Undergraduate Research Program (Academic Year)

The Undergraduate Research Program (URP) helps students identify a research project during the academic year. 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.

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Apply

We encourage all undergraduates from all schools to apply for the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). 

Application Process:

  1. Identify an advisor and a project.
  2. Complete the PDF application (includes student-written description of the planned research). See URP Application Form below.
  3. Print out the completed form and sign.
  4. Get signatures from your research supervisor and sponsoring Department URP Coordinator (see below).
  5. Submit to Office of Undergraduate Education.
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Previous Projects

Review examples of previous Undergraduate Research projects.

Examples of Previous Projects

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Identifying a Research Advisor and Project

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.

Start with Faculty

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.

Research Conducted on Campus

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.

I Have My Own Idea for a Project

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.

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Apply for Credit or Funding

Students can request course credit OR funding for their research project.

Course Credit

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.  You will not recieve 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.

Funding

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
  • Completes your student authorization payroll form to include department funds
  • Forwards the URP application and student authorization payroll form to the Office of Undergraduate Education for approval
  • Will set up a schedule for reporting your accrued hours which should be reported within the same payroll period that you have worked

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 may 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.  All applications with this designation are sent to the appropriate department for approval.  You will not receive formal approval notification from the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Deadline for Funding

Third Friday of the Fall and Spring semesters.

Getting Paid

You and your sponsor determine the total amount you will earn and rate of pay.  The minimum hourly rate for the URP is $10.40, 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.

    File Collection

    Department Coordinators

    Students must submit their application to the coordinator for the department in which your project takes place. Department Coordinators are responsible for the administrative details between the faculty researcher and the institute for the URP.

    File Collection

    Eighth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

    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

    Undergraduate Research Symposium Registration Form

    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 poster or oral presentation (see Making an Oral Presentation or Preparing a Poster below).
    • Present poster or oral presentation at the Research Forum (see Process and Important Dates below).
    • Attend Awards Luncheon for all research team members and faculty sponsors.

    Eligibility

    • 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. 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, or participate in the poster session.
    • 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 and schedule by April 12th.

    Day of Event

    • See Process & Important Dates below for detailed schedule and timings.
    • Four individual teams will share an 8 foot table to display their posters.
    • Your posters must be free-standing for proper tabletop display.
    • During the poster session attendees will be able to walk around, and browse for projects they find interesting. They will be given a list of posters in the session, and a brief abstract of each project.
    • Some of the attendees will also be judges. They will base their award decisions on these discussions and their impressions about the quality of your research work and poster presentation
    • Dress Code – Most students wear suits. The competition can be close. Distracting or inappropriate attire sends a message you probably do not intend, but the message transmits nonetheless. Dress smartly.

    Process and Important Dates

    what when where
    Submit registration form and abstract, including name of faculty sponsor. Through April 7th Via the online registration form
    Notification of type of presentation assigned and schedule April 12th Via email to team leader
    Prepare poster or oral presentation in accordance with guidelines (see below) Through April 25th Your location
    Complete poster and obtain poster board at bookstore or . No later than April 23rd Your location
    Poster presentation to judges and campus community April 26th, 3:00 - 5:00 PM CBIS - 1st and 2nd Levels (Atrium)
    Oral presentation slides set-up April 26th, 3:00 PM Assigned rooms in Russell Sage Lab, CBIS
    Oral presentations to judges and campus community April 26th, 3:00 - 5:00 PM Assigned rooms in Russell Sage Lab, CBIS
    Awards and Banquet for all research team members and faculty sponsors. May 3rd, 12:00 - 1:30 PM Heffner Alumni House (lower level)

    Awards & Judging

    Awards and honorable mentions are given for the poster and oral presentations and are presented at a banquet for all participants. Two judges will evaluate the quality of your research and presentation. One judge will be from outside your field.

    Additional Symposium Documents