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Board 101: A Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program Coupling Energy-related Research with Training in Entrepreneurship

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Adam T. Melvin Louisiana State University

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Adam Melvin obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Arizona, a MS in Chemical Engineering (with a minor in Biotechnology) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Departments of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering. In August of 2013 he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University. His current research interests include biomolecular engineering, point of care diagnostics, microfluidics, single cell analysis, chemical biology, algal chemotaxis and growth dynamics.

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Mike Benton Louisiana State University

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This presentation will highlight the findings from the first two years of an NSF-funded research experience for undergraduate (REU) program located in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University (LSU). The authors noticed in recent years that many undergraduate students avoid enrolling in graduate school because they believe the only path for someone with a Ph.D. in engineering is as a faculty member. To address this limitation, the authors have developed a 10-week program that couples traditional research-related activities with training in entrepreneurship. The concept was to show students how both fundamental and applied research can lead to start-up companies, patents, and industrial partnerships. Additionally, in the part of the country where LSU is located, there are numerous small universities and colleges that do not offer research programs for undergraduates, so this REU site is a rare opportunity for these students to perform undergraduate research. The research theme for this program is energy: specifically, catalysis, energy storage, and biofuels due to the pronounced expertise in these areas at LSU. A major strength of this REU program is the partnership with the LSU Business & Technology Center which provides the REU students with training in technology transfer fundamentals and how to pitch scientific ideas to non-scientists. In addition to the entrepreneurship training, the program offers weekly seminars in ethics, effective presenting, applying to graduate school, industrial safety, and topical seminars related to three main research areas of the programs. The students were assessed individually (weekly reports), by their mentors (electronic survey three times during the 10 weeks), and by an external evaluator (portfolios). The overwhelming response from the students was positive with many learning about new opportunities for someone with a Ph.D. degree. To date, the program has been offered during the summer of 2016 and the summer of 2017 with a total of 19 students participating in the program mentored by 11 different faculty members from three different engineering departments (chemical, biological, and environmental). Of the three students that have graduated from their undergraduate institutions, two have enrolled in post-graduate training further demonstrating the effectiveness of the program.

Melvin, A. T., & Benton, M. (2018, June), Board 101: A Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program Coupling Energy-related Research with Training in Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29858

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