Undergraduate Research in Engineering
Select one of the topics below:
Presentation Opportunities-where and when
Communicating Your Results-posters and papers
Finding a research opportunity is a process that will take a considerable amount of time and commitment. The suggestions below may help.
Consider your interests
- What classes have engaged your imagination?
- What causes or topics are you passionate about?
Evaluate your goals and consider practical issues
- What do you hope to gain from undergraduate research?
- Do you need a position to help you get a job after you graduate? To help you get into graduate school?
- Do you need a paid position? Do you need academic credit? (You can't get paid and get credit for a position.)
- Does the position require transportation?
Explore your options
- Look at the professor's research interests in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering:
- Grouped by topic
- Grouped by department:
- Look into the Corporate Sponsored Senior Project Program (see the 2015 booklet here)
- Check the Undergraduate Research Positions page at the Expressive Intelligence Studio
- Division of Arts and New Media Call for Undergraduate Researchers
- Search the UCSC Research Opportunities Database
- Look at Other Research Opportunities
- Look at Join a Lab or Research Group
- Search Pathways to Science (fill out the form here for them to email you with opportunities)
- Academic Options & the Senior Exit Requirement
- Research Related Opportunities on SlugQuest
Use your resources
- Talk to other students, including graduate students, who are doing research and ask how they got started
- Go to office hours and ask your instructors about their work
- Visit your Department's or Division's Academic Adviser
- Visit the Career Center
- Join a student group (see list below)
- Investigate other online resources, such as WebGURU, guide for undergraduate research
Check with the UCSC Financial Aid Office to see if you qualify for specific funding opportunities.
There are many options to help fund your undergraduate research, including external funding, funding for UC students, and departmental and college grants.
External Funding Opportunities
Grant Database- Pivot
The University of California at Santa Cruz has a license to Pivot, a grant database that includes grants for undergraduate research. You need to register using your UCSC email the first time you use it, but the service is free.
Applications may be submitted by full-time students who desire to study propose to pursue lighting education or research as part of their undergraduate, graduate or doctoral studies. Applications for the Alan Lucas Memorial Educational Scholarships may be made by those who will be a junior, senior, or graduate student in an accredited four year college or university located in Northern California (including San Luis Obispo, Fresno and north). All applications should be submitted before April 1. The scholarships to be awarded will be at least $1,500.00. The student must submit an application, a statement of purpose, a description of work in progress, transcripts, three recommendations and a scholar agreement form. Copies of all enclosed documents should be photo-copied for interested students.
The Division, Department, and Your Professor
Be sure to check
- Baskin School of Engineering Undergraduate Travel and Conference Fund
- Scholarships for Current Students
Some departments also provide funding, so check with the department manager, the department webpage, and your academic adviser. If you are working with a professor, ask if there is funding for research expenses, conference travel, or other costs before starting your project.
Below are some links to college pages that list funding opportunities for undergraduates in that college. Be sure to check with your college adviser, since not all opportunities are posted online.
- College 9/10 Student Project Funds
- Cowell Student Project Funds
- Crown Student Project Funds
- Kresge Student Project Funds
- Merrill College Special Student Projects Funds
- Porter College Student Project Funds
- Porter College Creative & Innovative Grants
- Stevenson Research Project Funding
A major facet of research is communicating what you achieved and receiving feedback from your community. There are a wide range of venues and audiences that might be appropriate for you to target depending on the goals of your project.
Discussing your plans and results with your mentor, other lab members, fellow students and others can help you make sense of your work. Talking about what you are doing also helps clarify your thoughts, and helps you understand your work in the context of what others are doing.
Research Group Meetings
Ask the professor or PI if it is appropriate for you to present your results at a group meeting. These presentations usually highlight work in progress and provide an opportunity to get feedback from people who understand your research.
UCSC Presentation Opportunities
UCSC has a number of undergraduate research symposia and presentations.
Student Achievement Week
At the end of spring quarter, there are a number of opportunities for students to showcase their research.
- The Physical & Biological Sciences Division and Baskin School of Engineering Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium
- The Corporate Sponsored Senior Projects Program (see 2015 booklet here)
Many national and regional conferences welcome presentations from undergraduate students. Your best resource for more information on this is your mentor or professor.
Conferences that Feature Undergraduate Research
Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM
The conference is held in late winter.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR)
The conference is held in the spring.
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference
The conference is held is October or November.
Consult Your Mentor
Your mentor is the best source of information because s/he understands the culture of the discipline and how and when it is best to present your results.
Effective communication of your work is a skill you will learn and improve during your entire career. How you communicate your work will depend on your audience and your discipline. Before you begin, review any guidelines you've been given for content, format, length, etc. Make a draft, get feedback, practice and revise.
The internet has a vast array of resources. Below are a selection. If you find another that is especially helpful, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SACNAS- Writing an Effective Abstract (video, best seen on Google Chrome)
Target audience: SACNAS undergraduate poster presenters
- Producing an Academic Poster, Adam Reed, Youtube Video
- SACNAS 3 part video (best seen on Google Chrome)
- Poster Presentations-Preparing and Presenting at Your Best from Malika Bell, STEM Diversity
- Poster Presentation Tips from Zia Isola, Director of Diversity Programs, UCSC Genomics Institute
Writing Scientific Papers for Publication
Again, your best resource on this issue is your mentor. S/he can guide you to choose an appropriate journal and guide the writing, submission, and response to reviewers. Every journal has its own specifications on audience, length, figures, tables, etc. Listed below are a few online resources that can assist you.
- Writing Scientific Manuscripts-a guide for undergraduates from the Journal of Young Investigators. Provides a good overview of the publication and peer review process and detailed advice on writing.
- Tips for Writing Scientific Journal Articles from the University of Oulu
Journals that Accept Papers Authored by Undergraduates
If the journal is open-access (provided to all readers with no fee), the UCSC library may be able to help with publication fees. Click here for more information.
Sites that list journals that accept undergraduate papers in all disciplines:
- Association for Computer Machinery (ACM)
- Bioengineering Club
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- Information Systems Management Association (ISMA)
- National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
- Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)
- SACNAS- The Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Latino and Native American Students
- Scientific Slug
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
- Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE)