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Using Undergraduate Research as a Recruiting Tool for Graduate Study

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students, Diversity, and Assessment

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1652.1 - 22.1652.8



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Paper Authors


Wes Stone Western Carolina University

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Dr. Wes Stone is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. He earned his bachelors degree from the Unversity of Texas at Austin, masters degree from Penn State, and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, all in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include manufacturing processes, quality techniques, and gas turbine technology.

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Using Undergraduate Research as a Recruiting Tool for Graduate Study With approximately 9,000 students, _____ University is a comprehensive institution ofhigher education, serving the people of western _____. The graduate program in EngineeringTechnology (ET) has grown from six students in the 2005-06 academic year to 22 students in2009-10. The growth has been a combination of many factors, including an increase inassistantships, active recruiting, and greater exposure to undergraduate research opportunities.This paper explores the effect of several undergraduate research projects on the decision toattend graduate school in engineering technology. The engineering technology laboratories are filled with a host of equipment that providethe platform for a wide variety of graduate research, including topics such as radiation therapy,reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, eco-friendly polymers, and facial expression recognitionsoftware. Although the ET undergraduate curriculum is very application-oriented, the wide arrayof graduate options often goes unnoticed by ET students, as they navigate their way towardgraduation. The faculty have taken an active role in engaging these students in undergraduateresearch to provide an early glimpse of graduate study at this institution. The avenues forundergraduate research have existed primarily in independent study courses and the capstonedesign project. This paper focuses on the undergraduate research experience for two ET undergraduatestudents who have completed independent study projects on a laser micro-machining center. Thefirst student performed a design of experiment (DOE) project, exploring the effect that the inputmachining parameters have on part quality. His DOE work preceded a very successful graduatedegree and a subsequent career at the tire manufacturer Goodyear. The second studentresearched the laser micro-machining capability of the same machine on piezo-electric materials.With high-precision cuts of 80 microns wide and 24 microns deep, the laser provides anoutstanding opportunity in the field of transducer design. This latter student is in the process ofcompleting his ET degree and is currently weighing the possibility of graduate study. Seventeenof the 22 graduate students in this program came through the undergraduate ranks at the sameinstitution. The access to undergraduate research opportunities played a key role in therecruitment effort, and will continue in that vital function.

Stone, W. (2011, June), Using Undergraduate Research as a Recruiting Tool for Graduate Study Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18734

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