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Undergraduate Research

The department offers opportunities for qualified undergraduate students to perform research in the Materials Science and Engineering program and in the Welding Engineering program under the direction of faculty members. Students work on research problems that may involve laboratory work, computer programming and data analysis, and searching literature. Undergraduate research is ideal for students who enjoy working in the lab or on the computer, and for those interested in attending graduate school.

Getting Started
  1. Consult the People directory to see which professors and topics you would be interested in working with/on. 
  2. After reviewing their research areas, and have a few professors and topics in mind, consider the following:
  • How much time per week do you have to work on research? 
    Typically, a professor requires 3 to 4 hours of work per week for each credit hour a student earns.  Keep in mind that if you are paid for research you cannot earn credit for those hours in which you are paid.  However, you can split the funding (if offered) and the credit hours, depending on the amount of time you can work per week.
  • Students with a CPHR of 3.0 or higher should decide in their junior year whether or not to do a Research Distinction thesis project.
  • Be aware that, typically, professors are looking for motivated undergraduate students who are able to work independently and who have an interest in and a good chance of being accepted to graduate school
  1. Contact by email the professor(s) with whom you are interested in working, to inquire about research opportunities.
  • Include information about your interests, academic goals, GPA, and why you would be interested in working with them.
  • Include a copy of your advising report and an updated resume. 
  • Ask to set up a meeting to discuss research with them, and give them 2 or 3 options of days and times.
  • Follow up in person, phone, or another email if you have not heard back from them in 7-10 days.
  1. Once you have secured a research position, determine if you will receive pay, credit, or both.  If you will receive credit, establish the number of credit hours and type of research: 4998, 4999 (thesis), or 4999H (honors thesis).  Email  the undergraduate advisor to schedule the number of research credit hours each semester.  Note: To register for 4999 or 4999H credit, you must first have an approved research proposal on file with the College Office.

Research Distinction - Thesis

Students with university honors designation (GPA of 3.4 or higher) have the option of completing a thesis and to receive graduation with Honors Research Distinction. Those with a cumulative GPA between 3.0 and 3.39 may complete a thesis and graduate with Research Distinction. Completing a thesis project requires students to prepare a written final report and oral presentation to department faculty.

Before beginning the project, students must write a research proposal which the College of Engineering must approve and evaluate for eligiblity for Undergraduate Research Scholarship awards. No separate application is required for scholarship consideration.

Honors students (CPHR of 3.4 or higher) who earn 6 credit hours of 4999H credit, successfully defend their thesis, and complete at least two other criteria (see Research Distinction Guidelines) will graduate with Honors Research Distinction

Students (CPHR of 3.0-3.39) who earn 6 credit hours of 4999 credit and successfully defend their thesis, will graduate with Research Distinction.   

Credit earned as 4999 or 4999H in undergraduate research with thesis may count for 3 hours of technical elective credit for MSE and WE students. Please discuss these options with your academic advisor.

College of Engineering website on Research Distinction Guidelines.
College of Engineering website on Undergraduate Research Scholarships.
College of Engineering website on Summer Research Scholarship Program for first time researchers.

Contact for Research Information

For more information about research opportunities, Research Distinction projects, or thesis proposals in the MSE Department, please contact Profs. Steve Niezgoda or Menachem Kimchi the MSE and WE Honors Committee Representatives.