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Undergraduate Research in Science as an Elective Course for Engineers

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Physics Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

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Paper Authors


James O'Brien Wentworth Institute of Technology

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James G. O'Brien is an associate professor of Physics at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, MA. James is currently pursuing educational pedagogies in engineering education through game-ification of education and the design of competitive table top games which engage students in an exciting atmosphere to help facilitate learning of essential physics concepts. Aside from a love of gaming and its role in education, James is also the Vice President of the International Association of Relativistic Dynamics, an international organization of physicists whose research revolves around the study of relativity and gravitational research.

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Gergely Sirokman Wentworth Institute of Technology


Franz J Rueckert Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Dr. Rueckert is an experimental physicist specializing in condensed matter. His research interests include magnetic and electronic properties of perovskite materials and, more recently, novel approaches to physics education.

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Undergraduate research has become more and more integral to the functioning of higher educational institutions. At many institutions undergraduate research is conducted as capstone projects in the pure sciences, however, science faculty at some schools (including that of the authors) face the challenge of not having science majors. Even at these institutions select population of high achieving engineering students often express a keen interest in conducting pure science research. Since a foray into science research provides the student the full exposure to the scientific method and scientific collaboration, the experience can be quite rewarding, and beneficial to the development of the student as a professional. To this end, the authors have been working to find new contexts in which to offer research experiences to non-science majors, including offering a new undergraduate research class, conducted by physics and chemistry faculty. These courses are inherently interdisciplinary, as students in the engineering and computer science fields step into physics and chemistry labs to solve science problems, often invoking their own relevant expertise. In this paper we start by discussing the common themes and outcomes of the course. Then we discuss three particular projects that were conducted with engineering students and focus on how the undergraduate research experience enhanced their already rigorous engineering curriculum.


Undergraduate research, Physics Education, Laboratory Instruction, Interactive Learning, Physics Pedagogy

O'Brien, J., & Sirokman, G., & Rueckert, F. J. (2016, June), Undergraduate Research in Science as an Elective Course for Engineers Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27094

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