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A Pilot Symposium To Highlight Undergraduate Research In Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

ME Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.73.1 - 10.73.12



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Paper Authors

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Michael Alley

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1566

A Pilot Symposium to Highlight Undergraduate Research in Engineering*

Michael Alley Alicia Williams Engineering Education Mechanical Engineering Virginia Tech Virginia Tech


This paper documents a pilot symposium to recognize undergraduate research in engineering. Held in October 2004, the symposium included presentations and posters by more than forty undergraduates in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. One goal of the symposium was to give undergraduate researchers a means to communicate their work. A second goal was to inspire other undergraduates in the college to seek research experiences. One feature of this symposium was that undergraduates in the college’s honorary societies played a large leadership role. For instance, students from three honorary societies (Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, and Chi Epsilon) did the following: served as symposium organizers; reviewed more than forty abstracts and designated presentation or poster status for each; served as session chairs for the six presentation sessions and four poster divisions; and served as judges for the best presentation and poster in different categories. Allowing undergraduates to fill such leadership roles in the symposium gave these undergraduates a sense of ownership of the event and served to increase the number of participants at the event. A second feature of the symposium was that the symposium became an opportunity to teach communication skills to the presenters—especially since the event had a real audience, purpose, and occasion. Soon after the announcement of the acceptances, workshops were held to teach best practices for the design of presentation slides ( and best practices for the design of posters ( In addition, the week before the symposium, the participants gathered for another workshop in which they critiqued each other’s slides and posters. This paper presents lessons learned from this pilot symposium and discusses how we intend to incorporate these lessons into next year’s symposium.


The Boyer Commission Report has urged universities to “make research-based learning the standard” for the education of undergraduates [1]. Also calling for more * This work was supported by the National Science Foundation: NSF Project 0341171.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Alley, M. (2005, June), A Pilot Symposium To Highlight Undergraduate Research In Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14312

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