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Undergraduate Research: The barriers

There’s an invisible barrier between faulty and students. We get that. It’s what we are trying to overcome with re|course: the distance between faculty and students.

Thomas Siegmund

Thomas Siegmund presented in ME290 today, and he learned again that students see a high barrier to reaching out to faculty and even starting a conversation about undergraduate research opportunities.

So how do we overcome this barrier?

The students suggested that faculty come to them in regular classes and present their research. By taking a few minutes inside the regular class schedule,  students can learn about faculty research interests and begin exploring what interests them.

A web research hub will be helpful, but not enough

So, this insight is important. It suggest that making faulty research interests available though a new ME research hub will help, but it will not be sufficient.

Faculty can do more by coordinating among themselves and setting aside relatively small slivers of class time to expose students to related research underway by ME faculty. We’ll take these insight back to the re|course Undergraduate Research team. These insights will help us as we design our experiments to figure out what works to expand undergraduate research experiences.

Q: What does faculty + students + lunch equal?

A: ME Power Lunches

re|course is about expanding the learning opportunities for faculty and students outside the classroom.

Everyone has to eat. Right?

So how do we use lunch is an opportunity to expand faculty student interactions?

An obvious answer is for faculty to invite students out to lunch. The problem is that idea doesn’t scale very  easily. There’s so many faculty and so many lunch hours. Too many constraints for one-on-one lunches.

But what if we made an effort to convene lunches around topics that would interest students?  What if we designed the lunch so that there’d be a least one faculty member for every 10 students? What if we limited these sessions to 20 students each, so we could have some time for quality conversation?

What if we focused on topics like the following:

  • How we get a job?
  • What’s the best way to approach a job fair?
  • How do I make a presentation to a prospective employer?
  • What’s the package of materials I need to have two impressive employer?
  • How I handle a lunch or dinner with a prospective employer?

These are just some of the topics would come up with. They’re probably dozens of others. Guang Lin came up with these.

What ideas do you have? Take a moment and suggest a topic for an ME Power Lunch.

Why research?

What is the value of undergraduate research experiences to undergraduates?

Good question.  The best people to answer the question are probably other undergraduates who have had research experiences.

So we are on a hunt. We’d like to video undergraduates who had research experiences that they’d like to share with their colleagues. We will capture a 2 to 3 minute video in which you can explain what you found interesting or valuable in your research experience.

If you’re interested in participating, contact Ed Morrison (


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