SPARX: Support Program to foster Academic Relationships and eXchange

NEWS: The call for SPARX proposals is now open (click here) ! Deadline for mentor applications is March 15th 2024.

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) is proud to introduce SPARX, a reimagination of the previous initiative on Development Country Faculty Engagement Program, focused on nurturing academic excellence and research collaboration in the field of Robotics and Automation. SPARX connects faculty members from developing countries and countries at risk with distinguished RAS mentors to elevate their research and publishing efforts in RAS conferences and journals.

SPARX offers a $10,000 funding opportunity for selected mentor-mentee teams, spanning about two years. This financial support aids collaborative research, conference participation, and project-related expenses. It is intended to empower academic contributions in Robotics and Automation. 


IEEE has identified developing countries based on data released by the World Bank. Priority for acceptance to this program will be given to applicants from the countries marked with an asterisk on this page:

Countries at risk are identified through established programs such as Scholars at Risk:



  1. SPARX Proposal Submission: Mentors submit their proposal via a Smart Sheet, outlining objectives, topics, potential outcomes, and means for faculty engagement.

  2. Mentee Application: Faculty members from eligible developing countries apply to specific sentor proposals that align with their research interests and expertise.

  3. Evaluation and Mentor Selection: Each selected mentor, after reviewing applications, selects the mentee most suitable for their proposal. This decision is based on the alignment of the mentee's skills, experience, and research interests with the mentors objectives.

  4. Research Collaboration: Upon selection of the mentee, a formal agreement is established. The mentee engages in cross-country research under the mentor's guidance. The team responsibilities include:

·       Establish regular on-line meetings (at least once a month)

·       Become involved in the mentor’s research activities, including group meetings and seminars

·       Create or engage with a local RAS student chapter

·       Visit mentor’s lab (if possible) and regularly join mentor’s lab meetings

·       Write co-authored RAS conference/journal papers (with mentor) based on research

·       Write a paper as a lead author towards the end of the mentorship period

·       Attend an RAS conference to present your paper

·       Establish collaboration with researchers during RAS conferences

The collaboration culminates with the submission of a joint report and a feedback form. Successful completion is recognized with IEEE RAS certificates and the final travel grant to present the joint work at a conference.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Mentors as well as mentees must be RAS members.
  • Mentors as well as mentees must be guaranteed to be employed at a university or research institution in for the duration of the collaboration.
  • Mentees should have prior research experience in Robotics or Automation.


Application Process:

As outlined above, the application is a three-step process: 

  1. Interested mentors are requested to submit their project proposals on this form.
  2. Interested mentees will be able to apply for individual proposals via an on-line platform.
  3. Teams are formed through a match making process, bringing together mentors and mentees with compatible expertise and interests.

Easy Links