Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1078.1 - 9.1078.12
Running an Under gr aduate Resear ch Confer ence
J ames C. Squir e, Matthew R. Hyr e
Vir ginia Militar y Institute
Independent research and design is a critical component of engineering education, yet undergraduates often have few opportunities to showcase their work. It can also be difficult to convey their experiences succinctly on a resume unless they publish or present their design. In order to provide a forum to communicate and celebrate undergraduate student achievement, many universities have created undergraduate research conferences. The primary goal of these conferences is the promotion of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity performed in partnership with faculty or other mentors. A secondary goal is to help faculty discover new and more sophisticated ways to incorporate undergraduates in research and to encourage students to undertake research projects of their own.
In this paper we describe how to create and direct a first-time undergraduate research conference. Specifically we examine the steps of planning, budgeting, forming and managing the necessary subcommittees, raising interest among potential presenters and attendees, managing abstract submissions, and orchestration of the conference event itself. We also describe some of the pitfalls that can occur to first-time conference organizers, their solutions, and how to use the existing infrastructure of the school to reduce staffing requirements.
The number of undergraduate research conferences has exploded in the past decade for a variety of reasons. Recommendations from academic leaders1,2,3,4 to establish more opportunities for meaningful undergraduate research experiences have increased the need to create venues that allow students to present their work. Further, quantitative studies5,6 measuring the success of such undergraduate conferences are beginning to appear and the results are spurring more universities to develop similar programs. My research involving a random sample of 50 undergraduate research conferences sponsored by individual and consortiums of universities show a rise in the rate of the creations of such conferences (Figure 1). These conferences are typically too small to justify the expense of professional conference management; the average size of those surveyed was 257 participants (presenters plus viewers). Yet the budget needed to inaugurate such an event can be substantial and the burden of directing one often falls on an assistant professor with little prior conference management experience. This paper outlines effective strategies to help a faculty director plan and execute an inaugural undergraduate research conference. “Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”
Hyre, M., & Squire, J. (2004, June), Running An Undergraduate Research Conference Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13369
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