June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Nuclear and Radiological
13.1120.1 - 13.1120.7
Summer and Academic Year Undergraduate Research in Nuclear Engineering
Undergraduate research participation has become important in engineering and more so in Nuclear Engineering. There is a strong interest among faculty to seek interested undergraduate student participation in their research projects. The undergraduate research has often been used as a recruitment tool for graduate schools. The undergraduate research participation in general has benefitted both students and the faculty and has given rich experience to the graduate students and researchers who otherwise would not interact with undergraduate students. The Nuclear Engineering student groups are generally small and this interaction has more impact on student learning. The undergraduate research during summer and during academic year in nuclear engineering program is reviewed. Key lessons learnt by faculty and graduate students and feedback by undergraduate students are summarized in this paper.
The Boyer Commission Report1 recognized that the majority US research universities had failed to integrate the research with undergraduate education even though the research successes were used in recruiting undergraduate admission. The report recommended a new model for undergraduate education at research universities where research based learning will be an inseparable part of baccalaureate experience. The model involved undergraduate research experience with senior researchers, faculty and their graduate students. A 1998 workshop at National Research Council2 stated that “research is a necessary component of the bachelor’s degree education.” Recently there is dramatic increase in the number of institute wide undergraduate research programs in science and engineering. The first institution-wide undergraduate research program at a major research university was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969 and has been followed by a number of other research universities. The National Science Foundation has presented undergraduate research as a critical component of its core strategy for education reform. The National Science Foundation began providing financial support for such efforts in 1987 through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, which was specifically designed to attract talented students into research careers in science and engineering. Some programs now require undergraduate research as part of the B.S. degree to meet the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) engineering criteria.
There are several benefits in the undergraduate research participation. Faculty mentors generally agree that significant educational benefits result from the undergraduate research experience. Students develop expertise in an area of specialization, gain a better understanding and appreciation of the research process, and acquire skills in team work, communication, problem- solving, and critical thinking. A recent University of Delaware study3 indicated that undergraduate research experience was “very” or “extremely” important to their overall education. The benefits to undergraduates include that they are more likely to pursue graduate degrees, greater enhancement of their ability to carry out research, speak effectively, understand
Revankar, S., & Mbuga, F. (2008, June), Summer And Academic Year Undergraduate Research In Nuclear Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4390
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