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Advice on choosing graduate program for robotics

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Hello everyone,


I am applying to top schools with an intent on working in autonomous systems/intelligent networks/robotics. I care about the control theory as well as machine learning aspects and have a background in ECE (Dual degrees in Electrical engineering and Computer engineering). I am ultimately pursuing my PhD but if necessary can apply to masters programs as a stepping stone. I have a fairly decent CS background, but not a full degrees worth (i.e. I have taken up through Data Structures & Algorithms/Operating Systems, but haven't gotten into Theory of Comp type stuff just yet). My stats are fairly competitive with a good GPA, GRE, strong LoRs, research exp., and industry experience through internships.


Schools I'm looking to apply to are MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, CMU, USC, UCSD, VTech, GATech, UPenn. My issue is that I am not sure which programs to apply to depending on the school that will be most likely to get me into a lab motivated by robotics (hopefully hands on). Some of the programs have robotics as part of the graduate Mechanical dept., some the ECE dept., and some the CS dept. I would stick with a PhD in EE if I knew it could get me into the labs at these schools, but don't want to run the risk of being excluded from involvement because I chose to apply for EE however all the work is being done in the CS department. I would be happy to do my PhD in CS, but I fear not having CS as my undergrad makes my chances in applying across disciplines less competitive.


If you know anything about the specifics of the programs I listed above and what departments typically get graduate students involved in their robotics research efforts, please enlighten me! This way I can know that (just as an example, I don't know if true or not) applying for ECE grad at USC is a waste of time because that department has nothing to do with the robotics efforts and I should have applied for CS grad.


Thanks for taking the time to answer!

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Thanks a lot for the insight. Georgia Tech is a University I am looking at.  Do you think it would be smarter for me to apply to the ECE PhD rather than CS since my background is in ECE (I have taken up through data structs/algorithms and operating systems but no theory of comp or beyond) Or do you think it really won't make a difference?

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