Asee peer logo

The Role Of Undergraduate Research In Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1036.1 - 6.1036.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

William Jemison

author page

James Schaffer

author page

William Hornfeck

Download Paper |

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

Session 3630

The Role of Undergraduate Research in Engineering Education W. D. Jemison, W. A. Hornfeck, J. P. Schaffer

Division of Engineering Lafayette College Easton, PA 18042


The establishment of formal research programs for undergraduate engineering students is one way to encourage critical thinking, life-long learning, and the pursuit of graduate education. This paper discusses issues associated with the participation of undergraduates in engineering research, and describes the highly successful and firmly established EXCEL Scholars Program of undergraduate research at Lafayette College. Potential modifications and enhancements will be presented which are proposed to enable the program to meet the changing needs of the students and graduate schools. The information contained in this paper will serve to inform other institutions considering the initiation or expansion of a program of undergraduate research.

I. Introduction

Many factors affect an undergraduate engineering student’s decision of whether to join the workforce or pursue graduate studies and a research oriented career upon graduation from college. For example, the strong economy in recent years has created a huge demand for graduating engineers. This in turn has resulted in enhanced industrial recruiting efforts which often give students the impression that an undergraduate education is both the necessary and sufficient answer to career preparation. In comparison, full-time graduate study leading toward a research oriented career often appears far less attractive than the immediate and highly visible rewards offered for specific entry level engineering skill sets. As a result, the number of engineering graduate degrees awarded has dropped in recent years1.

While direct entry into a graduate program is not for everyone, it must be encouraged for the nation's top research-oriented students to ensure sustained technological innovation. In order to encourage our most promising scholars to consider graduate school, factors that discourage them from doing so should be recognized and addressed. In addition to corporate and peer pressure to immediately enter the workforce, many students have a negative perception of the economic consequences of this decision. They often believe that the best economic return will be obtained by going directly into the workforce and that pursuing graduate studies will cost too much in both tuition and lost wages. Many of

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Jemison, W., & Schaffer, J., & Hornfeck, W. (2001, June), The Role Of Undergraduate Research In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015