Frequently Asked Questions

Why CSAIL at MIT?

CSAIL is home to over 1,500 people, 900+ active projects, 60 research groups, approximately 1,000 graduate students and 100 postdoctoral researchers. CSAIL has brought the world many advances including: timesharing computing, text-to-speech, much of the underlying technology of the Arpanet, graphical user interfaces, the robotic arm, email, the fax machine and the video game. Entire new industries have formed from the launch of CSAIL innovations. Connecting your organization with CSAIL will provide a front row seat to the development of the latest disruptive technologies in computer science and artificial intelligence. Industry funding through Alliances addresses a critical need to keep research advancing. Without it, the innovation that it takes to make the next groundbreaking discovery may not happen.

What areas of research does CSAIL focus on?

The work in the lab includes robotics, natural language processing, machine learning, computer vision, cryptography, algorithms, architecture, networks, systems, web science, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, computational biology and more. You can find the latest research and impact areas here: www.csail.mit.edu/research

What is CSAIL Alliances?

CSAIL Alliances is the department within CSAIL responsible for connecting industry to the lab. Depending on your goals, there is a program that addresses your company’s needs, offers a framework for connection and fosters relationships across the lab. There are many different programs within Alliances:

What is CAP?

CAP is the CSAIL Alliance Program, one of the programs that makes up Alliances.

How does the CSAIL Alliance Program work? Benefit to my company?

Membership in the CSAIL Alliance Program enables industry to connect to CSAIL faculty researchers, students, emerging new technologies and startups. The program’s many benefits include immersion in our ecosystem through: 1:1 meetings with faculty researchers, tech talks, seminars, guest lectures, tech workshops, startup meet-ups, research insights, online courses, annual meeting and student poster sessions, lab visits, curated content via the members-only website and newsletters, as well as conferences.

CSAIL Alliances connects your company to the main areas industry looks to align with academia: cutting-edge research, student talent, emerging new technologies, professional development learning (with significant member discounts) and startup connections. The benefit to your company will depend on your goals and objectives. Benefits range from staying informed of the latest technology advances and student recruitment, to talent development with MIT courses, research partnerships, access to the some of the world’s leading creators of disruptive new technologies, connecting with startups to ignite innovation and more.

What does CAP include?

CAP is the CSAIL Alliance Program. It is an engagement program within the CSAIL Alliances department at MIT. CAP has 3 levels of engagement:

  1. Student Engagement
  2. Affiliate
  3. Partner

Each has a different set of benefits to address its focus:

  • Student Engagement is focused on recruiting.
  • Affiliate includes recruiting, research connections and broad access across the lab.
  • Partner includes all of the Affiliate benefits as well as specific benefits for startup connections, initiative alignment and thought leadership.
How does an Initiative differ from CAP? Benefit my company?

Strategic research initiatives at CSAIL provide pooled funding from member companies for multiple research projects. The initiatives are formed around a topic area (ex. AI, FinTech etc.).  They are created when the research in lab aligns with challenges in industry.  Each member company holds a seat on the executive board. The board meets with researchers and discusses the technological challenges, industry needs and research impact. From these discussions, problem statements are formed with input from the industry members. Those problem statements are sent to the whole lab (120 researchers) who respond with proposals.  The board then reviews proposals. In many initiatives, the board works with their internal teams to rank the proposals in terms of which are most compelling to address present challenges and provide input on which projects to fund.  Generally 5-10 projects are funded each year.  All the benefits of CAP Affiliate are also included for initiatives PLUS, members at the initiative level can attend all the talks, meetings and workshops of the other initiatives for broad connections (but only a seat on the board of the initiative of which the company is a member).

Professional Programs

Members are entitled to significant discounts on MIT professional programs. For CSAIL programs, members receive a discount of 20%, for Sloan Executive Education 15% and for MIT Professional Education through the School of Engineering 10%. CSAIL professional courses are 100% online and address topics covered in the lab (ex. AI and Business Applications, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning, Human Computer Interaction and more). For a list of current courses and programs, visit: Events & Professional Programs.

How does the visiting industry research program work? Process, housing, visa, cost?

The Visiting Industry Researcher Program is open to CSAIL Alliance member companies only.  It is a unique opportunity to have an industry-based research scientist/engineer embedded in the lab and work side-by-side with PhD students and faculty for a period of 6-months or 1-year. This is an MIT appointment and requires the candidate for the Visiting Industry Researcher role to meet both education and experience requirements, as well as interview with the proposed host faculty. If the candidate meets all the criteria, the proposed faculty host will request the appointment from the CSAIL Director. If approved, the CSAIL Director will send the candidate a formal offer letter for the appointment. This program requires a separate agreement to be signed by the company and MIT, as well as an Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreement (IPIA) signed by the visiting industry researcher. Your Client Relations Coordinator will help you through the process. The cost is $90,000, which covers all the MIT fees and visa, if necessary. Expenses for food, lodging and incidentals are borne by the visiting researcher’s company.

Do you have to be a member to sponsor research?

At CSAIL, if you know a researcher and are interested in sponsoring a project with him/her, you can work with that researcher directly. Most companies work through the Alliances team to identify and connect with the appropriate researcher. The Alliances team can be very helpful in not only helping to identify researchers in the correct subject area but also those that have bandwidth that aligns with your timeline.

What about IP?

The aim of MIT’s policy on patents, copyrights, and other Intellectual Property is to make available Institute technology to industry and others, and as such, research findings and results (including open source code) are made publicly available. Sponsored research agreements are handled through MIT's Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and include a formal statement of work, duration and a budget. Sponsors usually receive advanced access to the newly invented IP and favorable licensing terms.

Which program best aligns with my goals?

To best understand which program aligns with the goals of your company, please contact the Alliances team. Plugging into all CSAIL has to offer will inspire new ideas, provide understanding on ‘the state-of-the-art’ across many technical disciplines, enable a view into the ‘future of computing’ and help you make the right connections to get there. In general, the chart below may be broadly helpful.

Which program best aligns with my goals:

CSAIL Alliances industry program connections


For a full description of all the benefits, please contact the Alliances team at: alliances@csail.mit.edu.

Do you do tours?

Member companies are welcome to schedule tours of the lab with sufficient notice. We are a working lab, and unfortunately, we do not do public tours. If you are interested in a virtual tour, please visit our CSAIL Virtual Lab Tour.

Do you have to be a member to host a recruiting event in the lab?

Many companies seek to recruit top talent, and at CSAIL, we have some of the brightest students in the world. Events at CSAIL must be sponsored and hosted by a CSAIL department. And, per lab policy, all lab space can only be used for CSAIL business. Consequently, only members can host recruiting events or other talks in CSAIL.

What is the process of signing up and becoming a member?

Companies engage with the Managing Director or Assistant Director to ensure a mutual good fit and program alignment.  After signing the membership agreement, your company will be assigned a Client Relations Coordinator (CRC). Your CRC will reach out to schedule an on-boarding call or visit where he/she will explain how to get the most out of your membership. Topics include: an overview of the Alliances team, how to signup/use the website, upcoming events, courses and discounts, student profile book and more.

How long is the commitment to be a member of CSAIL Alliances?

Annual commitment for memberships range from two years to five years depending on the membership level and program.

If you are interested in learning more about connecting with the lab...

Please contact the Alliances team at:

Email: alliances@csail.mit.edu
Phone: (617) 324-6745