Prospective Graduate Students

Current opportunities

Thanks for your interest in our lab! ICONS Lab is actively looking for self-motivated and talented graduate students, preferably but not limited to Ph.D. students / researchers, in the areas of cyber-physical systems, autonomous systems, and machine learning application in control systems. Multiple funded Ph.D. positions might be available, supported via Research Assistantships and/or Teaching Assistantships. Students with either EE or CS background are highly encouraged to apply.

Please read on for more information about the research topics, expectations, and how to contact Prof. Nghiem to inquire about opportunities.

Research topics

We have broad interests in the field of intelligent control systems, especially in interdisciplinary approaches at the intersection of control, optimization, computing, and machine learning. Students / researchers working in our lab have great flexibility in choosing research topics of mutual interest. If you have some research topics or ideas that you are particularly interested in pursuing and you think can become fruitful in our lab, do not hesitate to contact Prof. Nghiem to propose and discuss them. We also have exciting research topics that always need your talents.

Interested students should refer to our publication list (or Google Scholar profile) and research page to get a general understanding of our research interests before contacting us.


Candidates are expected to have:

  • a solid background in EE or CS,
  • a strong motivation towards academic excellence,
  • and a genuine interest in research and learning to research.

Any of the following (with evidence) would be a big plus:

  • Published research articles as first author.
  • Graduated with a Master Degree from accredited colleges and universities.
  • Have experience in machine learning, including practical implementation in Python, Julia, Matlab, and other programming languages.
  • Have experience in optimization theory, algorithms, and programming tools (some examples are CVX/Yalmip in Matlab, CVXPY/Pyomo in Python, JuMP/Convex in Julia).
  • Have a strong background in applied mathematics or control theory.
  • Have experience in software engineering and strong programming skills in languages such as C, C++, Matlab, Python, Julia, Mathematica, etc.

How to apply

Prof. Nghiem is always excited to talk to students about new projects and ideas, especially if:

  • You know something about our projects and/or papers;
  • You have perused our papers and/or run our code and found some (major) issues or ideas to improve our results;
  • You come with your own idea related to anything we work on.

For current students at NAU

If you are a current NAU graduate student and are interested in working in our lab, send an email to Prof. Nghiem to briefly introduce yourself (including your background and interests), and he’ll be happy to discuss about open projects and opportunities.

For prospective students

If you are interested in applying for a graduate student position, please send a brief email to Prof. Nghiem to introduce yourself and express your interest. Don’t forget to include the following information:

  • CV: be brief (should not be longer than 2 pages unless you have a long list of publications) and include your Google Scholar page in case you have any publications.
  • Your academic and research interests.
  • Why do you want to join our lab?
  • Whether you have taken GRE and TOEFL/IELTS (if you are an international student) and your scores (the percentile scores, not the absolute scores, especially for the Quantitative score).
  • Previous and current university-level transcripts: optional but if you have your transcripts, attach them to your email so I can understand your background better.
  • Any information and documents that you think are absolutely important about your background that is relevant to our lab, for example an important achievement, an important publication you want me to know about, important references (e.g., a professor I know refers you), important code samples. Be selective and include only important information.
  • Optional but could be crucial for Ph.D. applicants: a research paper or project of our group that you are interested in, have read, and have valuable comments or ideas to provide.

For more information about the application requirements and process, the school, and why Flagstaff is a great place to live, please go to our school’s information page for prospective graduate students.

Due to the number of application emails he receives, the PI is only able to respond to applicants who appear to be a good match.