More than two thirds of undergraduate engineers at Rice have had a meaningful 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 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 students find out what they want to do after graduation. Since the focus of graduate school is research, working in a lab can help a student decide if grad school is right for them. Research also provides students with the kind of experience they won't get in a classroom. It teaches them how to seek answers to open-ended questions but also, how to ask the right questions, and that can be a valuable skill in any profession.