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Evaluation of a Nine Year Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biomedical Engineering

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Pipeline and Performance in BME Education

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Page Numbers

26.695.1 - 26.695.19



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Eric M. Brey Illinois Institute of Technology

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Megan F. Campanile Illinois Institute of Technology


Norman G. Lederman Illinois Institute of Technology

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Dr. Lederman is internationally known for his research on teachers' and students' conceptions of nature of science and scientific inquiry. He is currently Editor of the Journal of Science Teacher Education

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Evaluation of a Nine Year Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biomedical Engineering Interest and opportunities for undergraduate research programs continue to increase atuniversities throughout the United States. Despite the significant level of interest and support forthese activities our understanding of the characteristics of a successful program and its long-termimpact on student outcomes remains limited. The purpose of this study is to examine the impactthe relationships and interactions with faculty, graduate student mentors, and otherundergraduate researchers in the program had on the participants’ career paths. Over the nineyears, there have been 123 undergraduate students who have participated and were from 27different states and 61 different institutions. More than half of the students 59.6% were female,33.3% of the students were from underrepresented groups, and 63.6% students without previousresearch experience. The undergraduate research program understudy is a 10-week engineeringresearch project working in research laboratories at the University or a collaborating MedicalSchool. A tiered mentoring structure was developed within the participating laboratories thatconsisted of some combination of faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, communitycollege students, and high school students. A longitudinal survey was administered to allprevious REU students to track post-program activities and collect data on their perceptions ofthe impact of the REU program on their educational and professional careers. Descriptivestatistics and content analysis method was used to analyze the data. The response rate of thelongitudinal survey was 84% (103/123). Of students who have completed their undergraduatestudies, 56% are currently in/have completed graduate studies in a STEM field. The studentsconsistently expressed that the program experiences with the faculty, graduate students, andpeers had an impact on their career choices. Students who had participated over 9 years agoconsistently supported this finding. Program alumni discussed how the program confirmed theirinterest in pursuing graduate school, exposed them to the nature of graduate school, built theirconfidence and increased their enthusiasm for scientific research. A number of the programalumni are currently in/have completed medical school (19%), with 4 in MD/PhD programs.Some alumni found that while the research experience was valuable it allowed them to determinea non-research career was a better option (“Helped confirm that I was most comfortable workingin…medicine.”). Some alumni (10%) have pursued other advanced degrees: Law, Pharmacy,Dentistry and Business. Overall, 81% of alumni pursued/are pursuing an advanced degree. Theremaining REU alumni are either working in industry (17%) or K-12 teachers (3%). In this workwe will provide a more comprehensive analysis of the results from the longitudinal assessment ofthe program.

Brey, E. M., & Campanile, M. F., & Lederman, N. G. (2015, June), Evaluation of a Nine Year Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24032

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