Why do research?

There are many benefits to becoming a researcher, including:

  • Academic Achievement - Undergraduate researchers have numerous opportunities to expand their portfolio or academic resume. 
  • Career Goals - Undergraduate research can help you clarify your choice of degree program, career interests, and post-graduation plans.
  • Graduate and Professional School - Conducting undergraduate research is a way to develop strong relationships with faculty members who can serve as references for you.
  • Community - Undergraduate research provides opportunities to build a learning community with faculty and fellow students.
  • Transferable Skills - Undergraduate research strengthens written and oral communication, critical thinking, technical skills, and information literacy.
  • Confidence - Undergraduate research builds confidence in your abilities and improves your overall perception of mechanical engineering

Is research right for you?

  • Research can be hard. Undergraduates are often involved in completely new research directions which can be exciting but also challenging. Motivation, creativity, and hard work are most important here.
  • Talk to people. You will learn the most when interacting with other students.
  • Expect to document your work. The highest goal in research is to have others use what you have done. They can't do this if you don't write (or type) it down.

Tips for finding research

  • Do YOUR research before approaching a faculty member you're interested in working with (in MechE or outside of MechE). Are the projects described on the faculty members webpage of interest to you? Which ones? Why?
  • Explore research applications and research fundamentals to learn about what areas faculty are working in. What do you want to learn more about?
  • Get excited about doing research. Show you care. How is doing research relevant to you and your goals? Read published articles and understand areas the faculty are working in.
  • Be selective with your research project. Make sure that you have a clear goal and it is something that you will enjoy. When you start getting bogged down with midterms, you will need this enjoyment to pull you in.
  • Understand the faculty expectations for students working in their lab. What is the time commitment? Setup a project schedule. Have a good idea of how much time you will be able to spend on this project. This is not just the white space in your schedule. Your classes will take time too.

Next steps

  • Once you do YOUR research and understand the expectations, contact the faculty member you’re interested in working with. If they don't respond in a reasonable amount of time, send another email. Be persistent.
  • Do NOT ask them to tell you about their research projects. That is something you learn about during YOUR research and should be done prior to reaching out to them. Make it so they don’t have to do much work.
  • Learn who their graduate students are. If you aren’t receiving a response from the faculty member after a reasonable amount of time, it’s okay to reach out to the graduate students. Shows interest and could increase the likelihood of getting on the team. 

Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development Office

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development also provides support through:

  • Advising: Meet with students to discuss how best to move forward on their interests and engage in undergraduate research at Carnegie Mellon
  • Workshops: Offer writing workshops each semester to assist students in the proposal writing process
  • Individual Meetings: Meet with students individually to review their proposals and make suggestions

SURA - Summer Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship - is an opportunity to explore research in the summer:

  • The Summer Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (SURA) course awards tuition-free elective credit to undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for existing faculty projects focused on undergraduate research or creative inquiry under the direction of a Carnegie Mellon faculty member. 

Their office offers Summer Research Fellowships:

As well as research grants: