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Participation Of Undergraduates In Engineering Research: Evolving Paradigms Over Three Decades Of Change

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Electrical & Computer Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.939.1 - 15.939.16



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Paper Authors

author page

Robert Engelken

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Participation of Undergraduates in Engineering Research: Evolving Paradigms over Three Decades of Change


Participation of undergraduates in research has received escalating attention over the last two - udents, faculty, and institutions. It serves as experiential- and service- multidisciplinary and honors context. Many institutions and government agencies have established infrastructures to support undergraduate research. However, the author has

nearly as in-vogue as it is now. References 1.- 4.1-4 described his experience in conducting research in a purely undergraduate electrical engineering program in a historically teaching- oriented, master-level institution in which undergraduate utilization was critical due to absence of engineering graduate students.

This presentation will survey his long-term experience with undergraduate research in a semiconductor materials-oriented research program, and how student perspectives and expectations, and the management/mentoring paradigms involving such, have evolved significantly, for example, in relation to the advent of computer technology and the Internet. It will update the strategies presented in his 1985 paper 1 with the tempering of 25 additional years of experience with opportunities and challenges of such. The audience, particularly faculty new to undergraduate research, should obtain a well-seasoned perspective of the issues, including specific recommendations, strategies, and pitfalls to avoid.


The author began establishing a research program shortly after commencing his academic career in 1982 at Arkansas State University in a new, purely undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) program with professional concentrations in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. This was at a university that historically had been strongly teaching-oriented, and had no doctoral-level programs. Since he was initially the only electrical engineer on the faculty, initial teaching loads were 12-13 semester credit hours, usually 4 different courses and a laboratory, on top of a heavy advising, service, and new course and laboratory development role. Thus, the overall workload was significant.

In spite of being at an institution where research expectations were secondary to teaching, the author not only recognized the importance of establishing a research program relative to promotion, tenure, merit pay, and professional creditability and mobility, but also sincerely desired to remain involved in research, as a follow-up to his graduate school research experience. The lack of engineering graduate students, as well as a minimal research infrastructure, made this challenging, so the author sought ways to creatively leverage the resources and time that were available. He was/is grateful for the support provided in this endeavor by his chair, dean, and other administrators. To their great credit and sometimes sacrificially, they did provide significant support, both tangible and intangible, within the constraints upon them.

Engelken, R. (2010, June), Participation Of Undergraduates In Engineering Research: Evolving Paradigms Over Three Decades Of Change Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15928

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