Urban Research Corps

The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation invites UChicago students with diverse academic backgrounds to participate in a new data science program called the Urban Research Corps (URC).


The URC is a research incubator that produces relevant insights about the fundamental processes driving urban change and develops tools to help build more sustainable, equitable, and connected cities. The URC combines the Mansueto Institute’s interdisciplinary approach with technology and data to build generalizable capabilities that accelerate the practice of sustainable urban development at the local and global scales.

URC participants will have the opportunity to design, develop, test and deploy computational methods to answer fundamental questions and design scalable tools. Members of the Corps will also have opportunities to co-author blogs and scientific articles; participate in open source tool development; gain cutting-edge technical experience; present findings at events, meetups, or conferences; and participate in the release of high-profile, public-facing content.

Example research projects include:

  • Mapping informal settlements and slums on a global scale and developing algorithms to improve street access in unplanned areas of rapidly urbanizing cities.
  • Devising a production-grade pipeline to estimate the reproduction rate of COVID-19, forecasting cases two weeks into the future, and evaluating the effectiveness of policy responses.
  • Examining how well transit, cars, bicycles, micromobility devices, and ride-hailing services affect the travel time to essential urban assets across neighborhoods.

Research Engineer
Deadline to apply: October 27, 2023

The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation is staffing a series of projects focused on developing and delivering technical solutions to academic and civic partners. As part of the work, the team will focus on urban research projects that may involve developing automated cloud based pipelines, packaging new data science methods, or applying existing open source tools to novel datasets. A core aspect of the work is to develop generalizable open-source tools that can scale and be adapted to a wide spectrum of contexts, especially those that apply to urban policy and research questions.

The role is at least 10 hours per week (on average) starting early Fall 2023, with the possibility to extend.

Required Qualifications:

  • Fluency / strong proficiency in Python, R, and SQL.
  • Seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree at the University of Chicago.
  • Experience working with cloud databases, web apps, and/or developing automated pipelines that involve data ingestion, standardization, and transformation of data.
  • Familiarity with cloud services (e.g., AWS and Netlify / Vercel).
  • Familiarity with JavaScript, HTML/HTML5, CSS and/or JSON.
  • Knowledge of software development practices, such as: version control; containerization / package management / virtual environments; unit testing; code review.
  • Some experience with structured, semi-structured, and/or unstructured data formats (e.g., Parquet, GeoJSON, Protocol-buffer Binary Format, vector-tile formats, database file format, and/or raster/GeoTIFF).
  • Experience with Linux-based systems, command line tools and shell scripting.
  • Eagerness to constantly learn, ask questions, share knowledge, and teach others.
  • Empathetic and self-aware mindset; express mutual respect, trust, and willingness to assist team members.
  • Ability to work in a dynamic environment where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration.
  • Ability to articulate technical barriers and proactively solicit help from team members.
  • Ability to work independently on the design and development of research methods.
  • Ability to scope the feasibility of unstructured research tasks; self-delegate and create personalized work plans; identify, evaluate, and apply existing solutions to avoid “reinventing-the-wheel.”
  • Capable of autodidactic learning from academic articles, self-guided tutorials, Stack Overflow, and package documentation.

We don’t expect every applicant to have mastered every skill or software area we’ve listed, so we urge you to apply if you’re interested and if some of the above applies to you. The hiring process will take place on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.


Class Level Eligibility:

All current UChicago students.

Benefits to the Program

Urban Research Corps participants will receive:

  • $26/hour pay rate, for up to 20 hours/week (40 hours during the Summer)
  • Supervision and mentorship from University of Chicago faculty and staff
  • Dedicated physical work space at the Mansueto Institute, depending on availability
  • Opportunity to work as part of an interdisciplinary cross functional research team
  • A supportive environment that encourages the development of new skills
  • Access to cloud and high performance computing resources
  • Opportunity to co-author blogs, reports, and scientific articles
  • Opportunity to create open source tools, software libraries, and publish new datasets
  • Experience using cloud-based frameworks and applying cutting edge techniques
  • Opportunity to present findings at events, meetups, or conferences
  • Opportunity to design public-facing interactive visualizations and web content
  • Opportunity to participate in dynamic research where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration

Applying to the URC

Participants must complete a short online questionnaire, submit their resume, and provide a link to a previous project that includes a code sample. The interview process involves a 30-minute conversation and a short take-home technical assessment.
To apply, please submit the following materials:

To apply, please submit the following materials:

  • Google Form Q&A
  • PDF Resume
  • Example of previous project work that includes code

For questions, please email nmarchio@uchicago.edu or visit the URC FAQ Page. Please subscribe to the Mansueto Institute newsletter or follow us on Twitter to be notified of openings.

URC Frequently Asked Questions >>

For fullest consideration, please apply when openings are available. If no current research openings are posted, we welcome eligible students to submit an application and we will reach out with information about future opportunities.

Contact nmarchio@uchicago.edu with questions about participating in URC at the Mansueto Institute.