Research: Undergraduate Research

The opportunity to engage in undergraduate research is an important reason to join the Baskin School and UCSC. Our campus has UC's highest rate of undergraduate participation in independent studies, the individualized courses that can form the core of a research project. Projects at a research university like UCSC ensure that students are not just exploring the known, but also the future. Research opportunities in classes, faculty laboratories, and on one's own are a way to customize an education and build distinctive experiences that can propel students to graduate school or the start of an innovative career.

The Department of Computer Engineering has many opportunities for undergraduate research during the academic year and during the summer, in classes and in faculty laboratories.

The Department sponsors the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology (SURF-IT), an intensive 9-week summer program in the Baskin School. The SURF-IT web site includes descriptions of many undergraduate research projects, and is a good place to start looking for potential faculty mentors, as are the department's research page and the Baskin School's research page. Many senior design projects and other class projects are also research projects.

If you are a UCSC student wanting to get involved in a research project, the first thing to do is figure out which projects are most interesting. Talk to your professors, other students about their professors, and browse our web site to learn about projects. Check the class schedule to see if a professor you'd particularly like to work with is teaching a class you can take. Contact the professor or lab to see what courses might be needed to prepare for research, and if they have projects you may be able to work on, but be sure that you have done your homework first in gaining as much information about the lab as possible. Be sure to start preparation early; the summer of your junior year is a great time work work on a research project, but you'll want to take courses and start getting to know the lab during the prior academic year.

Not all labs will have room or have projects that fit your background, so do not be discouraged if a research possibility does not work out; instead, look for a new one.

Also, be sure to apply to formal programs like SURF-IT, UC LEADS, and National Science Foundation programs at other universities, and watch for annoucement of research opportunities in the undergraduate newsletter. Applications are often due in January and February, but some programs have earlier deadlines. In addition to opportunities listed in the newsletter, the Career Center maintains a database of internships for UCSC students.

SURF-IT student Samantha Downey