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Comprehensive Research Experience for Undergraduates

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


George Youssef San Diego State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. George Youssef received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California Los Angeles in 2010 and joined the faculty at San Diego State University after four years appointment at California State University Northridge. His research interest is in the general area of solid mechanics with focus on nontraditional materials such as polymers, composites, and smart materials. His research contribution in dynamic properties of shock-loaded materials, interfacial strength of direct bond wafers, environmental degradation of polymers, and biomechanics of walking. Dr. Youssef has several publications in archival peer-reviewed journals. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and private industries. Dr. Youssef was recognized in 2014 by San Fernando Engineers Council as Distinguished Engineering Educator and is one of the 2016 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Ralph R. Teetor Award winners.

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Enrique A. Ainsworth University of California - Los Angeles

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Casey Ann Shapiro UCLA Center for Educational Assessment

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Hannah Whang Sayson UCLA Center for Educational Assessment


Marc Levis-Fitzgerald University of California - Los Angeles

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Marc Levis-Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Director, Survey Research and Curricular Assessment

The Survey Research and Curricular Assessment unit coordinates campus wide survey research to assess student satisfaction, document student learning, and provide data for UCLA’s academic program reviews coordinated by the Academic Senate. This work includes primary responsibility for developing and administering the Senior Survey to over 8,000 graduating seniors annually in the College of Letters and Science, the School of Arts and Architecture, and the School of Theater, Film, and Television. The unit also provides ongoing assessment support for academic programs within the Division of Undergraduate Education including those in areas related to general education programs, honors education, undergraduate seminars, transfer students, community learning opportunities, and undergraduate research education. Finally, the unit collaborates with faculty across campus to develop and implement curricular assessment components of funded grant projects.

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The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) has been shown to positively influence the academic and professional performance of participants. The development of such programs has not been uniform throughout the past few decades. Nonetheless, hallmark characteristics are common between successful programs, which include: 1) meaningful research experience; 2) challenging yet welcoming environment with proper social network; 3) mentorship by faculty members and graduate students; and 4) well-rounded experience through supplemental workshops and seminars. Considering previous research, the XYZ research center designed, implemented and assessed a comprehensive REU program to engage students in research during both the academic year and summer months. XYZ’s REU is an eight-week research experience for undergraduates from multiple 4-year universities and community colleges. The program components include research in one of XYZ laboratories, seminars on ethics and diversity, workshops on entrepreneurship, and social events. These activities are woven into an experience to instill sixteen specific skills that were grouped into five core categories: I) communication (2 skills); II) engineering success (2 skills); III) business and market savvy (3 skills); IV) technical (5 skills); and V) multicultural and interpersonal (4 skills). The inclusion of these skills was based on the objectives of National Science Foundation’s REU and ERC programs, the ‘Engineer 2020’ report from the National Academy of Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers ‘Vision 2030’ report. XYZ’s Industry Advisory Board reviewed, approved, and ranked the relevance and importance of each skill. After each research experience, i.e. 8-week program, students completed electronic surveys and either in-person or phone interviews, which were administered by an independent evaluator. The assessment protocol was reviewed and approved by Institutional Review Boards on each campus. Results are based on a sample of 51 undergraduate students from the first two years of assessment (participation rates of 71.4% and 81.8%, respectively). Findings suggest substantial increase in students’ engineering knowledge and skills, with the overwhelming majority of participants indicating that they were “Satisfied or Very Satisfied” with XYZ REU program.

Youssef, G., & Ainsworth, E. A., & Shapiro, C. A., & Whang Sayson, H., & Levis-Fitzgerald, M. (2016, June), Comprehensive Research Experience for Undergraduates Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26547

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015