For Students

Thank you for your interest in the WISEST Lab and our research activities. I receive an overwhelming number of emails from prospective students who wish to join my research group, but I regret that I cannot reply to all of them. Because I know how important the emails to the students who send them, I have put some information to help answer the most common questions that I receive from prospective students. Please read this before sending me an email.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

For Students Applying to the UW-Madison Graduate Program

Are you hiring a new graduate student now or next fall?

The number of new students I will consider depends on the number of current students, funding availability, and other limitations that affect the effectiveness of my student mentoring. Generally, I try to hire one or two new graduate students each year.


I am applying to UW-Madison for graduate study. Can I join the WISEST Lab?

I receive an overwhelming number of emails during the application season (October through December), and I am not able to reply all email inquiries about position availability. All I can say is “Please apply first, and I will contact you if I find your application interesting.” However, there is some information to increase your chances of receiving my attention with a higher priority.

  • In the application form, list my name as faculty you are interested in working with. I first review the applications that have my name on the list, although I also carefully review other applications that do not. It is hard to find if I am mentioned only in the Statement of Purpose.
  • Our department has four research areas. I am in the “Computer Engineering” area. Select “Computer Engineering” as your general research area of interest in the application form. Applicants to other areas are not considered as my primary candidates.
  • In the Statement of Purpose, please be specific on why you are interested in my research group. Simply listing our research topics does not really help.

After submitting your application, send me a brief email with your CV. See above for what I want to see from your CV. Please don’t spam me with multiple emails. I will respond to your email if I am interested in your background. Please understand that it is practically impossible for me to reply to every email I receive from prospective students, especially during the application season.

Please note that admission decisions are made by our graduate admission committee, so (of course) I cannot “grant you admission” nor tell you anything about your chances of admission.


I am an undergraduate student at a different university. Can I do an internship?

UW-Madison has excellent programs for undergraduate students from other universities with/without financial support. Please check them out to see if you are eligible.

Even if you are not eligible for these programs, if you believe you are a good fit for our lab, please do not hesitate to contact me.


What undergraduate courses should I have taken to have the required background?

You should have done as many as possible of the following courses. Equivalent courses are offered in many different names in different institutions. Please refer to UW-Madison’s course description to see if you have taken the necessary courses.

  • Digital System Fundamentals (ECE 352)
  • Introduction to Microprocessor Systems (ECE 353)
  • Machine Organization and Programming (ECE 354)
  • Embedded Microprocessor System Design (ECE 453)
  • Mobile Computing Laboratory (ECE 454)

These high-level courses are also recommended:

  • Design System Design and Synthesis (ECE 551)
  • Introduction to Computer Architecture (ECE 552)
  • Digital Circuits and Components (ECE 555)
  • Design Automation of Digital Systems (ECE 556)

What hardware/software skills should I have?

I don’t expect that a candidate has the highest level of competence in all of these, but having as many experiences as possible will help you immediately participate in research.

Programming and HDL:

  • C (on embedded platforms)
  • Matlab
  • Mobile programming (Java/Objective-C)
  • Objective-oriented programming (C++/Java)
  • Python
  • Verilog (or VHDL)

Hardware design and simulation:

  • PCB design (Altium Designer/Cadence OrCAD)
  • SPICE

Course or research project that involves:

  • Using a microcontroller (e.g., Arduino)
  • Using an FPGA
  • Using a smartphone (as a computing platform)

For UW-Madison Students Looking for a Research Position

I am a current UW-Madison graduate student or already admitted to the UW-Madison graduate school. Can I join the WISEST Lab?

I want to have some technical interactions in person (e.g., independent research) for at least one semester before I decide to serve as an advisor. In order to start, please send me your CV in PDF format. Your CV needs to include the following:

  • Relevant undergraduate and graduate courses you took, with grades and course project description
  • Research experience (research papers, technical reports, and independent study projects)
  • Tools, skills, and programming languages (and level of your competence)
  • Your GPA, GRE, and TOEFL scores (although these are not important factors to me)

I recommend you attend our lab seminar series. We often have a lab seminar open to public to discuss papers recently published in top-tier conferences. Anyone is welcome to the seminar. Sign up here to receive seminar notices.


I am a current UW-Madison undergraduate student and interested in the research activities of the WISEST Lab.

UW-Madison undergraduate students are welcome to my research group anytime. We have many exciting projects that undergraduate students can contribute to and learn from. You can exercise your knowledge learnt in class and pick up new skills for advanced studies. If you have interest in and would like to learn more about various topics on embedded systems, including, but not limited to:

  • Embedded systems design and implementation
  • Programming and digital logic design
  • PCB design and prototyping
  • Measurement and data analysis

I will consider students who have a solid GPA, some advanced (500+) undergraduate coursework in relevant topics (see below for the list of relevant courses), and/or some course/research project experience. Generally, the junior year spring/summer will be ideal time to join our lab, but students in their sophomore or senior year can also be considered. Students who can participate for a long period are preferred. Standing out in my class would be the best way to get a chance to be involved in my research. If you are interested, please send me your CV and make an appointment to meet with me. See the answer above for what I would like to see from your CV. I understand not all of them are available for undergraduate students.

I recommend you attend our lab seminar series. We often have a lab seminar open to public to discuss papers recently published in top-tier conferences. Anyone is welcome to the seminar. Sign up here to receive seminar notices.


What undergraduate courses should I have taken to have the required background?

You should have done as many as possible of the following courses. Equivalent courses are offered in many different names in different institutions. Please refer to UW-Madison’s course description to see if you have taken the necessary courses.

  • Digital System Fundamentals (ECE 352)
  • Introduction to Microprocessor Systems (ECE 353)
  • Machine Organization and Programming (ECE 354)
  • Embedded Microprocessor System Design (ECE 453)
  • Mobile Computing Laboratory (ECE 454)

These high-level courses are also recommended:

  • Design System Design and Synthesis (ECE 551)
  • Introduction to Computer Architecture (ECE 552)
  • Digital Circuits and Components (ECE 555)
  • Design Automation of Digital Systems (ECE 556)

What hardware/software skills should I have?

I don’t expect that a candidate has the highest level of competence in all of these, but having as many experiences as possible will help you immediately participate in research.

Programming and HDL:

  • C (on embedded platforms)
  • Matlab
  • Mobile programming (Java/Objective-C)
  • Objective-oriented programming (C++/Java)
  • Python
  • Verilog (or VHDL)

Hardware design and simulation:

  • PCB design (Altium Designer/Cadence OrCAD)
  • SPICE

Course or research project that involves:

  • Using a microcontroller (e.g., Arduino)
  • Using an FPGA
  • Using a smartphone (as a computing platform)

For UW-Madison Students Needing a Reference Letter

I will be happy to write a reference letter for our great UW-Madison undergraduate and graduate students applying to a graduate program at UW-Madison or any other universities. However, I would like to write only strong, positive letters that will help you get admitted.

If you are applying to PhD programs, I can write a strong, positive letter if you:

  • Have at least a semester-long interaction with me through independent research (ECE 699),
  • Received an excellent grade or produced an outstanding project outcome in my graduate class (ECE 751), or
  • Published research papers in major conferences or journals.

If you are applying to MS programs, I can write a strong, positive letter if you:

  • Meet one of the criteria above, or
  • Received an excellent grade or produced an outstanding project outcome in my undergraduate class (ECE 353, 551).

An excellent grade typically means an “A”. Note that a letter that mentions an “AB” grade or below may not be considered particularly strong by admission committee.

If you believe you are eligible, please contact me sooner rather than later, at least 2 weeks before the first deadline, with your CV, transcript, and statement of purpose. If not, I strongly recommend you find someone who can write a strong, positive letter because a neutral letter will actually negatively impact your chances of getting admission.

Have more questions?

Feel free to send me an email (younghyun.kim@wisc.edu). I will try by best to reply as long as it is not answered on this page.