Research experiences are a great way to supplement your in-class learning at the College of Engineering. Depending on the discipline, up to 40% of College of Engineering undergraduates participate in research. These experiences allow students to enhance their education while earning academic credit, and sometimes include monetary compensation.
Students work as key members of research teams under the direction of noted faculty members utilizing the latest equipment in our modern laboratories to make discoveries that may improve our world. As an undergraduate researcher, you will learn valuable skills such as teamwork and collaboration while making important contacts and interacting with industry.
Finding the right project
To get the most out of your research experience, you need to find the project that best meets your interests and working style. 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 department staff members. 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.
Faculty and staff researchers looking for undergraduates
Here’s a list of current faculty and research staff regularly using undergraduate students in their research programs. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have any questions, contact Monica Mehanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Allen – Kentucky Transportation Center
Kimberly Ward Anderson – Chemical and Materials Engineering
D. B. Bhattacharyya – Chemical and Materials Engineering
Judy Goldsmith – Computer Science
Eric Grulke – Chemical and Materials Engineering
Issam Harik – Civil Engineering
Jane Hayes – Computer Science
Tommy Hopkins – Kentucky Transportation Center
Ted Hopwood – Kentucky Transportation Center
Jurek Jaromczyk – Computer Science
Jack Leifer – Mechanical Engineering, Paducah
Barbara Knutson – Chemical and Materials Engineering
Jim McDonough – Mechanical Engineering
Jerry Pigman – Kentucky Transportation Center
Naresh Shah – Consortium for Fossil Fuel Science
Suzanne Weaver Smith – Mechanical Engineering
Nick Stamatiadis – Civil Engineering