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Perceptions, Expectations And Outcomes Of The Third Year Of A Research Experiences For Undergraduates Program

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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

Outstanding Contributions - Mechanical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.949.1 - 15.949.15



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Paper Authors


David Willis Southern Methodist University

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David A. Willis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He received his B.S. degree from North Carolina State University in 1995 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in 1997 and 2001, respectively. His areas of research interests are heat transfer, phase change, and fluid mechanics problems associated with short pulse laser-material interactions. His research involves experimental studies of laser microfabrication, high power laser-ablation, laser texturing, and laser-induced forward transfer. He has received the ASME North Texas Young Engineer of the Year Award, the SMU Rotunda Outstanding Professor Award, and the SMU Golden Mustang Award. He is currently an Altshular Distinguished Teaching Professor at SMU.

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Paul Krueger Southern Methodist University

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Paul Krueger received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1997 from the University of California at Berkeley. He received his M.S. in Aeronautics in 1998 and his Ph.D. in Aeronautics in 2001, both from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In 2002 he joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at Southern Methodist University where he is currently an Associate Professor. He is a recipient of the Rolf D. Buhler Memorial Award in Aeronautics and the Richard Bruce Chapman Memorial Award for distinguished research in Hydrodynamics. In 2004 he received the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation and in 2009 he received the ASME North Texas Section Young Engineer of the Year award. His research interests are unsteady hydrodynamics and aerodynamics, vortex dynamics, bio-fluid mechanics, and pulsed-jet propulsion.

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Alice Kendrick Southern Methodist University

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

Perceptions, expectations and outcomes of the Third Year of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program


Findings from a third-year study of a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site are presented in this paper. Ten students out of 79 applicants were selected to participate in hands-on experimental research in a mechanical engineering department for 8 weeks in the summer of 2009. The program matched students with faculty and graduate student mentors in several mechanical engineering laboratories, including experimental fluid dynamics, micro-sensors, laser micromachining, and advanced manufacturing. Participants attended seminars on experimental uncertainty, planning experiments, and presentation of experimental data. Students also attended field trips to local companies where they met with practicing mechanical engineers.

The REU students participated in before-program and after-program surveys and focus groups. The pre-post surveys indicated that as a result of the program students felt they had gained considerable hands-on experience, the ability to work with specialized equipment and methods of making engineering measurements, and that they were far more knowledgeable about engineering research. Eight out of 10 participants expressed a desire to attend engineering graduate school in both the pre- and post-surveys, though the number of students responding 5 to 2 in the post-survey.

Focus group discussions both pre- and post-program provided insight into a number of issues,

employment; the arrival at more realistic expectations of the conduct of engineering research, including dealing with uncertainty, setbacks and logistical issues, and the absence of project closure in an 8- decisions to apply for an REU program as well as the economic implications of pursuing a

publicizing, and recruiting for REU programs are discussed.

Description of the REU Site Program

A Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) was held during 8 weeks of the summer of 2009 at Southern Methodist University. The program was the final year of a three-year grant, and the results from the first two summers were published previously1,2. The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the final year of the program based on feedback from applicants and participants. Some of the evaluation questions were updated in the final year to reflect the possibility that student motivations for participating in the program were altered by the economy.

selected by the PIs due to the emphasis on experimental research by the majority of faculty in the

Willis, D., & Krueger, P., & Kendrick, A. (2010, June), Perceptions, Expectations And Outcomes Of The Third Year Of A Research Experiences For Undergraduates Program Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16683

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