What is Undergraduate Research?
The Council for Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as “…the inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate in collaboration with a faculty mentor that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.”
Involving yourself in undergraduate research adds a dimension to your university experience that will better prepare you for your future. As a researcher, whether in the lab or field, you will find discovery, challenges, and learn problem-solving skills beyond those you develop in the classroom or teaching laboratory. As an investigator you will learn to work independently as well as part of a team. You will improve both your oral and written communication skills. You will be a better candidate for whatever is the next step in your future.
In the field of computing, some projects are theoretical, which involve developing and analyzing new algorithms and techniques. Other projects are more applied, which involve experiments, design, implementation and testing.
Why Undergraduate Research?There are multiple reasons for participating in undergraduate research. Below is not an exhaustive list and each may not apply to you.
- Intellectual challenge. Research will challenge you in new ways and can help you decide your path in the field of computing.
- Apply classroom learning to hands-on project(s). Research allows you to pursue existing new interests and apply what you have learned. You have the potential to discover something new and advance existing knowledge.
- Impact society and the future. Many projects address the needs and problems of society.
- Prepares you for graduate school if you intend to pursue a Ph.D. or a M.S.
- Networking and Collaboration. Research is usually a collaborative effort. The strong connections you make may become beneficial when it comes to seeking recommendation letters for graduate school or employment references.
Ways to Get Involved
- Paid (e.g. employment, participant stipend)
- Course Credit
- Special Programs at UH
- Special Programs outside UH during Summer
How to Get Started
Unsure about undergraduate research? Or maybe you have an interest, but don’t know where to start? Here are a few ways to learn more about research itself as well as undergraduate research opportunities.
- Websites: to get started in research, you must first do some research! Visit the faculty and research sections of the department website to get a glimpse of faculty research.
- Faculty: professors are the focal point of university research. Maybe you’ve taken a class and a particular topic discussed piqued your interest. Or maybe you’ve gained interest after viewing research projects on their website. Connect with them after class or schedule an appointment with them to learn more about their research and inquire about undergraduate research opportunities.
- Teaching Assistants: many of you are in a class with a Teaching Assistant who is likely a MS or PhD student in the department. Don’t be shy! Ask them about their research and what they do.
- Peers: the person sitting next to you in class or a friend from a student organization has probably participated in undergraduate research. Ask them about their experience and how they got started.
- Department Seminars and Presentations: our department regularly hosts seminars where researchers from across the nation discuss a research topic. Attend a few seminars to expose yourself to the various research projects in the discipline. Each year, we also host Faculty Mini-Talks where all faculty give a quick talk about their research.
- Workshops and Conferences: attend events on-campus or off-campus with “poster session” and “research day” in the event title. These are avenues to hear from undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty about their research projects and findings.
Still have questions? Need help? Want to learn more?