June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Electrical and Computer
14.995.1 - 14.995.11
Promoting Undergraduate Research in ECE (PURE): Connecting Undergraduates with Graduate Research Mentors
When undergraduate engineering student Kuang Xu noted first-hand how difficult it was for underclassmen to get started in engineering research, he decided to do something about it. Leading a student initiative to bring research opportunities to freshman and sophomore electrical and computer engineering (ECE) students, Xu directed the creation of the Promoting Undergraduate Research in ECE (PURE) program.
The primary aim of PURE is to provide motivated undergraduate students with research opportunities while they are freshmen and sophomores. At the beginning of the semester, PURE actively recruits both graduate and undergraduate students and facilitates the mentor-mentee matching process. Then, over the course of the semester, the graduate student research mentor guides the undergraduate student through an educational research project. For many undergraduate participants, PURE provides their first real exposure to engineering research.
After favorable response from interested students, the PURE pilot program was launched at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Spring 2008. During this semester, 22 undergraduates were mentored by 11 graduate students. Well-received by undergraduate and graduate students alike, the PURE program continued in Fall 2008.
This paper will first explain the motivation and vision for PURE. The paper will describe the structure of the PURE program, providing detailed timelines of the program implementation. Then the paper will analyze PURE program participation to date and explore the motivations of the program participants. Although no participants are paid for their involvement with PURE, both the undergraduate mentees and their graduate student research mentors benefit from participating in PURE. Finally, the paper will describe the future of PURE as ownership of the program transitions from the founding undergraduates to the department. Even as the program grows and evolves, PURE will continue to strive to match motivated underclassmen with graduate students who are passionate about research and mentoring.
The Promoting Undergraduate Research in ECE (PURE) initiative was established to address the dilemma facing undergraduate students who are enthusiastic about conducting research.
Underclassmen eager to participate in engineering research early in their degree program face roadblocks due to their inexperience. With limited funding and resources, faculty members are generally less likely to provide research positions for first- and second-year students who often lack technical skills and advanced coursework. When freshman and sophomore students approach professors about research opportunities, most students are advised to take more advanced courses in specific areas in order to qualify. In a Fall 2007 survey conducted by PURE, undergraduate students repeatedly expressed the need for a way to connect with the research opportunities available to them.
Xu, K., & Van Ruitenbeek, E. (2009, June), Promoting Undergraduate Research In Ece (Pure): Connecting Undergraduates With Graduate Research Mentors Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5606
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