More than 33% of College of Engineering undergraduates participate in research in some form. All students are encouraged to conduct research as an undergraduate. Students can participate in research at any point in their academic program. You do not need to be an upperclassman to conduct research.
Undergraduate research is a great way to explore new interests, translate what you are learning in the classroom into a real-world situation, work closely with a faculty mentor in his/her research group, and gain important skills for use in the future.
There are two primary ways to get involved: The Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research or by finding a faculty mentor.
The Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research
The Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research seeks to teach undergraduate engineering students how to collaborate effectively in research settings while investigating areas of research interest within a specific discipline and gaining practical skills and knowledge for both graduate study and post-graduate careers. Undergraduate Research Scholars will have opportunities to conduct research, analyze data, present research results, network with other undergraduates with similar research interests and develop working relationships with faculty mentors and other research staff.
Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates
The REU program at the University of Kentucky provides a 10 week multidisciplinary summer research and education experience for rising junior and senior undergraduates in the area of Engineered Bioactive Interfaces and Devices.
Other summer research opportunities for undergraduates:
- Tennessee Technological University – Cybersecurity REU
- University of Mississippi REU program in Chemistry
- University of Nebraska Summer Research Program
- Vanderbilt University REU program in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering
- UConn Entrepreneurial REU
- University of Georgia Nanotechnology and Biomedicine Interdisciplinary NSF REU Site
- University of Arizona Cognitive and Autonomous Test Vehicle (CAT Vehicle) REU
- University of Southern California, Viterbi – SURE Program: Summer Research for Undergraduates
- Vanderbilt University REU program in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering
Finding a Faculty Research Mentor
To find a faculty mentor you will need find to ask yourself if a project in your major is what you need or if a multidisciplinary project would work better. Do you want to work as part of an overall research team, or do you prefer independent research? Then, follow these steps:
- Research the researchers. Talk to current students, undergraduate and graduate. Find out what they know about what types of projects are underway or any opportunities on the horizon. Consult with your current professors. They are keenly aware of their colleagues’ projects. Finally, don’t forget to talk to your advisor. Do your best to find out who is working on what before you meet with a faculty or research staff member.
- Make contact. Find out whether it’s better to call or e-mail the faculty member you want, and set up a meeting. Ask yourself if working on this project will provide you with the kind of educational experience you’re looking for. If it will, you’re on your way to an exciting new life experience. If not, don’t be discouraged. Make contact with another faculty member and begin the process again. Persistence pays off. You will find the right research experience for you.
- Follow through. During the semester, put in the required time. In general, for every credit hour you will earn, expect to put in three hours of lab or other related work. Do what you are asked to do and show up on time prepared to discuss your work. Learn all you can and make as many contacts as possible. Be willing to extend yourself like never before. The payoff will be huge.
If you have more questions check out the FAQs below:
Undergraduate research experience will:
- Enhance your problem-definition, problem-solving, and analytical skills
- Provide active, hands-on learning, through which you can experience the application of the abstract concepts covered in your engineering courses
- Prepare you for a rewarding career in academia or industry
- Help you develop the skills critical to effective teamwork
- Provide access to mentoring relationships and supportive professional networks
- Your mentor expects that you will be as committed to your research experience as you are any of your classes. You should expect to commit 10 hours per week to your research experience during the academic year and more if you continue during the summer.
- You are now a member of your faculty mentor’s research group. You will work with senior researchers including post-doctoral scholars, research scientists, and graduate students, but you may also work with other undergraduates. You are a contributing member of this team.
- You are an important member of a the research group. Communication is key to the success of this team. Attend meetings with your mentor and the research group. Share your activities and results. Most of all, if you have questions, ask! If you encounter a problem, let someone know immediately.
- You are expected to follow all established laboratory procedures involving safety and research integrity.
Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars
This event gives undergraduate students from across the University of Kentucky a forum to present their research to the university community and general public. The date for the 2018 showcase is Wednesday, April 25. For more information, visit the Showcase website.
Posters at the Capitol
This annual event is held at the state capitol in Frankfort. Undergraduate students from the eight state-supported universities present their research to state legislators with the aim of increasing an understanding of the important role of undergraduate research in the Commonwealth. The date for the 2018 event is Thursday, March 8. Detailed information may be found at the Posters website.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
This is the annual conference dedicated specifically to promote and celebrate undergraduate research. It is held at a different university each year. The University of Kentucky hosted NCUR in 2014. The University of Central Oklahoma will host the 2018 conference April 4-7, 2018. For additional information including deadline dates and poster submission information, visit the NCUR website.
Faculty and Staff Researchers Mentoring Undergraduates in their Research Programs
Here is a list of current faculty and research staff currently mentoring undergraduates in their research programs. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have any questions, contact Dr. Kim Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Adams – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sean Bailey – Mechanical Engineering
John Balk – Materials Engineering
Matt Beck – Materials Engineering
Dibaker Bhattacharyya – Chemical Engineering
Sebastian Bryson – Civil Engineering
Mei Chen – Civil Engineering
Zhi David Chen – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Henry Dietz – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Kevin Donohue – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Thomas Dziubla – Chemical Engineering
Gregory Erhardt – Civil Engineering
Isabel Escobar – Chemical Engineering
James Fox – Civil Engineering
Martha E. Grady – Mechanical Engineering
Eric Grulke – Chemical Engineering
Jeffrey Todd Hastings – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Jane Hayes – Computer Science
Zach Hilt – Chemical Engineering
Jesse Hoagg – Mechanical Engineering
Dan Ionel – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Barbara Knutson – Chemical Engineering
Alexandre Martin – Mechanical Engineering
Lindell Ormsbee – Civil Engineering – www.uky.edu/WaterResources – www.uky.edu/superfund/
Kelly Pennell – Civil Engineering
Jonathan Pham – Chemical and Materials Engineering
David Pienkowski – Biomedical Engineering
Mike Renfro – Mechanical Engineering
MIchael Sama, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Simone Silvestri – Computer Science
Suzanne Smith – Mechanical Engineering
Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto – Civil Engineering
Joshua Werner – Mining Engineering
Guoqiang Yu – Biomedical Engineering