Category: Research

How can I get involved in research?

You just need to ask. You’ll need to find a faculty member who has a project you can work on with them. A good place to start is to look at the department faculty page and read about their research topics.

Find two or three who are doing research in an area that sounds interesting to you. Don’t worry about the jargon. You’ll be taught what you need to know as part of the project. Then reach out to them and ask if they have a project you can work on with them.

Introduce yourself and share what interests you about their work. If you’re willing to do the research for credit then you can begin work even if there isn’t funding to pay you. If the first person doesn’t work out then ask some else. You may need to talk to several faculty before finding someone.

There is also a great video on finding a research mentor on the Pavlis Honors College research workshop page.

What information do I need to enroll in the research class?

You will need the following information from your faculty supervisor.

Research Course

There are five different research courses. You will enroll in the one that matches your research project.

  • CM 4020, mineral processing
  • CM 4040, bioengineering, not biofuels
  • CM 4060, polymer engineering
  • CM 4080, biofuels
  • CM 4000, other topics

Semester

This is the semester you will be working on the research project.

Credits

The number of credits is based on your time commitment per week. You may earn up to 3 credits per semester.

  • One credit = 3 hrs/week
  • Two credits = 6 hrs/week
  • Three credits = 9 hrs/week

Title

You’ll need to provide a title of your project.

Abstract

You’ll need to provide a brief summary of your project.

Final Report

You’ll need to indicate the format of your final report. The report out options are:

  • written report
  • poster
  • oral presentation
  • none

Creating a poster is recommended even if it’s not required because it will allow you to participate in events to share your research experience at Michigan Tech and professional conferences. These are great career building opportunities.

How do I sign up for the undergraduate research course?

Follow these step to enroll in the course.

Find a faculty supervisor.

Approach a faculty member who is doing research that interests you and request to work with them.  Together you will settle on the research project details.  You’ll need to provide these details when you request to enroll in the class.

Submit the enrollment request form.

The link to the form is on the department’s undergraduate research page.

Complete lab safety training.

You’ll receive an email with a link to the lab safety training system. This needs to be completed the same week that the training was assigned.

Register for the class.

You will be given permission to enroll in the class once the safety training is complete. You can then enroll yourself in the research class on Banweb.

Where can I learn more about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program?

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.

What opportunities are there to do undergrad research off campus?

I can recommend two large programs that sponsor undergraduate research:

  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST)

NSF through the REU program sponsors summer research programs at many universities.  These are competitive programs and an excellent way to check out if you are interested in graduate school.  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.

NIST sponsors an undergraduate research program (SURF) that brings students to their Gaithersburg, MD location (near Washington D.C.) to do research with government scientists.  This program requires that your university apply for you and cost-share your application.  Thus if you are interested in the NIST program, you will have to interest a professor here at Tech to cosponsor your research.  For more information see the NIST SURF website.

What opportunities are there to do undergrad research at Michigan Tech?

Undergraduate research is an excellent idea for all students, but it is an especially good idea for those who are interested in attending engineering graduate school after completing their B.S. degree in chemical engineering.  Check out our short video on the subject.

There are three paths to undergraduate research experience at Michigan Tech (for information on off-campus possibilities, click on the tag below), and all three of them begin with speaking with a professor.  You must go to individual professors, presumably those who do research in areas that you find interesting, and discuss with them what types of opportunities there are to do research in their laboratories.

There are three types of research arrangements possible:

  • Research for credit;
  • Research as a part-time job;
  • Research as an unpaid intern.