June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.25.1 - 26.25.15
A Comprehensive College-Centered Engineering Undergraduate Research ProgramUndergraduate (UG) research is an important component of today’s engineeringeducation. Research experiences allow students to explore beyond the classroom byapplying concepts towards scientific discovery and the development of products andtechnologies that impact society. The number of UG engineering students interested inparticipating in research is increasing. However, UG research opportunities are oftenlimited to students finding a project, laboratory, and mentor on their own . Therefore,only a handful of students typically benefit from a mentored UG research experience. Inaddition, students seeking UG research opportunities and projects have little, if any,knowledge on how to conduct research. A well-structured, guided UG research programcould enhance the undergraduate experience of a large number of students and betterprepare them for making an appropriate postgraduate choice (industrial R&D, graduateschool, etc.) that would lead to career success.In our institution, we have developed and implemented a college-centered engineeringUG R&D Program that teaches students the art of conducting research using acomprehensive approach. The students are introduced to research methods and conceptsthrough a research course, and a series of competitive research project opportunities isprovided. In addition, students are required to present their research findings at a college-wide research expo and submit a paper to student-reviewed campus research journal. Theprogram aims to impact a large number of students interested in working on research anddevelopment projects in all disciplines within engineering. The program is centralized atthe college level and supports student/faculty teams that compete by submitting formalproposals focused on basic research projects or the development of a technology orproduct. Proposals are solicited every semester, including summer, and reviewed forquality and impact with special attention to the mentoring plan. Since its inception(Spring 2013), 178 projects have been supported, with participation of engineeringstudents in their second through fourth years. The funding rate is 70% of submittedproposals that scored within the top 20%. Student participants in this R&D programreported acceptance of their work for presentation in national conferences, receivedresearch awards, and published in peer-reviewed journals. Surveys have beenimplemented to evaluate the impact of the UG research experience on graduate schoolacceptance rates, industrial internships, and placement opportunities upon graduation.Currently available metrics support the significance and impact of this program onstudent education and career success. In this paper we will present and discuss a morecomprehensive analysis of the results from the assessment of the program.
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