Published: Nov. 30, 2022 By

A poster presentation.
Above: Four REU students at a poster presentation.
Header Image: Participants in the 2022 Materials Science and Engineering REU program.

Undergraduate students picked up hands-on experience in materials science through a unique research program.

The 2022 Research Experience for Undergraduates pilot offered college students from across the country a chance to come to the University of Colorado Boulder and spend ten weeks over the summer working in the labs of leading materials science and engineering faculty.

“The theme of the program was engineering materials for a healthy world,” said Stephanie Bryant, director of the materials science and engineering program. “Students were looking at health, alternative energy, and infrastructure; things that can really improve life on this planet.”

For participant Jaylen Lewis, an undergraduate engineering student from Texas’s Prairie View A&M University, it was his first chance at research experience.

“I’d never done research before or even had an internship, so it was opportunity after opportunity,” Lewis said. “I liked working in the fabrication center and working on PCB design the most.”

The goal of the REU was to provide immersive experience where students could study a topic in depth, working with a supportive community to help cement their career trajectory. Bryant said programs like this are particularly beneficial to students from smaller or less research intensive universities.

“Some institutions have very limited research for undergrads. Research experiences like this one at CU Boulder gave students a chance to work on cutting-edge materials technologies that are addressing some of our world’s biggest problems,” Bryant said.

Additionally, attendees had opportunities to take part in seminars on science justice issues and public policy, which Bryant said are critical to making an impact in our world.

Numerous MSE graduate students also served as mentors to program participants.

Undergraduate students taking part in the REU received a stipend and travel assistance, and were provided an on-campus apartment during their stay in Colorado.

Bryant is hopeful the REU initiative helped to get the word out about CU Boulder’s materials science and engineering program, which is as graduate program and research hub for dozens of interdisciplinary faculty members conducting cutting-edge investigations and education in the materials realm.

The MSE program aims to continue the initiative in summer 2023, with an application announcement window expected in early spring.