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The Influence Of A Research Experiences For Undergraduates Program On Students’ Attitudes Toward Engineering Research

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1227.1 - 14.1227.10



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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 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in 2001. 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, 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. 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

The influence of a research experiences for undergraduates program on attitudes toward engineering research


The results of the second year study of a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site are presented in this paper. The program recruited students nationwide to participate in hands-on experimental research in a mechanical engineering department for eight weeks in the summer of 2008. The program matched 10 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.

Applicant surveys were employed to learn about the interests and background of applicants, how they learned of the REU program, and why they wished to participate. Among findings of interest were that one-third of student applicants decided to study engineering during the senior year of high school or later, that student applicants were much more likely to have been influenced to study engineering by family or high school teachers than by high school

The admitted students participated in First Day and Final Day surveys and focus groups. Among

that students would expect from an academic course, an appreciation for the precision that research requires, the importance of research literature to the engineering knowledge base, and the patience required to execute experimental programs. The report also discusses how results from the 2007 study of participants at the same REU site were used to implement improvements in the 2008 program, including a seminar on evaluating graduate programs and applying to graduate school. The paper will also compare and contrast participant responses from the 2007 and 2008 program evaluations.


A National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site was conducted during the summer of 2008 at Southern Methodist University (SMU). This was the second year of the program, the theme of which Mechanical Engineering. The theme was selected by the PIs because most of the mechanical engineering faculty research programs have an emphasis on experimental techniques. - active learners1 . Experimental research has also been shown to be effective for improving retention among participants2,3. Research laboratories that participated in the program were the Laser Micromachining Laboratory, the Experimental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, the Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing, the Laboratory for Micro- and Nano-Mechanics of Materials, and the Micro Sensor Laboratory.

Willis, D., & Krueger, P., & Kendrick, A. (2009, June), The Influence Of A Research Experiences For Undergraduates Program On Students’ Attitudes Toward Engineering Research Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5507

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