This past Thursday, ACM members gathered in COMM 102 to hear from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR)’s Student Undergraduate Research Council (SURC) about opportunities to get involved on campus with research. But before OUR presented, Jeff Lopert (President) discussed some old and new announcements from ACM:
- Membership dues are $5 per semester now!
- T-shirts are selling like hot cakes! $10 Only!
- SWE Formal
- Online Peer Mentoring Program
- Florida Science Olympiad
- More details in the presentation slides linked below!
“Getting Started In Undergraduate Research”
Expanding Your Academic Experience Through Undergraduate Research
While discussing the tools that students may use to obtain research opportunities on campus, representatives from the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR)’s Student Undergraduate Research Council (SURC) covered a series of questions about the programs they offer: “Who?” “Why?” and “What?”
Almost anyone and everyone can participate in undergraduate research. It does not matter what your major is or what your passions are, they have research opportunities available or at least the resources to help you find a campus that can assist you.
Aside from the general answer of “producing your own original, unique conclusions,” research can produce you with new skills and confidence that are hard to come by from the everyday classroom experience. They allow you to test out your career choice and see if you are truly passionate about your field or if you should maybe reconsider while it is not too late. Some more benefits include the potential for fantastic letters of recommendation, a unique experience to describe in an interview that will really help you stand out, and to help expand your resume and catch a potential employers eye quickly.
If you are not positive about how much commitment you would like to set aside from research, consider the variety of programs that OUR suggests: one could volunteer time if joining mid-semester for a gentle start into a lab of your interests (although not a viable option in all labs), programs are also available for credit depending on your major and interests, and some may be even paid (but these can be hard to come by).
To get started, there’s a great opportunity to get your feet wet and a feel for doing research: the Summer Research Academy. This program allows sophomores and juniors to explore in only a few short days a variety of faculty from their department and discuss how to get involved in research at a more personal level. Apply soon!
There are also longer versions of OUR’s “Getting Started” workshops that one can sign up for to get a more detailed look at what opportunities are available for undergraduates. You can even stop by Student Undergraduate Research Council (SURC) to ask questions. Included in that are Peer Mentor Office Hours in CC2 209 in which a peer can sit down with a student and help locate faculty and programs that meet their needs.
The first section of opportunities they covered were the general UCF Programs. There’s the Research and Mentoring Program (RAMP) that is a two year, Fall & Spring semester commitment for Juniors. There is also the McNair Scholars program for Ph.D-seeking Juniors that is also two years, but takes place over the Summer. The Honors College also offers (to not just Honors College students) Honors in the Major in which a student writes a thesis and graduates with “Honors in the Major” distinction. There are also Student-Mentor Academic Research Teams available to all students.
Specifically, OUR has their own opportunities for students. In April is the Showcase of Undergraduate Research that students can apply to or visit and network with potential faculty mentors for the following year. An interested student could also subscribe to the Undergraduate Research Journal to see what other students are doing throughout UCF. There are also grants and travel awards available to students who qualify.
Some advice from OUR and SURC is to be persistent, creative, proactive, and open-minded. Not all opportunities will come to you nor will they be necessarily your first-choice; it’s all about finding your niche.
To contact OUR you can follow the link below or visit their office in Computer Center, 209. Appointments and office hours are available.