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Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research

The College of Engineering Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research teaches 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. College of Engineering 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.

The program consists of one required 2-credit course, a required structured research experience and junior/senior-level capstone symposium.

Please note: November 22 is the deadline to apply for the spring semester.

The problems facing the next generation of engineers will be transdisciplinary in nature. The problems of the 21st century will require convergent research to address the challenges of sustaining civilization’s continuing advancement, while still improving the quality of life. In response, the Introduction to Research course will be developed around five of the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering identified by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Specific Grand Challenges include: restore and improve infrastructure, provide access to clean water, secure cyberspace, manage the nitrogen cycle, and make solar energy economical.

This is a freshman/sophomore-level course. The course will consist of one hour of in-class participatory learning and one hour of active laboratory experimentation. This class will introduce students to the concepts and skills related to identifying research collaborators, developing a research hypothesis, conducting a formal literature review, obtaining research funding through grant proposal writing, designing experiments, data collection, data analysis techniques and presentation of research findings.

Structure of the course

The course will be limited to 20 students for the initial cohort. The cohort will be divided into two-person teams, with each team being consisting of one freshman and one sophomore. Each team will focus on one Grand Challenge project. Two teams will do the same Grand Challenge, but using different approaches.

Class meetings consist of 15 minutes of an instructor-based presentation; 30 minutes of student/instructor interactive learning and five minutes class wrap-up/next steps.

Laboratory experimentation will require each team to meet at least once per week with their respective research mentor to perform prescribed research activities.

Anticipated outcomes of the course

  • Completed applications for a minimum of two external scholarships, of which one will be a nationally-competitive award
  • Completed application for one Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program
  • Draft paper and draft poster for a conference or symposium

Assessment for the course

  • Midterm (50%) – Completed applications for the scholarships and REU programs
  • Final (50%) – Oral presentation of the semester research, draft summary paper, draft research poster and a questionnaire about the student’s knowledge and perception of research.

Students will be expected to participate in a structured research experience during their junior and senior years. The experience can be in the form of

  • a 395 Independent Study course
  • an on-campus or off-campus REU program
  • an approved form of research experience.

During the junior/senior year, after the completion of the Required Structured Research Experience, the students will be required to develop and present a research poster from the 395 Independent Study course or REU research. The students will also be required to take a questionnaire about their knowledge and perception of research.

  • The Introduction to Research course is only open to freshmen and sophomore students in the College of Engineering
  • Students must a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0

Students must submit the following materials as a single .pdf file to isabel.escobar@uky.edu or to sebastian.bryson@uky.edu:

  • A short statement (no more than 150 words) discussing why they want to do research
  • Updated resume with the student’s academic and work background

Isabel Escobar, co-director, Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research, Isabel.escobar@uky.edu

Sebastian Bryson, co-director, Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research, sebastian.bryson@uky.edu