The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) helps students identify a research project during the academic year. Full time undergraduate students may pursue research for academic credit or as a paid research assistant working in the labs of world-leading Rensselaer faculty researchers. The sponsoring department or faculty member is responsible for the financial support a research assistant receives. In addition, the Office of Undergraduate Education will match up to a maximum of $400 per academic semester.
We encourage all full time undergraduates from all schools to apply for the Undergraduate Research Program (URP).
- Identify an advisor and a project.
- Complete the URP application (PDF document below) which includes a required student-written description of the planned research.
- Print out the completed form and sign.
- Obtain signatures from your research supervisor and sponsoring Department URP Coordinator (see below).
- The Department URP Coordinator will submit to Office of Undergraduate Education.
A good rule for finding an advisor or project is to start with what you know. Most undergraduates find projects from faculty members from whom they have taken classes.
Many Professors will make announcements in their classes or post information about available projects at their offices. Some even have links for information on their current research projects at their personal websites. A good place to start your search is to determine a faculty member with whom you may want to work on a project. Check their website to investigate their field of research. If it sounds interesting, approach them about a possible URP project.
Approaching a Faculty Member
Please be considerate of the faculty member that you are going to be asking for a project. Make sure you have already read about the research they do and show an interest in the topic. Be prepared to tell them of any relevant coursework you have completed or other experience that you have that would be applicable to a project they may have. If possible, prepare a short resume outlining these details. If you are responding to an advertised project, take time prior to speaking with them to investigate the project fully and be prepared with some specific questions and ideas about the project.
If you do not have a specific faculty member in mind, begin with the different types of research conducted in your department or the research interests of the faculty within your department. You may also do projects outside of your major, so consider checking the research being done in other departments, too. For example, an engineering product development project may need someone with knowledge of psychology and human factors to research human interaction with the product. Once you find a field of research that interests you, learn a little more about it.
You may work with a faculty member on an existing research project or on a project based on your own ideas. If you want to pursue your own project, find a faculty advisor who may be interested in your topic since you will be required to have a project advisor.
Students can request course credit OR funding for their research project.
Earn 1 — 4 Credits
The number of credit hours you earn is negotiable between you and your faculty sponsor. If you choose this option you and your sponsor need to:
- Determine how many credit hours you will earn (1 — 4)
- Decide exactly what is expected of you, such as your time commitment (no more than 12 hours per week), the type of work to be submitted
- Agree on how your grade will be determined
Please refer to http://finance.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=79 for additional information regarding credit hours. During the summer term, you will be billed for each URP credit hour for which you register.
Applying for Credit
When you complete the Undergraduate Research Project (URP) application form simply check the "I am requesting Credit" designation. All applications with this designation are sent to the appropriate department for approval. Decide how much time you will work; most projects expect eight hours per week not to exceed twelve hours of research per week.
You will not receive formal approval notification from the Office of Undergraduate Education.
With your sponsor, complete a Research Registration Form (4UR) and submit this form directly to the Registrar's Office.
Deadline for Credit
Same as the Registrar's "Add Course" deadline.
Students who have participated in the URP for pay have earned between $400 — $4,000 per semester.
FUNDING SOURCE: Sponsoring Faculty Member or Department
The faculty sponsor or department is responsible for the financial support of your research. The URP application should be submitted to the Department URP Coordinator in the department in which you are working.
The Department Coordinator:
- Reviews the URP application for completeness
- Processes your Payroll request
- Forwards the URP application to the Office of Undergraduate Education for approval
- Will set up a schedule for reporting your hours via web-time entry
FUNDING SOURCE: The Office of Undergraduate Education
The Office of Undergraduate Education pays URP participants up to a maximum of $400 per semester in the form of matching funds. Applications that are submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Education that do not contain funding from the sponsoring department will not be approved for matching funds. Applications requesting funding from the Office of Undergraduate Education that are received after the application deadline will not be approved for matching funds. However, the sponsoring department's funding will be approved.
Applying for Funding
When you complete the Undergraduate Research Project (URP) application form simply check the "I am requesting Funding" designation.
Deadline for Funding
Third Friday of the Fall and Spring semesters.
You and your sponsor determine the total amount you will earn and rate of pay. The minimum hourly rate for the URP is $12.50, however the rate that the sponsoring faculty member pays to you from their funds is negotiable. Decide how much time you will work; most projects expect eight hours per week not to exceed twelve hours of research per week. Pay checks are issued every other Friday.
Students must submit their application to the URP coordinator for the department in which the project will take place. Department Coordinators are responsible for the administrative details between the faculty researcher and the institute for the URP.
The Undergraduate Research Symposium is Rensselaer's premiere event for students to present their research project to faculty and students and earn valuable experience participating in a simulated research conference.
Registering for the Event
How to Participate
- Register for the event.
- Define your research category (see Types of Research Categories below).
- Prepare an abstract (see Preparing an Abstract below).
- Prepare oral presentation (see Making an Oral Presentation).
- Present oral presentation at the Research Forum (see Process and Important Dates below).
- Attend Awards Session for all research team members and faculty sponsors.
- Be a full time undergraduate student, in good academic standing, currently enrolled at Rensselaer.
- Have worked on an independent study or team-based project conducted under the supervision of, or with integral involvement of, a Rensselaer faculty member for at least 2 semesters. Design projects submitted for an undergraduate course are not acceptable. Design teams (e.g., SAE course) can present an innovative part of their project.
- Agree to deliver an oral presentation.
- Submit an abstract. The undergraduate who submits the abstract and completes the online registration form is the Team Leader and must be the same undergraduate who will present at the symposium. This same undergraduate Team Leader must be the first named co-author in the submitted abstract.
- The Team Leader will be notified of type of presentation by March 31, 2021
Day of Event
- See Process & Important Dates below for detailed schedule and timings.
- Bring a fully-charged laptop if using with your poster presentation.
- During the poster session, attendees will be able to walk around and browse for projects they find interesting.
- The judges will be given a list of posters in the session, and a brief abstract of each project. They will base their award decisions on the discussions and their impressions about the quality of your research work and poster presentation
- Dress Code – Professional attire suggested.
Process and Important Dates
|Deadline to submit registration form and abstract, including name of faculty sponsor||March 19th, by 5:00pm||Online registration form|
|Notification of type of presentation assigned||March 31st||Email to team leader|
|Prepare and complete oral presentation in accordance with guidelines (see below)||Through April 13th||Your location|
|Oral presentations to panel of judges (bring a fully charged laptop, connectors, and flash drive with your presentation)||April 14th, 3:00-5:00pm||Virtual (details to come)|
|Award assigned for all research team members and faculty sponsors.||April 21st||Email and mailed certificates|
Awards & Judging
Awards and honorable mentions are given for the oral presentations and are presented at the awards banquet. Two judges will evaluate the quality of your research and presentation. One judge will be from outside your field.
Additional Symposium Documents
The Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) was pleased to partner with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), for an Information Session on the Undergraduate Research Program on September 8, 2021. This session intended to inform and engage students toward deeper questioning leading to a better understanding of URP research opportunities. Please click the link below to view the slides.