Three great reasons to do research as an undergraduate
Many undergraduate engineers at Rice are involved in research. More than two thirds of our students have had a research experience by the time they graduate. They have the option to do research for course credit or as an extra-curricular activity. Many students have done both.
Undergraduates do research work on teams with faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. They often get paid for their work. And there are many opportunities for research internships as summer jobs.
Research helps you find out about what you want to after graduation. Since the focus of graduate school is research, starting now allows you to figure out if graduate school is the right path for you. Research also provides you with a valuable educational experience you won't get in class -- and exposes you to the kind of lifelong learning that engineering and many other professions require. With research, you'll also build valuable relationships that allow you to get to know your professors in a way you won't in the classroom. When applying to a graduate school, a recommendation from a faculty member who has seen you in the research environment can be a powerful thing.
How easy is it to get involved in research? Because most of our classes are taught by faculty rather than graduate students, undergraduates get to know their professors better, and vice versa. Faculty can learn about students' strengths and interests, and students can learn about faculty research. Sometimes the faculty member will ask the student to join his or her research team, and often the student will ask to join the team.
Research activities will sometimes take you out of the lab. Undergraduates frequently travel to national conferences focused on their areas of research. Often faculty members or graduate students will be presenting papers cowritten by the research team members at these conferences. This means as an undergraduate, you can be coauthor of published papers. And we've had undergraduate students who have presented papers at national conferences.
That's an experience you can't get everywhere!
See what some of our undergraduates are doing in engineering research.