This fall, the faculty and students in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department at MIT are coming together for a new program that has created a buzz since its announcement last spring. The Advanced Undergraduate Research Program, now officially known as the SuperUROP, for EECS department juniors and seniors has already enticed over 200 students with more than 100 exciting research projects proposed by the department's faculty.
What's got everyone excited?
SuperUROP features a year-long advanced research experience during which students will work on a challenging research problem that will potentially be published in a top conference or journal, and be supported by advanced software or hardware prototypes. Applicants are also invited to propose their own project ideas with their selected advisor. Students will be able to work with an industry mentor and, through this program, they will develop tools for launching into their own careers. Faculty are excited because they are aware that many students, who are capable of this kind of deeper research experience, will now have that opportunity.
The new undergraduate research program will essentially be like a jump-start on grad school, a startup accelerator, and an industry-training bootcamp — all rolled into one.
How does the program accomplish this?
In addition to the year long research experience, the program also includes a new and highly selective named-scholars program -- the Research and Innovation Scholars Program (RISP). RISP will provide funding for both the student and the faculty member. Sponsoring companies will be encouraged to provide mentors for monthly meetings with awardees. Individual donors will also have the opportunity to interact with the scholars.
Students will take a specially designed course titled “Preparation for Undergraduate Research” to prepare for this experience. The course, designed as a seminar to complement each scholar's research, will cover issues such as choosing and developing a research topic, surveying previous work and publications, research topics in EECS, industry best practices, design for robustness, technical presentation, authorship and collaboration, and ethics. After completion, by the end of the year, of this course plus the research project, the student will receive a certificate in advanced undergraduate research with a designated focus area.
Photo left: Dropbox co-founder and CEO, Drew Houston (EECS '07) made a surprise visit to the first class meeting, Sept. 13, 2012. He described his experiences starting Dropbox (and several eariler startups) to the 50+ students in the new class.
See how the "Super" UROP program fits into the curriculum.
Read the MIT Tech article (May, 2012) on the "Super UROP" program.