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The current paper is an examination of the efforts at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) to incorporate undergraduate students into research efforts within the department. There are currently three avenues for undergraduate students to pursue research of a higher level than commonly experienced by most undergraduates. While the three avenues have not been limited in participation to historically underrepresented groups, the predominant participants in these programs have been women. Research topics for all programs have centered upon advanced numerical simulation of flows through molecular-based simulation techniques, a highly advanced field for the average undergraduate student. The experiences of both the author and the participating students have been mixed for reasons ranging from bureaucratic difficulties over the use of undergraduate students to lack of adequate educational background to conduct graduate student level research on the part of the participating students. The author examines the benefit to the students of doing undergraduate research in each of the three programs, as well as the benefits and pitfalls to the professor using undergraduate students for their research projects. An assessment of the benefits of undergraduate research efforts by former and current student participants is included.
Frontiers in Education, 2002. FIE 2002. 32nd Annual (Volume:3 )
Date of Conference: 6-9 Nov. 2002