The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is a set of summer research programs hosted at at many universities, including Michigan Tech. These are competitive programs and an excellent way to check out if you are interested in graduate school. A good time to do an REU is the summer after you have completed the spring junior classes in chemical engineering. If you can get one earlier than that, that’s great too, but the best time is just before senior year.
The REU programs are the opportunity to participate in a funded research program at a research university. You will work with other REU undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and the professor in the program (0ften in a lab) on a real project that is aiming towards publication. They are looking for bright students who may be interested in going to graduate school. They will be showing you what graduate school and research is all about. You will make friends and gain colleagues and you will gain research experience and skills. You will get the opportunity to live in a new place and in general check out the scene. You may get to be on a publication. If you are not sure about going to graduate school the REU experience will likely give you the experience you need to come to a decision.
The REU fellowships are well funded–you will have enough to live on and to enjoy your summer and to save up for college. The deadlines for REU applications range from January to late March annually. There may be some with later deadlines, but they are accepting people in February and March so if they fill up they fill up.
You may obtain more information about the REU program from the NSF website. Undergraduate students sponsored with NSF funds must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its possessions. NSF maintains a website that allows you to search by topic for REU programs throughout the country. A contact person and contact information is listed for each site.
I highly recommend this program to students who are interested in research and/or graduate school.