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How To Run A Successful Research Experience For Undergraduates (Reu) Site

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.676.1 - 9.676.8



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Paper Authors

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David Bahr

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M. Grant Norton

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Session 1793

How to Run a Successful Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site

M. Grant Norton, David F. Bahr

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Washington State University Pullman WA 99164-2920

Introduction The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). One of the goals of the program is that students are “involved in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specially designed for the purpose” 1.

For the past five summers the NSF has funded a summer REU site in Characterization of Advanced Materials at Washington State University. WSU currently has the longest active REU program in materials research in the northwest. Our REU site brings students to Pullman to spend 10 weeks each summer focused on interdisciplinary materials research. The initial target population for our REU program was primarily students from schools in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain states that do not have access to the modern instrumentation that is needed for materials research. Over the five years of our program the number and popularity of REU programs has increased nationally and we have attracted students from throughout the United States as shown in Figure 1. To date a total of 55 undergraduates from 25 Universities in 9 majors have participated in on-going research programs in materials science working closely with faculty members and graduate students often in an interdisciplinary environment.

This paper describes our experiences in running an REU site. It describes what worked for us and what did not and the outcomes to date of our program. There are many REU sites around the country and some of these may be run along similar lines and have had similar successes.

Program Structure Students apply to our REU site through an on-line application form and are required to submit one letter of recommendation and a brief statement of purpose. The application deadline is typically March 1. Selection is based on several criteria. In addition to making sure the applicant has an interest in the research activities being offered, we also seek to ensure a diverse group of participants in terms of academic background (freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior),

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bahr, D., & Norton, M. G. (2004, June), How To Run A Successful Research Experience For Undergraduates (Reu) Site Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14048

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