The U.S. Government's National Science Foundation (NSF) started the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in the mid-1980s to attract undergraduates in STEM fields into research careers and to consider going to graduate school. The REU program offers grants to universities to plan and oversee research experiences that enrich undergraduate students' educational experiences. It is believed these experiences encourage the participants to pursue leadership careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
The University of Central Florida's (UCF) Computer Vision group was in the selected first group of sites: only three REU sites in NSF's Division of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) were awarded funding in 1987. The grant duration was one year, so continued funding would require a new application for renewal the following year. A few years later, the grant duration was increased to three years, and remarkably for the past 30 years, UCF has kept continuously being funded, by a total of 14 grants. The NSF funded site pays stipends to 10 undergraduates each year who immerse in research and gain useful insight into the prospect of graduate education as an option for their careers.