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Enticing Undergraduate Students to Pursue Graduate Research at an Undergraduate-Focused Institution

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Teaching and Pedagogy Issues in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.533.1 - 24.533.11



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Paper Authors


Aaron P. Wemhoff Villanova University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Aaron Wemhoff earned his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2004. He started work as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Villanova University in 2008 after working for 3 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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Enticing Undergraduate Students to Pursue Graduate Research at an Undergraduate-Focused InstitutionA course was created with the goal of enhancing the visibility of the Mechanical EngineeringDepartment graduate research program at a university containing high-quality seniorundergraduate students. The course included standard lectures where graduate studentspresented their research to undergraduate students, and specialized lectures that featured libraryresources and academic careers. This course was designed to motivate undergraduate students tostay at their undergraduate institution for a research-based graduate degree, to improvecommunication skills for existing graduate students, and to supplement ABET criteria notfrequently seen in core courses. The students exhibited a high attendance rate, but many studentslost interest when the speakers spoke at too high a technical level. Student surveys showed thatthe course improved their ability to decide on whether to pursue graduate research, and whetherthis research would occur in the Mechanical Engineering Department. The course surveys alsosuggested that the students were drawn away from professional post-graduate degrees towardsresearch-related graduate degrees. Also, nearly 1 in 5 students actively sought out at least onepresenter or faculty advisor to discuss their research project further, showing a substantialincrease in departmental research interest by the current undergraduate students. Finally, allstudents recommended the course to rising seniors given the right circumstances.

Wemhoff, A. P. (2014, June), Enticing Undergraduate Students to Pursue Graduate Research at an Undergraduate-Focused Institution Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20424

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