARCS meetings, seminars, colloquia, and other events and activities.
  • Maintain high academic standing.
  • Effectively communicate and be engaged with ARCS mentors, staff, and other fellows  
  • Actively pursue at least one professional conference presentation and lead the writing of a conference/journal paper.

Fellow funding:

Funding will be provided to support Fellows in: 

  • Conducting approved research or creative work under the director of a CSUN faculty Co-I and a NASA, JPL, or Industry partner within a 1-year period, and
  • An internship with one of our partners

Fellow stipends over a 1-year period are:

  • $9,000 for graduate students
  • $7,300 for undergraduate students

Note that this stipend may affect your financial aid eligibility. You should discuss the possible impact with your financial aid advisor.

  • Other funding opportunities may be available through additional ARCS projects and initiatives.
What is an ARCS Student Associate?

You also can be an ARCS Associate who:

  • Participates in research projects under the guidance of Fellows and Co-I mentor(s)
  • Is committed to 5-15 hrs per week based on faculty Co-I’s requirements
  • Is expected to actively participate in preparing and making presentations to senior researchers and scientists (e.g., asking questions, providing feedback, etc.)
  • Will receive favorable opportunity to advance to an ARCS Fellowship

How can I become an Associate?

  • Speak to a Co-I in your related research field as criteria for involvement as an Associate varies.
  • For a full list of Co-I’s please visit
How do I Learn more and Apply to be an ARCS Fellow or Associate?

How do I learn more or apply to be an ARCS Fellow?

  • Complete the ARCS Fellow application form ARCS Applications
  • Attend an in-person Open House Recruitment Event if/when applicable. 
  • Schedule an appointment with a fellow or Co-I in your research field. For a full list of Co-I’s please visit
  • Attend a seminar/colloquia/speaker session – CLICK HERE